Youth, foreign workers hang out at Coney Island

Janice Tai, Straits Times AsiaOne 14 Nov 16;

Bangladeshi worker Mr Depu, 27, has been in Singapore for five months but had yet to speak to any Singaporean teenager, until yesterday.

"I work most of the time and on rest days, I go out as a group with my Bangladeshi friends to eat or walk around so I don't talk to other people," said Mr Depu, who does maintenance and construction work at Jurong Island.

He works six days a week but chose to spend his only day off yesterday going for a walk with 50 young people at Coney Island.

The walk and a subsequent carnival of food and games were organised by some young people from Outward Bound Singapore for their peers to get to know migrant workers better, appreciate their contributions to Singapore and raise awareness about environmental conservation.

It is supported by a grant from the National Youth Council.

Along the way, Mr Depu, who goes by one name, and 100 other workers talked to the youth and made new friends. One of them is student Eugene Yap, 16.

The teen asked questions, from why Mr Depu wanted to come to Singapore to work to whether he is enjoying his time here as well as how to translate certain English words to Bengali.

Before the walk, foreign workers were an unknown entity to Eugene and his friends.

"They just come here to work and are gone after a few years. So I wanted to find out more about them," said Eugene, who found out about the event through Facebook and signed up for it. He usually spends his Sundays either sleeping in or working part-time as a waiter in a restaurant.

Eugene found out that Mr Depu came here to work to support his family, wife and seven-year-old son back home. They chatted about how the scenery on Coney Island was similar to that of the countryside in Bangladesh. He discovered that Mr Depu "dressed nicely" and spoke good English.

Said Eugene: "I gained new perspectives and hope that I will be able to meet him again in future."

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