The American Association of Singapore ( AAS) turns 100 this year. We asked Communications Manager MELINDA MURPHY for some insights into the organisation and its celebration plans.
One hundred years ago, in 1917, Singapore wasn’t yet a country. Much of the globe was embroiled in World War I. Mahatma Gandhi led his first act of mass civil disobedience. Albert Einstein published his first paper on the origin of the universe. And the American Association of Singapore was formed! AAS has been more than just a social club for its members these past ten decades, weathering events such as WWII and Singapore’s separation from Malaysia. Through it all, the non-profit organisation has been a home away from home for Americans living in the Lion City. Its mission is to enhance, promote and celebrate American culture among expats from all countries, and the Singaporean community. The association does that through social events, charitable activities and more.
Since its inception, AAS has launched most of the American organisations in Singapore, beginning with the American Women’s Association in 1935, among the first organisations to address the needs of trailing spouses here. Next came the American Club (opened 1948), the Singapore American School (1956), the American Chamber of Commerce (1969) and, as a response to the world’s growing drug problem, the Singapore American Community Action Council (1975). More was to follow, including the Boy Scout Troop 07 (1986) and a dragon boat team, the American Dragons (2005).
The community’s newspaper, the Singapore American, has been in print since 1958, while AAS’S Living in Singapore Reference Guide is now in its 14th edition. The Career Resource Center of Excellence was launched in 1998, to support members in Singapore’s changing professional landscape.
Over the past hundred years, AAS has been playing a role one way or the other in the lives of most Americans living here.
A milestone like this calls for a major celebration, so AAS will be taking its community on a trip down memory lane in the coming months. The centennial year kicked off on 21 January aboard a tall ship, the Royal Albatross, a nod to how most Americans first arrived in Singapore in the early days. In March, the George Washington Centennial Ball will have a 1920s and 30s feel with a Red, White & Ritz theme, celebrating the meeting of two cultures. (Ladies, don those flapper dresses and cheongsams; gents, choose from vested tuxes and Tang suits – then cut a rug to the tunes of Johnny James!)
The Ambassador’s Cup Golf Tournament will be held in the style of 1940s Singapore, with players sipping G&TS and playing a hole or two with wooden clubs. Independence Day will harken back to the 1950s, with apple pie contests and barbershop quartets. Welcome Back will be a kid-friendly Woodstock with a Singapore twist, while Turkey Trot will have you digging out your 80s tracksuit, sweat bands and Walkmans. Finally, at Toys for Tots, children will make their own decorations and try their hand at games from yesteryear.
Perhaps the most exciting part of the centennial celebration is an AAS initiative called “100 Acts of Charity”, a salute to the tradition of American charity work in Singapore. The Association is asking community members, partners and friends to contribute to this effort, which will be tracked on the AAS website and a special Facebook page. AAS wants people to know just how much the community has always given back to Singapore, their second home.