This came a little too late but I was reminded of my trip to Cape Town in March 2011 once again. It was all thanks to a school tutor, Ms S Goh’s e-mail invitation that was sent from Singapore to Seychelles (virtually) that made us all itching to go then.
Ever since we stepped foot into Seychelles, we were all hyped up about travelling to the different parts of the world. And there came the chance by Spotlight Singapore which after months of efforts, they were more than happy to announce the arrival of Spotlight Singapore in Cape Town.
Just a few months ago, I did a presentation to the new bunch of freshies at Temasek Polytechnic’s School of Business, to share with them of the student learning opportunities that they have been offering me. At the School of Business, I have had the opportunity to visit educational institutions and diploma specific sites of interest. In addition, I did not hesitate to apply for the Overseas Internship Programme that thankfully gave me the best times of my polytechnic life in Seychelles. It was where I was nurtured into a more independent and global individual. And in the recent years, they have been introducing overseas educational trips for students to embark on to interact with the locals and exactly feature how learning outside of classrooms mean!
I remember I was still sharing with the freshies about Spotlight Singapore being an international exchange programme, and how it has gone a reasonably long way from Hong Kong, Tokyo, Moscow and to Cape Town this year. In 2012, they are even intending to go to… (inserts destinations in) destinations that are so so so exotic and totally making me drool. Though Spotlight Singapore initially started out as a cultural and economic gateway to new and emerging markets overseas, this time round for the one I’ve been involved in, the learning component was included.
Never have I imagined myself stepping foot into Cape Town yet because like I’ve always said, how I’ve not even finished venturing my own region – Asia. But it was really nice, first for OSIP in Seychelles made me even more interested in the African culture. Now Cape Town, that chance was right in front of me then!
As I’m reminded of what we did in Cape Town, there were 3 components namely Arts, Business and Learning. Under the Arts component, there were collaborations between Singapore and South African musicians and book launches by book publishers and writers. For the business delegates, networking sessions were conducted to meet potential business partners. For us students, we had visited institutions of learning and had visited famous landmarks and attractions to learn more about the city.
The number of organisations involved in Spotlight Singapore in Cape Town made me really proud of how successful this event was, how prominent it is and how fortunate I am in being part of it. Key organisations such as Cape Town’s Tourism Board, The Business Times which was the official business media, Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts, Economic Development Board, Singapore Tourism Board and Temasek Polytechnic and NTU as the learning supporters of the programme and many more to list.
It didn’t start of as just ‘We’re going to go to Cape Town’ but we knew we had a task in our hands. One of the tasks given to us before the trip was to research and propose a Business Plan to solve Cape Town’s tourism Winter Seasonality problem. With the theme of this year’s competition being ‘Sustaining Tomorrow’s Future with Creative Business Today’, we had to suggest business solutions to overcome the lack of tourism business in Cape Town during the winter season (June to August) compared to the summer season from November to February. In this regard, we also had to ensure that our plan would involve various parties such as businesses investors and entrepreneurs from Singapore and Cape Town. The proposed plan was later presented to a panel of judges from the University of Cape Town, Cape Town City Council, The Taj Resort Group and WESGRO, which is equivalent to Singapore’s Economic Development Board.
I guess the reasons why we participated in this event was because firstly, we were attracted to Cape Town as a tourism destination. Secondly, we had the opportunity to apply what we have learnt in TP via the challenging competition against teams from other institutions. Thirdly, we felt that it was a good platform to interact with peers and foreigners. In essence, it was a great learning opportunity where we could incorporate competitions, networking and a high level of learning at a single event.
Now that I think about it, if I segmented my learnings clearly, it’d be:
In the area of networking, formal luncheons and cocktail parties were held where we had to practise formal dining etiquette. For most of us, it was the first time we had attended such social functions and it was exciting because they were held at grand venues such as the Civic Center where United Nations would hold their meetings.
We were also exposed to the ‘Art’ of business networking that gave us an idea of how business meetings are held and how negotiations take place at a high level. Through our interaction with our counterparts and the business delegates from both Singapore and South Africa, we had obtained real education that is highly applied in nature. We had also attended talks by various organisations that increased our knowledge about Cape Town’s tourism development strategies.
For the programme, I’m certain we were not only restricted to formal learning but we were also exposed to the arts and culture of Singapore and South Africa. For example, we had watched a music-theatrical performance proudly presented by three Singapore cultural medallion recipients. The performance was composed by Iskandar Ismail based on the poetry of Emeritus Professor Edwin Thumboo and directed by Jeremiah Choy, a well-known arts practitioner. The South African musicians had shared with us on their passion for music that is community based. There was also a book launch where Professor Edwin Thumboo shared some of his writings and poems. This was special because we learnt that Singapore does possess a pool of world class talents. We were inspired by these musicians and writers and their ability to put Singapore on the world cultural scene. Most importantly, we also learnt about the arts, music and literature of South Africa. These were very novel to us, and broadened our minds!
The part that appealed to us the students from the hospitality & tourism course came! We also had our fair share of fun roaming around Cape Town and visiting the well-known landmarks such as Cape Point and Table Mountain. We visited the University of Cape Town to experience life as a university student there. Everyone had fun taking photographs to remember the beautiful moments in Cape Town. During the tours, we also thought about how Cape Town and Singapore could learn from each other in terms of tourism planning and marketing.
On an official basis, an opening ceremony was held at the Civic Center where we were briefed on the objectives of the exchange programme. The closing ceremony was officiated by the Mayor of Cape Town and was held at Pepper Club based on a carnival parade theme.
It was an impactful event that attracted much media coverage. These included press coverage by The Straits Times, The Business Times and Afribiz whom reported positively on the impact of ‘Spotlight Singapore’ in Cape Town.
Dankie! (Thank you in Afrikaans) Dankie for this event happened.