“The students had a blast!” said Professor Anju Mary Paul. “Their interactions with the workers both in Little India and today have fundamentally changed their views about migrant workers in Singapore.”

Paul is from Yale-NUS College’s Division of Social Sciences, and was speaking to TWC2 after the college hosted a visit by migrant workers to their temporary campus, 3 October 2013, part of their Migrant Nation project.

The workers enjoyed the half-day programme organized by Yale-NUS students: a tour of the campus, a game of treasure hunt and some relaxing games in the multi-purpose hall. The workers were also taught a simple dance routine to the beat of an Indian song; the practice session was a delight of clapping, singing and dancing.

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This was followed by a sumptuous tea break and a birthday celebration for two workers whose birthdays are within the month.

It was “very enlightening”, said Greta, a volunteer joining Discover Singapore outings for the first time, “to see how the students engaged with the construction workers. They could see first-hand what a great bunch of lads they are, very polite and friendly.

“Discover Singapore outings are helping to bring down the fear, ignorance and prejudice in those involved — on both sides”  she added.

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Not far from the temporary campus, the new Yale-NUS building is still under construction. TWC2’s workers stopped and chatted with their fellow country mates working at the building site. It reminded Prof Paul of an observation she had made:  “I have seen some of the students start to reach out and engage with the construction workers building our campus and when I ask them about it, they tell me that ‘everything is different now’.”

While having dinner in the Dining Hall, there was a secret tension in the air. The workers were eagerly waiting for their cue to perform the dance routine. Aha! A flash mob in front of the rest of the diners! This was a first for the workers, and also the volunteers.

Before the night ended, each migrant worker was presented with a tin of biscuits and a print of a group photo. “Very happy. Make many new friends,” Mamun answered when asked whether he had enjoyed himself. Mamun had suffered an injury at his workplace and is participating in Discover Singapore for the first time.

What a great way to celebrate Discover Singapore’s tenth outing! The migrant workers and TWC2 volunteers had a wonderful time at NUS university town, and will definitely cherish the warmth and friendship extended to them.

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