An Average Bus Stop In Singapore
As the sun made way for the full moon and the stars gazed upon the earth glistening, I was standing by the bus stop outside my neighborhood waiting impatiently for transport to take me out to the basketball courts down the road. Immobilized by irritation, I stood foot rooted to the ground pondering about my History project I have due next week. Carrying my Nike gym sack and holding onto my Molten basketball, I’m listening to music on my iPhone, only half my mind on the project, the other on the lyrics to the song I’m listening to, Born Sinner, by J. Cole. What was it my History teacher had said? “The conclusion to your essay not only has to restate your thesis as well as summarize your argument, but it should also discuss synthesis and talk about change over time Cowboys and Cowgirls!” Models of conclusions that my History teacher handed out showed students writing about how a certain aspect of their essay impacted the results dramatically and affected the future in an interesting way, changing the course of History over time. Dribbling my basketball leisurely in both my hands, I wondered: “What if I can relate to this.” I don’t always contemplate back on my life and note how grateful I am for the opportunities given to me, because I’m a horrible selfish individual, but what my History teacher stated to the class impacted me in a fascinating way. All my life, I’ve taken for granted why my family is successful. I’ve taken for granted that if I want or need something, there is money to buy it. I’ve been content with knowing that I’m lucky enough that my parents can send me to the Singapore American School, and I never bothered to look back and think about where these opportunities came from. I’ve been content living in my idealistic bubble, where my family is reasonably wealthy and successful ‘just because it’s how life works’. Who would ever know that I owe my family’s success and my life to my Great Grandfather’s decision to move to Singapore from Ireland? Who knew that my Grandfather’s independent childhood had so much to do with his decisions that led to my family’s success? Who knew there was even a story behind the success of my family? Well, if you feel like it, come with me. I will tell you a story. I’ll show you something. I will tell you about a successful outlier in my family that I am so grateful to call my Grandfather, Gideon Woodworth.
This is a somewhat complex family tree of my extended family both on my father's side and mother's side with their parents and siblings. As you can see, my extended family comes from vast parts of the world, such as Australia, Hong Kong, California, New Jersey, China, Ireland, and Singapore. All of them live in Singapore except the Lam family who live in Hong Kong. We are all very close and like having holidays and activities with the WHOLE family.
I found out during the interview with my Grandfather, many new things about him and what I never knew before. I found it interesting that my great grandfather brought his kids to Malaysia first, because it was more colonized than Singapore to grow up there. My grandfather then went to Singapore looking for a job because he found out that Singapore was a better place to start a new life. Like said, he lead his life into a typical lifestyle in Singapore by getting good salary to support his family and then live a comfortable life.
What I didn't know is that my grandfather grew up in a very different lifestyle than I did. He lived a much harder life in Malaysia than I did in Singapore. My Grandfather had a harder time growing up without his mother and his father who lived far away from him. His siblings were in boarding schools in other countries. This made it hard for my grandfather to grow up as a kid, since he was very lonely and had no one to play with. But at school, he had friends that played soccer with him and had a very simple life at school; do well with his studies and exams. I never knew my grandfather grew up with his aunt and uncle, this was very different from me growing up with my own parents. He played with sticks and guns shooting animals and riding around in his bicycle and playing with his motor cars. At his age, I also didn't know that he went to Japanese camps to get viewed upon after the war between Singapore and Japan.
Overall, I thought that this interview was very interesting because I learned a lot about how my grandfather grew up and I now know how easy and privileged my lifestyle is today.
The European immigrants coming to Singapore started in the early 1800s, where Singapore was a famous and huge fishing village in South East Asia. It was one of the main ports in Asia where ships and travelers would pass through. It was also a big trading post for general goods and food. Because of that, many Chinese, Indonesians, Indians, and Europeans came to Singapore. They would meet up there and have business with other people there trying to find jobs and looking to start their trade there.
The European Irish came to Singapore to set up trading posts so they could expand across the world. They set up their posts as early as 1819 and shortly after, started a colony for economic gain in 1824. Later in the years, when steam power replaced sail as a way to propel ships around the world, the British Navy needed coaling stations at strategic points around the world so they could maintain a global presence with their navy. So, where would they go to set it up? Singapore of course! Singapore's location also made it easy for the British to control access in and out of the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea, which would then lead to the Pacific Ocean. Because they controlled the straits and rivers of Singapore, other trade/military ships would potentially have to take a longer route around Malaysia to go to and from major bodies of water. This gave Britain an advantage in warlike situations and because of that, it influenced many Europeans and British men to Singapore for jobs, and to live there. Singapore not only had that, but also they had free immigration policy, with no restrictions. This means that they could come in large number as the British allowed them to come and go as they pleased. It also had a lot of job and bossiness opportunities. But more importantly, it was due to the success of Singapore as a port. Traders were attracted to Singapore due to the free port status, which meant free trade for the immigrants, which is why many immigrants form all over the world (India, China, Europe, and the South East Asia Islands) came to Singapore for work and some of them to start their new life there.
For my Grandfather, he did the same as these other immigrants. He was born and raised in Ireland with his parents and many siblings. His father was desperate for a job and new life that could better support his family and his own life. So, he heard that the new settlement in Singapore offered good economic opportunities by creating new jobs. So, when my grandfather was around his teenage years, they moved to Singapore to find a new and better life. His father was got a new job that better paid and supported his family, as he became a fisherman and got a good salary. When my grandfather grew up, he married my grandmother who was also an immigrant, but from China and Singapore. They started a new life in Singapore which they thought was the best place to start a new life and have jobs that could support their family and themselves. My Grandmother later on gave birth to my father and my aunt and uncle on my dad's side. They all lived a good life in Singapore and were not disappointed.
As for America, my grandfather's parents were from Ireland to and heard that in the States, there were people who practiced religious freedom and many people in Europe spread the word that in America, people had vast property and land there, as well as good pay from jobs. This reached Ireland and back then, many people in Ireland (84.7% of the Population) were Roman Catholics and many people didn't like how they had to follow God's words. So, like my Great Grandparents, moved to America looking for a new life and freedom. Unfortunately, after the long boat ride, they arrived in America and the officials sent them back to Europe as they couldn't become American citizens. So, that's when they had kids back in Ireland and found that Singapore was, like America, had good jobs and freedom there to. So, they went to SIngapore and ended up having a good life there.
Today, there are over 2,085,600 million foreigners and Eurasians in Singapore. I think there are this many foreigners in Singapore because over the past years, there were many job opportunities and good land in Singapore that attracted people form all over the world. Now in Singapore, there are so many religions such as Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, and so much more because there is a lot of religious freedom and the government Lee Quan Yew makes it fair for many foreigners to practice their religion here. All over Singapore, there are also many races that make Singapore the world's most multicultural country in the world. This made it even more popular to come to Singapore and not only that, but employers and business men from all around the world sent many people to come to Singapore to set up their companies there and begin new jobs and work in Singapore. Now, Singapore has over 5.4 million people living in it, and bare in mind that Singapore is a very small city.
From this research of the Irish immigrants, I can see how many races and citizenships from all around the world developed in Singapore and how Singapore is today. Many people have fought for their freedom and rights to come to Singapore, which is today safe and has a good economy. This project has really affected how I think about the many immigrants from around the world coming to singapore, and I can now understand why I'm so proud to be born in the little red dot.
In conclusion, this Multicultural American Project has really changed the way I thought about the history of Europe and Asia, and how I've learnt so much from my relatives and where they came from as well as what they did. Now, I feel like I know more about my country and the history of it, such as how Singapore used to be a big fishing village where many foreigners, including my grandfather, went to to start a new life.