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SUSS plays host to National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) through an Enchanting Rhythm of Drumming

In a harmonious convergence of cultures and rhythms, Dr Kelvin Tan, Head, Minor in Applied Ageing Studies programme at SUSS, hosted an exchange between institutions that struck a resounding chord of unity and wellness. In August 2023, Dr Kelvin Tan welcomed Dr Linda Lin, Professor at the Graduate School of Physical Education, Health & Leisure Studies at National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) in Taiwan and her six students for a two-week immersion in Singapore, forging relationships on the echoes of community, health and music. 

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FaithActs (a non-profit community care service) members, SUSS team, NCKU team, donors and friends huddle together

The genesis of this endeavour can be traced back to Dr Kelvin Tan's fellowship in Taiwan, where he encountered the inspiring community drumming programme initiated by Dr Linda Lin in the city of Tainan. Captivated by its impact and potential, he extended an invitation to the NCKU team to bring their rhythmic drumming expertise with exercise balls to Singapore's neighbourhoods. The aim was simple yet profound – to employ the power of drumming to encourage active ageing. Together, with SUSS students, alumni and partners, the popular drum beats reverberated in the heartlands of Queenstown and East Coast as well as the intergenerational programme space at Methodist Girls School (MGS). 

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Mr Tan Kiat How, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information & Ministry of National Development (first row, third from left), Member of Parliament Ms Cheryl Chan (first row, second from the left), Dr Kelvin Tan (first row, fourth from left) and NCKU students

This captivating initiative climaxed during the National Day Parade (NDP) 2023 celebrations at Heartbeat@Bedok, where East Coast Group Representation Constituency (GRC) advisers led by Mr Heng Swee Keat, Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies, joined the students in the drumming together with residents of all ages and ethnic groups. A special performance of the NDP 2023 Song, “Shine Your Light”, and an ever-green Chinese song, “All Mothers are the Same (天下的妈妈都是一样的)” filled the festive air with fun, joy and laughter. As Hans Christian Andersen famously said, "Where words fail, music speaks."

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Mr Heng Swee Keat, Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies (middle), Dr Kelvin Tan (extreme left) and NCKU students

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Ms Jessica Tan, Deputy Speaker of Parliament, drumming to the beats of the National Day Parade (NDP) song

The orchestration of this cross-cultural initiative by the SUSS-Nunchi Marine Age Well Programme ignited the creation of interest groups eager to embrace the social drumming of exercise balls as an integral part of Singaporean identity, infused with local melodies, moves, and exercises. Additionally, SUSS and NCKU are in the midst of discussing new research to investigate the benefits of these exercises which can possibly transcend geographical divides, unveil a new chapter of knowledge and enrich the local communities, enabling them to move towards a healthier ageing chapter.

James Woo, a student in Minor of Applied Ageing Studies programme recounted, “It was amazing watching how the seniors interacted so enthusiastically with the Taiwanese students through drumming.” At its core, this initiative resonates with the ethos of the SUSS-Nunchi Marine Age Well Programme, which seeks to identify international best practices for Singapore's own ageing population. The symphony of such cross-cultural exchanges will bring valuable shared experiences from every country to achieve an age-friendly environment that will benefit the global ageing communities.

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