Departed Perth International Airport Sunday 16 April 2017.
Day 1 by Mya: Whilst flying over the Indian Ocean, I began to realise where I really was, and what all of these months of preparation and hard work everyone has achieved together, has led up to. It is a privilege to represent our state of Western Australia, my community and school overseas in Singapore. I excitedly counted down the hours, and eventually the minutes until we landed on foreign soil. I pictured a vibrant, urban jungle as we slowly descended to the ground, the twinkling lights of the city already glowing around the aircraft.
Day 2 by Janka: It is this acceptance of the different ethnic groups that make up Singapore that greatly contributes to the cultural diversity and social success of the nation. Although the different cultural districts originated as a system for separating the ethnic groups within Singapore under Sir Stamford Raffles, the districts are geographically so close together, and blend into one another, symbolising the harmony within Singapore.
Day 3 by Mitchell: Given the politics and historical context of Singapore, we come to understand how such a diverse nation is both united and accepting of one another. Singapore pays great respect to its cultures and its past, using policy and governance as uniting features.
Day 1 by Patrick: Something that amazed me was the size of this humid, green, densely populated nation. I knew that it was very small, but I was extremely surprised to find out that east to west it only stretches 47km, and north to south is only 27km as the crow flies. To put that into perspective, it is 42km from my home to Boyup Brook, the nearest town. The fact that an entire nation's width can fall within just a few extra kilometres of that distance is something that I personally struggle to comprehend.
Day 1 by Brandon: As the group were driven through the city, we stared, in wonder, at the buildings and the many different ways that the Singaporean government had incorporated an immense amount of plant diversity into the city-scape. In amazement, we watched as each building became more entwined with nature than the last. Even on such a small island, they manage to reserve so much space for greenery. The sheer scale of the forestry within the city itself was astonishing. Trees pieced the landscape just as much as the buildings did.
Day 2 by Coby: Today marked the group's first eye-opening introduction into Singapore and offered us a chance to truly immerse ourselves in the Singaporean culture and history. Described as a city where “East meets West,” Singapore boasts a highly cultural diverse population and it was interesting to see this illustrated by the different religions and architectural styles present throughout the city's distinctive ethnic areas.
Day 5 by Patrick: In the Battle Box, the tour very hastily made it clear to me that the Allied forces in Singapore were not prepared for the Japanese attack. I also realised that the superiors were well aware of this. General Arthur Percival, the man in charge the of the Allies in Singapore, had made a request for the British War Office to send approximately 600 aircraft, 300 tanks and a Naval Fleet to strengthen Singapore and ensure the safety of the Crown Colony. The return for the request came in the form of 181 outdated aircraft, from late in the First World War, a fleet of two warships and several smaller cruisers with no tanks sent at all.
Day 5 by Janka: What was most interesting for me was the huge pressure Percival faced when deciding whether to surrender to the Japanese. The stigma and blame that was attached to his decision later turned him into the scapegoat for the failure of the Malayan campaign, as he bore the responsibility for the decision. However, I believe that in considering the lives of civilians and the welfare of his men, surrender, albeit difficult, was the right decision considering the circumstance, and that Percival was in that way very brave to risk the staunch pride of the British Empire for the sake of humanity on the island.
Day 5 by Cale: The tour of the Battle Box has tied together the five main parts of the Fall Of Singapore, in my opinion: Firstly, the battle, then the surrender, the incarceration at Changi Gaol, the experiences of the civilians, and the experiences of the POWs along the Burma-Siam Railway and across Asia. Although the tour is only at the halfway mark, I have already learnt more than I could ever hope or wish for, and for that, I am eternally grateful.