Streicker Snapshot: Daniel Qian '19 in Singapore

Oct. 1, 2017

This summer, I got the chance to work and live in Singapore, a small and compact, yet beautiful and modern, city-state.  During my time in the country, I got to interact with an amazing new network of Singaporeans and explore the cultural and social dynamics of one of the most diverse places I’ve ever seen, all while working at a nonprofit and eating lots of food!

One of the most important features of my Singaporean summer was the work I was involved in. I worked as an administrative intern with The Food Bank Singapore, helping to increase the organization’s outreach and coordinate some of their volunteer programs. The job was very fulfilling because I felt like I was deeply involved in the daily operations of the group and was tangibly contributing something to the team. The more time I spent at work, the more I came to understand why a Food Bank is so necessary in Singapore and the importance of bridging the gap between the high rates of food waste and the levels of food insecurity on the island. I got to meet directly with community partners and local beneficiaries, ranging from senior citizen homes to schools, from farms to mass suppliers.

The best part of my work life was that the people I was working with were fun-loving and passionate individuals who taught me all about general life in Singapore. They were supportive and genuinely interested in my take on life in the city and even gave me slang lessons from time to time (so I now know how to use words like shiok). Looking back, my coworkers really helped make my time in Singapore something special. Not only did they give me a substantive work life, they also gave me a foundational understanding of the country where I was working.

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Me and some of my coworkers at lunch


















One of the most memorable moments from the summer was when some of my coworkers decided to take me out one night to dinner. After a healthy, heaping portion of dim sum, my trusted colleagues decided it would be a good idea to have me try durian for the first time. I had heard of durian before, and my impression was not a positive one. Durian, known to some as the king of all fruits, is a pungent and large, fleshy fruit. Some describe its flavor as rich and bold and sweet; others are repelled and repulsed by the smell alone. I was given simple instructions: Use gloves because the smell might stick to your skin, have water because the taste could potentially stay in your mouth for up to 24 hours. But I figured, why not try something new? So of course, I happily agreed.

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Me before trying durian for the first time
























Immediately after putting the piece of durian flesh into my mouth, I realized I was in trouble. The pungent smell of the “delicacy” amplified exponentially and manifested itself as a taste in my mouth and I bolted for the nearest trash can to spit it out. My coworkers simply laughed; one of them even expectantly took a video. I laughed too, realizing that this was all just a part of being in a new place. And so, I happily sat back down at the table and chatted the night away with my new friends from work, as they finished the rest of the durian (only half of them actually like durian and participated in the actual eating of it though, it really is an acquired taste).

My time in Singapore was dominated by moments like these. Definitely not as visceral, but my goal was to try something new every day. Singapore’s diverse mix of people, places, and food definitely made this an easy goal to achieve (especially the food). And it was made even easier by those that I met, whether it was through work, my roommates who showed me around on a weekly basis, other Princetonians that I met while I was there, or my slow-growing but ever-present network of friends and neighbors. They helped me get the most out of my summer and I can’t wait to go back!

While it may seem small and compact, Singapore is a country that needs to be unpacked carefully. There are so many unique neighborhoods and avenues to explore that one summer will never be enough time to truly understand. Thank you, to everyone I met, my roommates (Tsun Ngai, Yong Kang, and Stanley), and The Food Bank (shout outs to Margarita, Jessie, and Jono) for giving me my introduction to Singapore. Most of all, thank you to Mr. Streicker for giving me this opportunity to live in a new place, it’s something I will always look back on!

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Two of my roommates



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Rehearsal for the National Day celebration at Marina Bay




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A local farm that The Food Bank frequently worked with



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A nighttime view of Gardens By the Bay, one of Singapore’s most iconic landmarks

























































Daniel is one of 12 undergraduates who were awarded 2017 Streicker International Fellowships. Streicker Fellows design their own projects or internships in conjunction with a hosting organization. During his fellowship, he worked as an intern with the Food Bank, a nonprofit based in Singapore.

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