Newsletter: 2018 August

August, the honour of Augustus Caesar.

Did you know?

August was originally named Sextilis, the 6th month in the old ten-month Roman Calendar. It only became the 8th month when January and February were added to the calendar. Just like July is named after Julius Caesar, August is named after Augustus, his great-nephew, adopted son and successor.

In the month of August, other than greeting your fellow friends on their National or Independence Day celebrations (Singapore on the 9th; India on the 15th, Malaysia on the 31st), you can also celebrate “Friendship Day” on the 5th. To have some fun, you might also want to get a burger on the 31st! (Yes, every last Thursday of August, people in the UK celebrate it as their “National Burger Day”!)

Now, let’s get August rolling with celebrations, let’s start it with our photo quiz contest:

Where in the world was the above picture taken ?

Result of June’s photo contest:


UAE!

The photo was taken at the Dubai Desert Conservation Resort. Dubai is an ’emirate’ (state) of the country called the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Besides, its famous Burj Khalifa, Burj Al Arab and Palm Jumeirah, one will be easily captivated by the Bedouin’s lifestyle in the serene desert.

Though there was no winner for the July Photo Quiz, we received many interesting answers, for example, Tunisia, and even the USA (yes, there is desert there!). There was very little clue on the picture, but we hope it was fun to get the imagination going…

If you haven’t visited a desert, you might find it quite an experience to ride the dunes, dine under the stars, and listen to the “silence” of an Arabian night.

Click here to discover the Dubai Desert Conservation Resort’s program and see how natures survive in the desert:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1-b5Mc1po4

A Journey A Month…
Your Story. Our Story. The Human Story.

The other day, a friend asked me to accompany her to Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay, to see the Orchid Extravaganza Floral display. I was told the display would feature more than 14,000 orchids from over 120 varieties. Remembering my late father was an Orchid enthusiast during the early 1970s, I decided to tag along to find out more about this plant.

The floral display was quite an eye-opening for me. There were many things that I did not know. For example: do you know that there are approximately 28,000 orchid species known to us today? This number is more than four times the number of mammal species, and twice that of the bird species!

For those who have flown into Singapore’s Changi International Airport, you will easily recall seeing orchids ornaments, and fresh orchids around the fabulous airport. But, do you know besides Singapore, many countries from Central and South America such as, Belize, Columbia, Costa Rica, Honduras, Guatemala, Panama, and Venezuela, have also chosen orchids as their national flowers? To be honest, I didn’t, though I have heard of stories, about many explorers traveling to Central and South America, in search of the rare wild Orchid species…

Sidetracking a little, when I first visited China in the 1990s, I wanted to retrace my Confucius roots; hence I went looking for some good Chinese scrolls and paintings. One of my earliest purchases was a set of four Chinese paintings, known to the Chinese as the four gentlemen of plants. Plume blossoms (梅), orchids (兰), bamboo (竹), and chrysanthemums(菊). To the Confucius Chinese, each plant signifies a certain characteristic of a noble person. The orchid exerts an air of serenity; the bamboo demonstrates an unyielding strength; the chrysanthemum, an untainted morality indifference to materialism; and the plum blossoms the noble pride.

Incidentally, for the Chinese, the plants also represent different seasons of the year. therefore the paintings, as a set is quite popular for those who recognise these meanings.

I was so glad that my friend invited me to the floral show. The visit got me reminiscing about my childhood and the time spent in the garden with my father. It also retraced my journey searching for art pieces along the Liulijang Culture Street, before the influx of tourists in Beijing…

What else have I learned from the Orchids show?

As I walked out from the flower dome, I looked at the clouds of overhanging orchids. I said to myself: if the orchids can flourish with such colourful brightness and hues, and if it can spread beyond geographic boundaries and develop into varieties so great, I am sure the human race, too, can rise to the challenge and achieve that! If only we make an effort to understand one another, to adapt to our new environment, and to respect each other to co-exist harmoniously, there will surely be a bright future for humanity.

Perhaps, I now, can understand why my father took the interest to cultivate the orchids…

Something hidden. Go and find it. Go and look behind the ranges…Something lost behind the rangers. Lost and waiting for you. Go! 

– Rudyard Kipling –

To learn about other Cultural snippets festivals around the world, you can also subscribe to TCG’s Youth’s Cross Cultural Competency course:

https://www.transculturalgroup.com/youth-young-adults-pricing/

Wishing you a wonderful August!

 

There is more that we share in this world than those that divide us!