Idea Jam: Aliens

Idea Jam: Aliens was a session that encouraged CAPTains to think about communities they feel are foreign to them. Many communities exist in our society, but some may be more hidden than others for various reasons -- our lack of awareness, ignorance, or perhaps even the desire of a particular group to be unseen. During this Idea Jam, we bring these communities to light and attempt to have a No-Holds-Barred discussion about the challenges they face, and how we can help them in overcoming these obstacles.

One discussion group shared the view of the less compassionate as a group of people who seem alien and foreign. As a group, we considered what it was that made us find these individuals foreign, so as to understand the essence of this incompatibility. We considered the stakeholders and people involved and it was interesting and insightful how this space of open brainstorming had allowed us to see the possibilities in stakeholders we would never have considered on our own. For instance, stskeholders included the families of both the victims and the perpetrators. We prototyped and created a public space that made use of space to provide ex-convicts to perform, contribute and interact with members of the public and students. I appreciated how we reached that idea of seeking to empower these ex-convicts to serve and contribute, rather than simply considering how we can serve them. This also seems like a very impactful way for us to leave a deep impression and share a strong message of the value of each individual, regardless of their past. 
Another group worked on issues regarding people with mental disabilities and we looked at the various reasons for gaps between people with mental disability and others in society, such as other Singaporeans, their caregivers, employers, the government and VWOs. We decided to focus on the problem of the stigma and lack of understanding of this group of individuals. This is as many do not look at the assets and strengths this group has but focus on their needs and problems. The erosion of this stigma can also lead to greater community support for the caregivers. We brainstormed and came up with an idea for a roving exhibition to be displayed in the heartlands to reachnout to every neighbourhood. We aim to have people with mental disabilities as facilitators to bridge the gap between them and the residents. These exhibitions will feature their stories, some of the art pieces they have done, and showcase projects offered by VWOs like MINDS. We also plan to have workshops for these people w mental disability to teach the public how to create art pieces.

Here are some reflections that we would like to share:

"I think that Idea Jam - Aliens is a success! I feel that the ice was broken from the part that we asked them to write something that they can offer on their name tag, because everyone in the room has something to offer to each other! My group talked about a community that was almost never mentioned about - the 'alien' community being clubbers. It was really refreshing to see novel ideas and points raised, although there was major time (and brain) constraints in the concreting of a sustainable solution prototype. We discussed about how we felt the community of clubbers in Singapore are very alien to us, because there is a negative stereotype we had: that they willingly want to adopt vices. In addition, in our social circle, we do not have many friends that are clubbers, hence the increased gap. Our solution was to look at clubbers in a different way -- that they are only there to socialize (from the small sample size of clubbers we know, 100% of them are not in clubs just because they wanted to pick up a girl or just because they wanted to deal drugs). Hence, we proposed having doing the same activity but in a different environment. Perhaps in a well-lit area with a different style of music, but where everyone is still dancing, we would be able to convince others that clubbers are more socializing than anything else."

Written by Chloe Khaw, member of SI 

"Choosing migrant workers as a community foreign to us, we targeted the differing social perception of migrant workers between low-waged workers and expats. Inadequate efforts to integrate low-waged migrant workers to the larger Singaporean community along with the distinct segregation of physical and social spaces targeted to the low-waged migrant community, came up as a possible cause for the lack of interaction and poor perceptions that Singaporeans form against the low-waged migrant community. Leveraging on the concept of international students’ orientation programmes, our group designed an orientation programme for migrant workers new to Singapore. Partnering with agencies, each migrant worker who is willing to participate in the programme, will be tagged with a volunteer or a family, to embark on a series of sessions for both parties to be exposed to each other’s culture. Activities such as cook-off, tour around Singapore and hangout spots, serve to provide a platform for the friendships to be forged, as well as for inter-cultural exchange to take place. More importantly, the programme seeks to include low-waged migrant workers as an integral part of the community, welcoming them just like how we would do so with exchange students and expats in our respective communities."

Written by Huifen Ong, member of SI 

"Our group brainstormed the impact of migrant workers coexisting with locals within the context of our society, analyzing pertinent trends and possible misconceptions which Singaporeans tend to grapple with when it comes to migrant workers. We evoked questions about our intrinsic culture and social system being a casual factor of poor public perception towards migrants. Progressing through the session, we decided to tackle the more prominent issues and came up with numerous solutions to reverse the trend of poor public perception. The result was a comprehensive programme promoting interaction between students and migrant workers, adjusted for practicality and actual use. We aimed to bridge the gap between migrants and locals by fostering a common understanding through our activities."

Written by Yijun, freshman in CAPT