On Thursday, I assisted a fellow trainer friend at his talk on racial harmony in a local JC. The session consisted of a film made by a local director/producer and a discussion afterwards.
One of the statistics that my friend stated got me thinking. Only 20% of Chinese in Singapore have a close friend who is from another racial background. Granted that we make up the largest proportion of the local population, that number is still pretty low.
Racial harmony is, doubtlessly, an important thing to have and we have done a fairly good job of it so far. Racial riots no longer occur, though the same cannot be said of racial tensions.
My pondering over this was also spurred on by the gem and jewellery fair that occurred over the weekend. A number of the vendors are familiar faces, though there are also quite a few new ones.
As I spoke to the different vendors, the cultural differences between us quickly became apparent. Simply the way they related to the locals here was obviously different from the way they related to their own countrypeople. I even had a chance to observe some interactions between vendors from different countries. It was, in a word, interesting.
Perhaps, deep down, we are all still very much more comfortable with people who are similar to us and race is a point of commonality for many. After all, who could argue that race and culture are related and that it is easier to make cultural references with someone who has the same understanding as we do?
That said, I enjoy meeting people from different countries, and hope to have many more opportunities to do so in the coming years.