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"Connectors" to help bridge culture gap in Singapore

Interest groups will be formed at all 87 constituencies islandwide to help residents better understand cultural sensitivities, and the different practices and beliefs in Singapore.

SINGAPORE: Interest groups will be formed at all 87 constituencies islandwide to help residents better understand cultural sensitivities, and the different practices and beliefs in Singapore.

It is an initiative by the People's Association, and it aims to encourage interaction and strengthen bonds among residents so as to minimise misunderstandings.

The interest groups will be led by "connectors" who are part of the Community Engagement Programme (CEP). The CEP connectors are made up of volunteers who will play the role of ambassadors in promoting cultural awareness, understanding and mutual respect.

Associate Professor Fatimah Lateef, a member of the Panel of Activists for Community Engagement (PACE), said it is about taking a proactive approach in living in a multi-racial and multi-cultural nation.

She added: "When you interact with people from different backgrounds, you need to have a certain level of understanding and also a level of trust.

"Through the CEP Connector programme, I think we are able to do this by creating awareness, educating people so that they understand a bit more of the different cultures and different practices."

The volunteers will form interest groups and organise cultural activities to bring Singaporeans and new immigrants together.

Dr Sean Patrick Rozario, the CEP connector for Moulmein Constituency, said: "Being near Little India, I think it is very important because of the recent spate of events with foreign workers. We cannot just brand them as foreign workers who cause trouble. I don't think that is the right way.

"What we need to do actually is to make them feel that they're a part of Singapore, encourage them to come to our events... and then maybe there will be a change and everyone gets to understand each other better."

Euphemia Chong, the CEP connector for Queenstown Constituency, said: "The new citizens are coming in to our area, Queenstown. Usually, we invite them down to the event together with us, to also understand the roots of where they come from and also to understand their culture."

The volunteers will be trained and equipped with skills to carry out various cultural activities. 

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