Relocating from Singapore to a different country can be an exciting experience, but one that can also come with its own challenges! While it may seem daunting to go about it alone, having someone who’s been through the same transitions can be both helpful and reassuring.
For these overseas Singaporeans, the transition of settling down in a new city was made all the more easier, thanks to the help they received from fellow Singaporeans in the community. Here are their stories, and what they have to say about the Singaporeans that went the extra mile to help them – or others – feel at home!
Andrew Toh & Family – Adelaide, Australia
Nominated by Wayne Lim
Andrew and Wayne got to know each other in 2006 through a car club back in Singapore. Despite not being in contact for some time, Andrew, who has been living in Adelaide for close to four years, found out through Facebook that Wayne was moving to Tasmania at the time. That’s when both men got back in touch and established a close friendship that continues till today.
Wayne (left, in blue t-shirt) and Andrew (in green hoodie) with their families and a family friend (Photo courtesy of Andrew Toh)
“Before my move [from Tasmania to Adelaide], Andrew helped me attend rental inspections on my behalf, and video-called me to show me the property and ensure that I was happy with it.
I touched down in Adelaide on a Sunday evening and had to report for work the following day. Andrew offered a room to me and said I could stay over for as long as I needed during this transition. His wife, Connie, cooked dinner and checked on my well being throughout that week. I was very touched by the way they extended their care and support to a fellow countryman… now we are like a family. For us, we are now paying it forward and helping other Singaporeans too.” – Wayne Lim
“I was introduced to a fellow Singaporean named Daisy Gan before my own move to Adelaide, and she helped my family and I settle down well. I believe in paying that help and support forward, to help [others] find their way around and settle down in Australia. As the Chinese saying goes, “在家靠父母，出外靠朋友“ (One may rely on their parents at home, but when away, they need the help of friends.)
I’m flattered to be nominated as I believe it’s a blessing to be able to help. I was initially apprehensive about being featured as I’m sure there are other fellow Singaporeans who have probably done more than I have, and have helped more people than me! But I hope this would be an encouragement to Singaporeans to help those in need, wherever they are.” - Andrew Toh
Carys Chan – Melbourne, Australia
Nominated by Ming Wei Cheah
Carys and Ming Wei were schoolmates at Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra, where Carys pursued her PhD studies. She is now a lecturer at RMIT University in Melbourne.
Carys (centre) with fellow Singaporean students in Canberra
(Photo courtesy of Ming Wei Cheah/Carys Chan)
“Carys went above and beyond her duty and time to help many Singaporean first-year students settle into Canberra/ANU, extending a helping hand, or answering questions in general. She was also a campus tour guide and student ambassador, and would also bring students and families on free campus and city tours around ANU and Canberra.
Though she eventually moved on from this role, she continued to meet up with Singaporean students regularly throughout their time in university. She just enjoys helping fellow Singaporeans in general, and the common topics that Singaporeans talk about when we come together.” – Ming Wei Cheah
“Even a weekly or monthly coffee catch-up with a fellow Singaporean can go a long way. Never underestimate the power of these small gestures.“ – Carys Chan
Marianne Lai – Ontario, Canada
Nominated by Alice Goh
Marianne and Alice both connected online as overseas Singaporeans living in Ontario, and are now both the administrators of online group ‘Singaporeans in Ontario’. Marianne and her husband, David, have been in Canada since 1981, when they first moved to Toronto. They run a family business specialising in local and destination photography and cinematography.
Marianne (third from right) with her family
(Photo courtesy of Alice Goh)
“Marianne proactively makes the effort to reach out to new Singaporeans in Toronto, who are either here for work, school or who have newly immigrated. She’d contact them personally and provide useful information to help them find their way and get settled down, like directing them to respective government agencies or other organisations.
She is also selfless with her time; in between her busy schedules, she’d personally meet up with Singaporean newcomers, to have a meal with them, take them around and introduce them to other Singaporeans. Most recently, she offered to pick up a newly arrived Singaporean gentleman from the airport, take him to his accommodation, and bring him downtown!
For someone coming to a foreign land alone, receiving help from a fellow Singaporean relieves the stress of uncertainties. Marianne’s actions truly speak volumes. Hence, I honestly feel that she should be recognised for her unconditional effort, time and hospitality for fellow Singaporeans, past and present.” – Alice Goh
“Singapore always has a place in my heart, and my family’s. Though we’ve lived in Canada for over 30 years, we still love to engage and befriend other Singaporeans over common interests in makan and culture. It helps the newcomers especially so that they don’t feel alone in this country. I’m sure this is something anyone can do – they’d be more than grateful for any guidance! You could also get more involved and volunteer in your community. There are many organisations that require volunteers and they would be more than grateful to accept your help.“ – Marianne Lai
Stanley Tee – Hong Kong
Nominated by Marietta Toh
Based in Hong Kong since May 2006, Stanley started out working for a Singaporean telecommunications company, before moving on to start his own business. His nominator, Marietta, met him at a National Day event in 2013, and subsequently worked with him in the Singapore Association Hong Kong (SAHK).
Stanley with Singaporean students at a 2015 get-together event in Hong Kong
(Photo courtesy of Marietta Toh)
“Through his work and business contacts, Stanley has helped many new Singaporeans adapt to life in Hong Kong. Aside from helping families, he also organises annual events for Singaporean students new to Hong Kong. He gives them a listening ear, shares his experiences and provides advice on coping strategies, and even offers to be a local emergency contact. He also encourages Singaporeans in Hong Kong to do their part for charity, and has organised various events and initiatives to help underprivileged families and elderly folk.” – Marietta Toh
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Thanks to all our overseas Singaporean friends for sharing their stories, and for doing their part to make their fellow countrymen and women feel at home! These gestures truly embody the SG Cares spirit and help bring Singaporeans closer together, wherever they may be in the world.
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SG Cares is a movement to support Singaporeans’ goodwill. It is about sharing inspiring stories, forging partnerships and growing opportunities for volunteerism. You may be far away from home, but Singaporeans overseas actively contribute to good causes, whether in your current community, or those back in Singapore.
Do you know an overseas Singaporean who deserves a special mention? Let us know here.