Rediscover Home and NS Familiarisation Visit: A first-hand account

What does home and identity mean to overseas Singaporean youth? Each summer, OSU organises programmes to encourage these youth to connect with their roots back home. These include Rediscover Home, a two-day curated programme for 15 to 18-year-olds to explore their unique identity as an overseas Singaporean; and the NS Familiarisation Visit, which gives 15-18 year old overseas Singaporean males a first-hand glimpse into the National Service journey at Pulau Tekong’s Basic Military Training Centre (BMTC).


Siblings Keri and Jamey Laoroekutai, who grew up in Bangkok, Thailand, joined 2018’s edition of the programmes, and reflect on their experiences and most memorable moments. 18-year-old Singapore-born Keri is currently a Bachelor of Commerce student at the University of British Columbia's Sauder School of Business in Vancouver, Canada; her 16-year-old brother, Jamey, is a year 12 high school student in Bangkok. Both siblings visit Singapore during their school vacations, twice or thrice a year.


How did you find out about Rediscover Home and the NS Familiarisation Visit? What made you decide to sign up for the programme(s)?


Keri (hand raised) at Rediscover Home

I found out about Rediscover Home from our mother. At that time, I had graduated from high school and was about to start university, so I thought, why not? I have a deep interest in the concept of identity, especially that of ‘third culture kids’, so I thought that this would be a wonderful opportunity to learn more about [my Singapore identity].


Jamey: Mum thought that it would be a good experience for me to meet others with similar backgrounds and become friends [through Rediscover Home]. Also, since I will be enlisting in the army soon, she thought the NS Familiarisation Visit would be a good opportunity for me to see what army life is like.



Tell us about your experience(s) at Rediscover Home. Which part of the programme(s) did you enjoy most? On the other hand, what would you like to have seen or experienced more of?


Keri: Rediscover Home was an incredibly enjoyable experience for me, as I was able to meet other teens who share a similar Singaporean experience – while a part of each of us is ‘Singaporean’, there were still elements of Singaporean culture that we weren't very familiar with.

I genuinely enjoyed our visit to Grab's office. I had never been to that part of Singapore before, so seeing the architecture and design of the building and office for the first time was truly an eye-opener. I feel that the exposure to this modern work setting made me realize that work can be fun and I can incorporate a work-life balance into my life after university if I choose the right company to work at. The trip to the National Gallery was a lovely experience as well. I remember that there was a lot of walking, but I learned so much about the history of Singapore from that visit.


I also enjoyed the ice-breaker games. They were very interesting and incorporated a good balance between getting everyone to speak to each other in a safe, welcoming environment and learning more about Singapore.


Jamey (right) playing an ice-breaker with a fellow participant


Jamey: It was an enjoyable experience for me too. I liked interacting with people of similar backgrounds and getting to know each one of them. One particular ice-breaker I enjoyed was sharing a handshake with another person, because I felt that it helped us feel more comfortable and be more open with each other.


Like my sister, I'd never been to the Grab office before, so I found that new experience fun. It was interesting exploring the Grab office and learning about the roles different people have at the company.  

Keri (6th from right) and Jamey (4th from right) with other Rediscover Home participants on a visit to the Grab office


Jamey, you also joined the NS Familiarisation programme. Tell us more about your experience with that.

Jamey: At first, I was intimidated by the thought of having to serve NS, but now I feel slightly better after joining the programme. NS is truly not as bad as it seems as the food, sanitation and weaponry are of good quality. I especially enjoyed trying out the gun simulator and shooting a target on screen. I feel that it is good that participants can visit the NS compound for themselves, so that they’d see what goes on there for themselves, and feel reassured that it is not so bad after all. 


Was there anything that you’d learnt about Singapore during the programme(s) that interested/surprised you? What was it, and why?


Jamey (wearing white ‘97’ t-shirt) and Keri (first from left, partially hidden) listening to a tour guide at the National Gallery

Jamey: My sister and I both learnt new things about Singapore at the National Gallery, as a kind tour guide took us through its history. I found it interesting learning that the field in front of the museum has a rich history, and will never be built on. 


Keri: Yes! I was surprised to learn that that large field actually has a name – the Padang – and that it has so much historical significance.



What would you say to encourage fellow teens to join the programme(s)?

Keri: The most special thing about joining Rediscover Home is the people you’ll meet. After the programme, we created a WhatsApp group to keep in touch. A couple of days later, we took a trip to an art gallery, had lunch at a hawker centre, went to the Marvel Exhibition at Marina Bay Sands, and went bowling. The friendships that I have made [through Rediscover Home] are ones that I still value to this day.


Jamey: If you are a Singaporean teen living overseas and would like to know more about Singapore, then these are the programmes for you!



Planning a trip back to Singapore with your family this summer? Encourage your kids or teens to join in our upcoming programmes and take part in fun, experiential activities to learn more about home! 

To register your child for any of the programmes, or to find out more information, visit the following links:

Camp@Home (23-26 July 2019)
Rediscover Home (29-30 July 2019)
NS Familiarisation Visit (27 July 2019)


Read the stories of Singaporeans living overseas.