My Singapore: Shaun Teo of Migrant Voices

I am delighted to welcome Shaun Teo, full-time student at Singapore Management University and President of Migrant Voices, to notabilia to share his Singapore with you!

Migrant Voices is a grassroots arts organization that provides a platform for creative discourse between Singaporeans and their country’s sizable and visible migrant worker community through multicultural, multi-disciplinary art productions.

Full disclosure: I reached out to Shaun soon after our move in the hopes that we might be able to work together given my professional background in the arts, education, and community outreach.

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Migrant Voices started out as part of the M1 Singapore Fringe Festival 2006,” Shaun tells me. “And one of the Festival’s features was the Migrant Voices CD project. Workers from India, Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand composed and recorded their own music and performed it a concert held at the Esplanade Outdoor Theatre.

“Another project, InsideOut, paired professional photographers and migrant workers for six months,” continues Shaun. “The resultant images, showing Singapore through the eyes of migrant workers, were exhibited as part of the festival.”

After the festival ended, Shaun and his fellow organizers realized that there was a great demand, and need, for an arts group that could help develop a sense of community between Singaporeans and migrant workers. Thus, Migrant Voices was formed. Current activities include: Grass Day Out, an outreach initiative; The Migrant Voices Oral History Archive; the Migration Film Festival, and InsideOut.

“Why does Migrant Voices use art as a tool for community building?” I ask. Shaun explains: “Art at its very essence is storytelling. We want to provide a platform for individuals to share their stories and for the audience to listen to them. Of course, we are for the better treatment of migrant workers in Singapore. But we also want to show that migrant workers are like the rest of us. They are not just economic tools. The arts allows the audience to see workers as people with stories and talent to share.”

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So, what does Shaun do when he’s not planning events and fundraising for Migrant Voices?

Must-eats?

My favorite food is tau kwa pau and it can only be found at hawker stands in East Coast. It’s basically tofu with fishballs, duck, and cucumbers, topped with dark soy sauce. I grew up in the [East Coast] area so I really like it.

There’s a great Nepalese restaurant called Everest Kitchen and another one called New Everest Kitchen (different owners though). I usually go to the latter because its more convenient!

Ice cream at The Ice Cream Man. The shop makes its own ice cream.

Café Le Caire. Ask them to bring you to the dining room upstairs.

Must-shops?

Bras Basah Complex has everything. Just apply for a Popular [bookstore] card and an Art Friend card and everything is at a discount! Cat Socrates, a small knick-knack shop on the 3rd floor, is a must-shop, too.

Must-dos?

I like hanging out at Post MuseumEsplanade Park is a nice place to just sit. The Marina Barrage and MacRitchie Reservoir Park are beautiful.

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Need directions? Check out notabilia’s My Singapore guide!

Know a creative person who wants to share his or her must-stop spots with my readers? Please email all suggestions to me with the subject line ‘My Singapore.’

(Additional credits: Photographs used with permission from the artists. More photographs here.)

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