Monday, 19 September 2016

Harmony In Diversity Gallery

Harmony In Diversity Gallery 

Ministry of National Development (MND) Building,  ANnexe B, 7 Maxwell Road, #04-05/06 Singapore 069111

Admission: Free

Opening Hours: 
Mon - Sat: 10am - 5pm
Closed on Sundays and Public Holidays

Suitable for: 
Children above 9 years old and adults. 

This is a new interesting place to bring the kids if you are near Maxwell Road. We took a 3 minutes slow walk over to Ministry of National Development (MND) Building to tour the newly opened Harmony in Diversity Gallery after our breakfast at Maxwell Food Centre. 

My hubby and I decided to bring the kids to the gallery because we felt that it is important to help them understand and teach them how to deal with Singapore's religious diversity. They may not fully understand at this point in time, but we will try our best to help them start understanding and what being a Singaporean means.  This is definitely a place worth going as the take-away will be much more than you can imagine. 

Do you enjoy the peace and security in Singapore?
So do you want the peace to continue?
Why should we help preserve the peace here? 
How can we make a difference? What can we do? 

Singapore - So, Who are we?

Yes, we all know that Singapore is a multiracial and multicultural society, but do you really know how diverse we are? Just take a look at the many religions that exist in Singapore. Singapore is in fact, one of the most religiously diverse countries in the world. 

So how can we continue to coexist and achieve religious harmony here?

The Harmony in Diversity Gallery aims to promote an appreciation of Singapore's rich religious diversity. During our visit, the children had a chance to think about the following questions: 

1) How sensitivity of religious issues can post a potential threat of violence and destruction to Singapore as can be seen from the Maria Hertogh Riot in 1950. 

2) How can we deal with our diversity? 
Will we let our differences divide us or our commonalities unite us?

3) How can we as an individual make a difference to help strengthen Singapore's religious harmony?

Although, we managed to cover the entire place in just an hour, my children have learnt many important lessons: 

  1. Not to take the peace in Singapore for granted.
  2. There are many similarities across the different religions. 
  3. We can all contribute, make a difference and do our part to ensure the peace and stability of Singapore.  

Join me in our journey to take quick look around the gallery.. 

Gallery 1 - Journey of Faith

In this gallery, visitors can watch a short video to learn about religious conflicts around the world. It was really shocking to the children that religious conflicts are happening so often in so many different countries. 

Next, visitors can participate in an interactive quiz. It's really simple, a question pops up and you just have to press one of the buttons (Agree/Disagree/Not Sure). There are no right or wrong answers, just your own opinion.

Gallery 2 - Seeking What is Common

There have been occasions when our social cohesion and harmony have been tested. At the start of the second gallery, we learnt from a video about how and why the Maria Hertogh Riot in 1950 started, and the violence and destruction caused.  This shows that sensitivity of religious issues can post a potential threat of violence and destruction to Singapore.

In the next section of this gallery, we learnt more about the different religions in Singapore. It is only when we learn more about others that we can gain more mutual understanding. 

Although there are many different religions, they actually have a lot in common. We are really not as different as one another. 

It was interesting to find our that many religion actually have common practices such as mediation, abstinence/fasting and pilgrimage to holy places. Do take some time to read through when you are there, it's really quite interesting. 

I love these walls of values..It is really so true that many religions do preach the same messages. They are the messages of love, peace, respect, benevolence, compassionate and humility. 

So, the different religions do share many common values and belief. 

Do you know that many places of worship of the different religions can be situated very close to each other. 

If you brought your children along to this gallery, do pick up a student activity book where the kids can jot down their thoughts and complete the tasks as they move along the exhibits. Natalie learnt that just on Telok Ayer Street alone, you can find a mosque, a chinese temple,  a muslim hertiage centre and a church. 
A page from the student activity book. 

We highlighted to our kids that this happens even at Choa Chu Kang (the area where we live at). Thus, it is not uncommon to find places of worship near each other. This helps us to create awareness in our everyday life. 

Gallery 3 - Many Faith, One People

One way to deal with our diversity is actually to develop a common space where social interaction can take place. Through these social interaction, Singaporeans can then develop mutual understanding, bond together and be more tolerant towards each other.

An example of a common space would be at the food centre where people meet others of different races and religion. We often share our table with one another too. So at this gallery, there is trick eye mural of a local coffee shop for photo taking. 

Another example would be our common living space provided by public housing. As people of many races and different religions lives together, there would be occasions of tension and friction. Hence, in this section of the gallery, visitors can play a scenario-based game and find our how our responses to everyday situations can either contribute towards building bridges that connect or walls that divide. 

Gallery 4 - We, The People of Singapore
In this final gallery, visitors are invited to reflect on how they can contribute to the peace and harmony in Singapore. Visitors can make a pledge to inspire others to contribute to Singapore's religious peace. 

Your pledge will appear on the screen once you submitted it. 

Emmanuel (age 7) wrote that he can make a difference by respecting all others. When I asked him to elaborate on what he meant, he said that "I should not say mean or nasty things to others of different race or religion".

Natalie pledged that she will make a difference by helping others. When asked to elaborate, she replied " I will help others who are in need, despite their race or religion", 

For my youngest daughter, she said that she will "play with everyone at the playground". Although a simple statement, I feel that it is so nice that kids at this young age have no concept of discrimination. They tend to play with other children of other races and religion. As parents, I feel it's our duty to encourage our children to eat, play, work and live with everyone.  

While walking through the gallery, a lot went through my mind. Below is my own reflection: 

" We need to live in peace with one another in order to have a better life. We need harmony for Singapore in order to make progress. If Singapore were to have a conflict, the only people who will suffer, will be you and me. It is only with peace and stability, that we can have economic progress and it is only with all these that we can live happily in a place where we can call our home". 

So if you are free or nearby, do make a trip to the Harmony in Diversity Gallery. 

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