ShareCompartir Developmental Milestones This is a time of changes for how teenagers think, feel, and interact with others, and how their bodies grow. Most girls will be physically mature by now, and most will have completed puberty. Boys might still be maturing physically during this time. Your teen might have concerns about her body size, shape, or weight.
Singapore is my home, and familiar and comforting to me. I think about the bamboo sticky rice khao laam roasting over steadily burning embers, and the older women khun meh whose fingers nimbly fold and unfold banana leaves with pork skin wrapped up within it.
That my thoughts drift towards memories of the image and taste of food perhaps spoke to the fact that this was a camp inspired by the concept of slow food — to eat and support local produce.
Amongst the six university undergraduate participants, I was the only Singaporean, with the others joining from Thailand and Cambodia, organised by two Isaan natives: Some wanted to challenge themselves to step outside of their comfort zones, some had aspirations to start their very own organic farm in the future, some wanted to practise their English, and some wanted to make new friends.
I had been learning about agricultural change in the Southeast Asian countryside in my classes, and wanted to see first hand if the theories I learned in class were true. Another of my motivations, however, was a little less lofty.
I wanted to learn what it is that Thais use to make all their desserts kanom taste so delicious! Therefore, one evening early in the camp, our group were taught to prepare mushroom beds. Tilling the soil to prepare the mushroom beds. Photo by Mekong Nomad. As the dusk crept upon us, mosquitoes began swarming around, and we began working faster and faster.
Dirty, Dangerous, Demeaning, and Dark! Although our mushrooms did not survive the sudden cold gusts of wind that swept through Thailand at that time, learning to grow and gather our own food was particularly memorable to me.
In Si Muang Mai, we could catch our fish from the pond in our backyard; collect lime, kale, morning glory, and garlic from our garden; arrange for our pork and banana leaves from our neighbours who were butchers; and gather wild vegetables from Motivations of school aged adolescent singaporeans to food forest during our evening trek to the stream.
Catching fish at the pond behind the farm. Learning the story of our food As a Singaporean, I grew up in a city where the process of putting food on the table involved just a trip down to the supermarket grocery aisle and then tossing the produce bought into a wok.
In school, we were taught that yams, potatoes and other root vegetables grew deep in the earth, but I was clueless as to how this looked in reality.
This was but one of the many opportunities over the ten days when we learned how to forage for our own food. During our stay in Si Muang Mai, we took long walks across the expansive cassava plantations and rice fields in the area. While this idyllic countryside landscape, bathed in the golden hues of dusk, was deeply captivating, the memory that I particularly relish is being in the company of the village community and my Thai and Cambodian camp colleagues.
Sometimes, we would share light-hearted discussions about the main lessons learned or memorable observations for the day. For example, one evening our discussion traversed into the murky realms of border conflicts, and the territorial contestation of the Preah Vihear or Phra Vihan temple between Thailand and Cambodia.
A Thai friend, Waan, recounted how she had to phone her dad who was caught in the crossfire while fixing military bunkers in the forest, her voice trembling slightly. Another Thai friend, Fon, added that many in her village sold their livestock because they were too expensive to upkeep.
These accounts alarmed me, not only because they were cemented in the realities of people whom I had grown close to over the ten days, but also because of the way it rudely exposed to me my ignorance of issues affecting the lives of people whom we in Singapore call our neighbours.
In an era of media sensationalism, it is one thing to read about such incidents in the press that often represent such terror through detached words like conflict and war. It is totally another thing to hear about these incidents recounted by people whose lives have been drastically shaped by the trajectories of terror and dispossession.
Through my experience at the camp, I discovered that since we live in a region that is increasingly connected and interdependent in ways beyond the economic transactions emphasized by economists, it is our responsibility to educate ourselves about the socio-cultural and political issues in the region.
I learned that only in this way can we take an informed, non-insular position that at the minimum does not perpetuate existing social injustices.
Life style lessons Having spent ten days at the camp, I have learned to step back and take a more critical view of being a city dweller, for example the carbon footprint of my lifestyle.
At the camp, I gained such satisfaction from walking on the ground barefoot, wearing loose clothing, slicing up cucumbers with the sun shining through the tent, and taking post-lunch showers and then lying down on the hay with friends to read, talk or nap.
Such a lifestyle, rooted in simplicity and genuineness, felt restorative for my frazzled urban nerves. Walking across the countryside in the evening to forage for wild plants and herbs. At Si Muang Mai village, there is always a constant coming and going of villagers.
We met people who, having grown cynical of a lifestyle of pleasure and consumerism in the city, sought to return back to one that is self-sustainable and gentler to the Earth. If we wanted to make papaya salad som tamwe could use the papaya from our backyard. If we wanted to make Thai dessert, we could use the leaves of the banana growing nearby.
We had our own chickens for eggs, and could feed these chickens our unfinished rice, or simply make our own compost. In the village, I also witnessed, albeit subtly, the struggle and sacrifices involved in making ends meet.
For example, on our final night, our neighbours brought their 7-month old granddaughter to our leaving party.This study examines parental mediation of children’s digital technology use and factors associated with it.
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Learning the story of our food. As a Singaporean, I grew up in a city where the process of putting food on the table involved just a trip down to the supermarket grocery aisle and then tossing the produce bought into a wok.