Sojourn to Singapore
"Eat the durians...eat it!" Although a jumbled cacophony of encouraging voices seemed to levitate the humid night air, all hesitancy was not dispersed as I carefully probed the pulpy tropical fruit with an expectant tongue. Proudly, (and much to the glee of my Asian companions who enjoyed the various facial contortions), I swallowed the remainder, washed down with three full bottles of water. Before the initial incision into the durian, I was engulfed by the painfully distinctive odor that only three days and half a bottle of Listerine could remedy. With my experiences in Singapore as a United States representative to the Asian-Pacific Youth Science Festival, however, I also was engulfed by the myriad of Asian cultures, whose unique facets of language, tradition, and daily life broadened my spectrum of global understanding.
All delegates from each of the fourteen economies were combined into groups and assigned a topic of concern facing the scientific community-diseases, genetic engineering, globalization, and global warming. Although my fellow group members resided in China, Indonesia, South Korea, Singapore, and Malaysia, we all shared a common passion for science research and the application of science for the betterment of mankind. Whether hiking through primary rainforest at the Singapore Botanic Gardens or visiting the laboratories of Nanyang Technological University, we developed sustaining friendships across lines of nationality or ethnicity. Near the conference's close, my comrades and I from Group 24 braved late hours to ensure the completion of our magnum opus on lifestyle diseases. Our ideas of science coalesced while we learned that each individual can make a powerful contribution and that collaborative learning compounds scientific accomplishments.
On one glorious afternoon of leisure at the Pasir Ris Resort, I purchased a rattan crab trap from a nearby fishing vendor who informed me that no fishing regulations exist in Singapore. At this astounding revelation, I was taken aback in awe; in a nation where chewing gum, jaywalking, and littering were all crimes punishable by compulsory rattan caning, there were no freshwater game restrictions. My excursions also took me to the cultural stronghold of Chinatown, where I haggled with sellers for a calligraphy set and traditional silk painting, which cost...