It started with news that made the family proud. Danny Chue remembers two memorable encounters from the 1970s and 1980s that had inspired him to pursue his interest in cultural and language exchange. His memories tell us how his openness contributed to new experiences and international friendships, during a time of rapid development and global learning in Singapore. The photographs here are contributed by Danny.
1970: My Brother, the Seaman
I remember that day when my father happily told me that my brother Chieu Yue was in the newspaper as he was the top graduate of the 50th batch of Singapore seamen in the training ship TS Singapore. My brother was 17 years of age then, and he graduated in catering after three months at sea on board the training ship. Then he went for a three week scholarship at the Outward Bound School in Pulau Ubin awarded to him.
After that, he started work on board a ship and he had given me gifts which he bought when his ship was in port overseas. I like the nice T-shirt and souvenir from Acapulco (Mexico), and a 1980 Moscow Olympic coin. Today the TS Singapore is no longer at sea as it had “retired” in 1979. But my brother is still sailing and uses the skills which he had acquired in the training ship. In June 2014, we four siblings had dinner together in a restaurant before he left Singapore by air to join his ship.
1983: My Japanese Cultural Exchange
I participated in the Ship for Southeast Asian Youth Programme (SSEAYP) in 1983 when the Nippon Maru arrived in Singapore. I was overage then, but two or three older participants were welcomed. I was interested because I wanted to try out my conversational Japanese with the participants from Japan. I joined Mrs Nah (from Siglap Community Centre) and her group which had participants from Japan, the Philippines, and Malaysia.
I enjoyed speaking Japanese with Hama, a Japanese participant and he enjoyed speaking English. I did not provide a homestay, but I provided transport and drove them around in my car. I remember we went to the Merlion one afternoon, then we spent the rest of the day visiting the shopping malls in Orchard Road and taking photos nearby.
The local participants were invited to visit the ship and a tea reception for a day. On board, I was shown around by the participants, and I remember Hama took me to the swimming pool on the upper deck, and all that was interesting. Then I was brought into a tea room for a green tea preparation demonstration where I was given a hot bowl of unsweetened green tea and a sweet biscuit to go with it. I proceeded to the function hall to enjoy my time and chatted with the participants. It was an enjoyable reception on board Nippon Maru. Domo arigato gozaimashita! (Thank you very much!)
And when the local programme ended and the ship had left Singapore, I received this nice “Thank You” postcard from Hama where he wrote in a mix of English and Japanese:
Dear Mr DANNY
Thank you so much for your kindness.
Domo arigato gozai mashita,
Anata wa totemo shinestsu desu.
I’ve enjoyed very much. Totemo tanoshi kata desu.
You speak Japanese very well. Please hold out to study Japanese. I warmly appreciate your hospitality.
It came with a rare Ship for Southeast Asian Youth Programme (SSEAYP) postmark.