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The enigmatic Mano Karan and a celebration of athletes | Inside Singapore Study Tour

Faculty of Arts students Rebecca Pearson and Helen McNeill give their insights into the Inside Singapore Study Tour:

Mano Karan facilitates The Enabling Disability Program, a workshop designed to challenge students perception of disabled persons. His morning workshop had us learning to navigate the building in wheelchairs and on crutches, looking at the design of our built environment and finally led us blindly into the realisation that our perception is constructed out of what we are told rather than what is actually in front of us. Mano works together with a partner in Australia to advocate inclusion and opportunities for less abled persons in Singapore and the world. His warm smile, sharp wit and cheeky disposition enable him to engage the minds of young people long enough to plant a seed of empathy for less abled persons. Although his current work is focused on altering societal norms in Singapore, Mano’s advocacy for inclusion of less abled persons in education, housing and employment permeates out across the globe.

Following the workshop, guest lecturer Reuben Wong, Associate Professor of Political Science at the National University of Singapore, delivered a contextual lecture about aspects of Singapore’s political climate and the rationale behind policy decisions including democracy, economy, demography, identity and ideology. He discussed implications associated with Singapore’s aging population and a birth rate that is on the decline.  In line with Mano’s workshop he analysed decisions regarding disability and access for the elderly, education, housing and immigration. Associate Professor Wong provided an insightful lecture on Singapore from a local perspective highlighting it as the exceptional city state that it is.

As Singapore’s President Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam opened the 2015 ASEAN Para Games which ‘Celebrates the Extraordinary’, we sat with our remotely controlled LED gloves on and pondered the place of the games in Singapore’s diplomacy with other ASEAN states. His words conveyed the message that Singaporeans should move forward “Hand in hand, our greatest strength” towards a “synergy of hearts”, with the spirit of the games “Embodying the tradition of friendship” with their neighbours. A spectacular display of choreographed dancing, pyrotechnics and lights complimented the flag and athlete procession through the stadium.

In all, it was a magnificent display of sports diplomacy in action and as the glossy brochure reads, through these games “…we celebrate our unity, friendship and love for superb sporting competition”

Image credit: Kayden Lim

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