Pasar Singapura: An Event Organised for Singaporeans, by Singaporeans

Pasar Singapura is a bazaar-style charity event held in New York City that brings a little taste of Singapore to those away from home. Singaporean data scientist Lim Yi Shuen shares more about her journey as the event’s co-lead, and her motivation for running the event.


music by local talents, Singapore-themed merchandise, and the familiar sounds of lahs, lehs, and lors in the air — what more could a Singaporean ask for to feel more at ‘home’? That’s exactly what Pasar Singapura has aimed to do since its first edition in 2017. Aside from bringing a slice of home to Singaporeans in New York, the event also raised more than USD$20,000 (SGD$27,160) over its past two editions, for charities back in Singapore.


So, what was it like for the team to put together an event of such a scale? Yi Shuen, Pasar Singapura’s co-lead, shares more.


Yi Shuen (left) with Overseas Singaporean Liaison USA East Coast, Michelle (right)


People Mountain, People Sea (

at Pasar Singapura 2018


How did you come to be a part of Pasar Singapura and what did you find to be the most rewarding?


I love the feeling of cultivating the Singaporean community overseas. Throughout my four years at New York University, I was pretty involved with the Singapore Students Association, and had a hand at organising campus events. So naturally, when Michelle, the co-founder of Pasar Singapura, asked me to be part of it in 2017, I didn’t think twice.


The most rewarding part of my experience was definitely seeing over 500 Singaporeans and their friends enjoy the event.


Singapore-themed merchandise: because Singaporeans love their shopping!


Away from home together


As the Co-Lead, what is the vision behind Pasar Singapura to you?


I wanted Pasar Singapura to be an event where Singaporeans can be their full Singaporean selves. I have always found that Singaporeans tend to hold back on their ‘Singaporeanisms’ when in a foreign country. It may seem insignificant, but hearing the Singaporean accent halfway across the world, with all its lahs and lors, was unexpectedly meaningful to me. There’s just something special about having two Singaporeans come together, and have them naturally ease into using Singlish.


Though this may sound simple, I think Singaporeans can hold true to their local identity just by spending more time with fellow Singaporeans! I’m lucky to be in New York where there are literally thousands of Singaporeans around, and I didn’t have to try very hard to find a Singaporean community.


Just by merit of being away from home, overseas Singaporeans share a common experience. Events such as Pasar Singapura can help bring us together.


Kiddy corner at the first edition in 2017


Do you remember playing with country-flag erasers?


What were some differences between the first and the second edition?


The processes of planning for the first and second edition were rather different. Having the first edition as a guide, the second Pasar focused on building upon what was well-received in the first edition.


In the first Pasar, we had a kids’ corner, stocked with children’s books and little Peranakan outfits for the children to try on. We noticed that during the event, elderly attendees came to rest in this corner too, to escape from the bustle of the event. So for the second edition, we catered a resting corner for them. We also added a whole games section with old-school pasar malam-style games (true to the event’s name), for parents to show their children the games they used to play.


IPPT simulation station: would you score enough for gold?


Getting a head start for National Service


How did people take to the IPPT simulation this year?


Our IPPT fitness stations were one of the event favourites! We believe that Singaporeans are inherently kiasu, so we designed little stamp cards that participants had to complete, and that they could also use to ‘compete’ with their family or friends!


The stations were not only popular with guys who wanted to relive their army days, but also with a fair share of women and kids. Of the funds raised this year, almost a quarter came from these stations alone!


The heart and soul behind the event: volunteers of Pasar Singapura


Setting up the HDB games station – anyone stays at 216 Bedok North?


What were some challenges you and the team had to overcome?


Because we’re all volunteers, finding the time to meet was probably the hardest. It was tough to work around everyone’s full-time schedules; I can’t recall a single meeting where everyone could make it. Our solution? We created 15 WhatApp groups to plan Pasar Singapura 2018!


The commitment of our volunteers blew me away. In the first edition, we had a group of volunteers that stayed up to prepare for the event, even though they had work or school the next day! For the second edition, we had a family of volunteers — a mum with her two daughters — and it was truly heartening to see how they turned their involvement into a family affair.


The heroes behind Pasar Singapura 2018


What is some advice you would give to a fellow Singaporean keen on putting together such an event for their own overseas community?


Don’t be afraid to take risks and ask for help. Our amazing sponsorship team went around to secure sponsors like Nestle and Yeo’s (kudos to them!). Without their time and effort, Pasar Singapura would not have been made possible. 


The best way to put together such a community event is just to gather a team of like-minded individuals, and jump straight into the ideation process. I remember Michelle coming to a few of us back in early 2017 with the idea of a charity carnival. And within the year, we’d organised the first Pasar Singapura!


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For more information about Pasar Singapura, visit



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