One of my favorite things to do when I travel is to stroll around. I love to explore the neighborhoods, the places where people live their lives, the places that aren’t concerned about tourists. Those tourist places are the performance of a city, the sides that are presentable, what they want the world tonsee, the pillows, the comfort.
Perhaps I’m insane, but I like being uncomfortable. I like not knowing what to do. I like the confusing, the negotiations. I think it’s important to be uncomfortable, to challenge yourself to not understand and know,
I don’t feel like I am really aware of where I am until my feet touch the pavement, until I smell and hear the voices of the people who live there.
Strolling around Singapore is fascinating. Listening to many differeent languages spoken, wandering through hawker centers, sipping avocado juice (my new favorite), smelling incense and people are praying in temples. Because my schedule has been so packed, today was the first day I had a chance to wander. I spent a few hours near Bugis Junction which is really near LaSalle College of the arts. I’m spending the afternoon here.
Wandering in Singapore is amazing, but unlike a wander is Paris or London, your time is limited because it is so FREAKING hot! I made the mistake of taking a wrong turn after a wander yesterday afternoon and found myself On a much longer, sweatier adventure than I had bargained for. But I did have some deeelicious avocado juice, so all was not, well, lost…
In the afternoon I went to the Little Arts Academy to watch a rehearsal of a production of a devised piece called “Home,” created by a group of young people. The production is being directed by a student at LaSalle.
Watching rehearsal, I was really impressed with how happy the kids seemed, thrilled by the opportunity to be there and be part of the “Home” community. The students played games together, laughed a lot, but took the production and their roles in it quite seriously.
During the breaks, I got a chance to talk to the students about their lives, their aspirations, and their work in the arts. More than one of the students expressed their interest in pursuing more education in the arts, but felt like they didn’t have the option; either few programs were available to them or they didn’t know which way to turn.
One of the students had participated in several classes at LAA and wanted to pursue a career in theatre, but went to a polytechnic school. At the end of one year, she had decided to leave the polytechnic and apply to go art school.
Another student told me about how much she loved the home economics class at her secondary school. Her parents are divorced, and her older brother drives her crazy. It frustrates her but she doesn’t know what to do about it because she is supposed to do what he says. She likes spending time at LAA because there she can express herself and not worry about her problems.
The Little Arts Academy is quite an amazing place; it caters to students from low-income families. 90% of the students who attend courses there attend the courses for free, and the other 10% pay for them. Classes are available in visual arts, dance, music, and theatre. They have a recording studio, a kitchen, and a computer lab. Most of the 300+ kids who attend classes come on Saturdays. LAA is open until 8pm for them.
And I wondered, if LAA is the place where these kids can find a home if they, too, are lost.