Friday, September 26, 2008

French, please.

It is interesting to note that people from all over the world have such different cultures and values in which they hold so strongly to. The story I am about to tell happened to me not too long ago, during my 6 month stay in the US.

It was the end of the term and I had about a month to travel around before I headed back home. So a friend and I decided to make a trip up to Canada to see the Niagra falls as well as other major cities like Toronto and Montreal. When we first arrived in Montreal, I chanced upon a quaint little shop that sold souvenirs and other intricately-designed items so without hesitation, I dragged my friend inside to take a look. I came across a small vase which I really liked but there was no price tagged on it. With the vase in my hand, I took it to the lady at the counter and asked:

"Excuse me, how much is this?"

"Vous parlez fran├žais?" the lady replied with a frown on her face. Not understanding what she was saying, I hesitated a little before answering:

"Sorry, could you.." Before I could continue, the lady interrupted me, this time sounding a little more frustrated.

"Vous parlez fran├žais? No English, French only!" She rolled her eyes after saying that.

I stared at her in disbelief and was a little outraged by the way she treated a tourist. Afterall, I was going to buy something from her shop! Shouldn't she be a little bit nicer? What struck me most was that the English she spoke sounded entirely perfect! My friend, upon seeing the commotion came up to us. Thank God he knew French, and he asked the lady for the price on my behalf. Being already turned off by the lady's attitude, I managed a weak smile, put the vase back and walked out of the shop. My friend then told me that the people of Montreal, even though knowing English, only hold French as their common language for communication because they were once a French colony. I was surprised and I blamed myself for not doing my homework.

So I thought the rest of my stay in Montreal would be smooth-sailing until one day later, I witnessed a blatant racial discrimination. My friend and I wanted to take a bus to somewhere in the city. As we were walking to the bus stop, we saw that our bus was just about to leave! Panicking, my friend dashed as fast as he could to try and stop the bus, while I on the other hand tried to catch up with him.

Then, the most unbelievable thing happened: The bus driver, on seeing 2 Chinese people running after the bus, stopped the bus after driving for a distance and opened the front door. But the minute my friend caught up with the bus and stood by the door waiting for me to catch up, the driver stared at my friend, closed the door, and drove off! My friend stood by the roadside, dumbfounded and we both didn't know to laugh or to cry.. We found out later on from friends living in Canada that the only reason why the driver did that, was because we were Chinese.

So there you go. The first time in my life I was being racially discriminated. And it didn't feel good.

Moral of the story: Do not go to Montreal. Ok I'm kidding!
Real Moral of the story: We should always do our homework each time we know we will be facing people of different cultures. Intercultural behaviour if not handled properly, might result in conflicts and arguments or may even create a mindset that will condemn that particular culture. This is especially so when we are travelling abroad and interacting with people of different races. Sometimes, it is hard to pinpoint who is to blame for people behaving the way they do. The best way would just be, to take everything with a pinch of salt and embrace every experience!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Fighting Climate Change

I came across this website when I was watching National Geographic Channel this afternoon and so i decided to put up this poster in light of the recent surge of campaigns to fight climate change. so guys, do your part to clean up the world today!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Portable electronic devices and you

Within the last 8 years, portable electronic devices (PED) including handphones, mp3s, laptops and digital cameras have been on the rise. Due to the technological advancement in recent years, companies have been manufacturing different kinds of a particular electronic device on a large scale so as to cater to the needs of the society.

As can be seen from Science Faculty students in NUS, many of us has or have owned at least 2 of the above listed PEDs. With the constant introduction of new models of these PEDs (eg iPhone, Samsung Omnia, Macbook air etc), people are always looking for an upgrade from their current PED to a newer model. Sony Ericsson, being one of the first few labels that introduced camera phones into the market, has been constantly upgrading their phones from the initial VGA built-in camera to a now 5 megapixel camera phone. Brands like Apple and Creative, IBM and HP have also done the same for the respective PED that they manufacture. With the latest models being sold in the market, who wouldn’t be tempted to be part of the era of cutting edge technology?

This aside, some people do not believe in buying phones that are integrated with camera and music functions. To them, a camera is a camera and a phone with integrated camera just doesn’t seem to serve justice. These people feel that the qualities of the pictures may not turn out as good if taken with a camera phone
and playing music with a handphone uses up the battery within a shorter span of time. By just looking at the science students in NUS, we can observe that the average number of PEDs a person owns is increasing. This being said, more resources are actually being used up to make new PEDs each time. When a person decides to upgrade his/her current working handphone to a newer model, the old phone gets “chucked” aside. The accumulation of old electronic devices creates more junk and wastage and many people do not know how to get rid of this junk the proper way. I myself(shamelessly) own a camera phone, an mp3 player, a digital camera and a laptop and for the most part, I dare say that I have no idea how i'm going to dispose of these PEDs should I decide to get new ones. Get Wall-E maybe?

Research Question:
Do Science Faculty students in NUS know the possible consequences that can result from accumulation and improper disposal of electronic junk?

Purpose Statement:
The main objective would be to find out if NUS students know how to dispose of their electronic junk (should they have any). Another purpose is also to find out if NUS Science Faculty students are aware about the consequences of improper disposal of electronic junk. Last but not least, to research on the various effects of how electronic junk can harm our environment.

Reason for Attitudinal Survery:

We need to know how many NUS students actually have the habit of constantly buying new electronic products and not knowing how to dispose of their old ones properly. By doing this, we can then propose appropriate solutions to this matter. We, of course, are not telling students to stop buying PEDs but ultimately, we want them to be aware of the consequences and how they can act responsibly when dealing with issues regarding this.