Diverse-City – Around the World in 15 Days

“Diverse-City 2020” was launched by Singapore Management University’s (SMU) Diversity, Inclusion & Integration (DII) unit and SMU International Connections on 9 September. An annual festival that celebrates different cultures and identities, this year’s event which lasted till 23 September was held virtually, with the aim of fostering an appreciation of contrasting backgrounds, heritage, traditions towards an inclusive student community.

In the festival’s opening message, SMU President Professor Lily Kong said “At SMU we value, encourage and embrace diversity. Our community of students, faculty and staff hail from around the world and contributes to the multi-cultural character of the university, deepened through cross-cultural engagement and sharing. For our students, a key graduate learning outcome we strive to achieve is global citizenship, characterised by understanding across cultures, an ability to navigate  different historical, social, economic, political and cultural environments, and an appreciation of difference.”  

SMU Provost, Professor Timothy Clark said “With close to 160 partner universities across the world, SMU hosts hundreds of full-time, and international exchange students each year.  A key part of an SMU education is nurturing a global mind-set and developing intercultural understandings through local experiences. We also care about making sure that both local and international students feel at home, while pursuing their education at SMU. The Diverse-City festival was borne out of the desire to achieve these aims.”

Themed “Internationalisation-at-home”, Diverse-City 2020  featured 14 online workshops on arts and crafts, cooking, dance,languages and virtual tours, one of which was led by SMU Alumni in Myanmar. Participants also had the opportunity to attend webinar-style cultural talks on arts, film and literature, organized by SMU Libraries, and engage in an insightful dialogue session with former international exchange students, arranged by our International Office. As part of the festival’s online resources, SMU Libraries curated a series of international films, e-books and articles from 24 countries.

Through the workshops, participants learnt conversational Tagalog and Thai, mastered the art of cooking Vietnamese Bun Cha, Penang Char Kway Teow and picked up skills like Chinese lantern making, Peranakan tile making, Japanese nagomi art, Henna and Batik painting. Adrenalin pumping classes like the Middle East belly dance and Kpop dance also got participants off their seats!



Additionally, SMU’s International Office, Wee Kim Wee Centre and Prinsep Street Residences, invited four country ambassadors as panellists in a two-part series “Conversations with Ambassadors: Digital Transformation for Sustainability”. In Part One, Ambassadors of South Korea and Norway shared global challenges and opportunities in these areas, while the Ambassadors of the EU and Canada provided insights on their countries’ initiatives in Part Two.

The exciting festival also included quizzes and contests, where students got the opportunity to win GrabFood vouchers, CapitaLand vouchers and Starbucks gift cards. All they had to do was to complete 3 country activities to obtain stamps in their “digital passport” daily, or create an Instagram post encompassing the theme of “Internationalisation”.

Through the myriad of activities, students learnt fun and unique aspects of various countries, which helped them better appreciate different cultures. With increased global awareness, students are more ready to face the  interconnectedness of world communities, celebrate the diversity of cultures and look forward to eventual travels.