Food, fun and NDP viewing in Brisbane

Food, fun and NDP viewing  in Brisbane
Singaporeans at the annual live screening of the National Day Parade in Brisbane on 9 August 2013.

For every year since 2006, Singaporean students from two universities in Brisbane, Australia, have been gathering to watch the live screening of the National Day Parade (NDP).

The tradition will go on this year, but with a few twists, involving food stalls, games and greetings from Singapore celebrities.

"For many years, we've been doing it inside a lecture hall, watching the live stream," said Mr Alfred Bay, 27, president of the Singapore Students Association at Queensland University of Technology (QUT), which is organising the event with its counterpart at the University of Queensland.

"Last year, we did it carnival-style on the lawn, with musical performances and food stalls. People seemed to enjoy themselves more," added Mr Bay, a second-year civil engineering undergraduate.

Encouraged by the warm response, he and his organising team will be bringing back the carnival on Saturday.

More than 500 Singaporeans studying, working or living in Brisbane are expected to attend the ticketed event partly funded by the Overseas Singapore Unit. Early birds will also receive National Day Funpacks.

This year's event will feature a lucky draw and nostalgic games such as country eraser, where players try to flip giant country "erasers" made from cardboard boxes on top of others to win.

While waiting for the parade to begin, organisers will screen music videos of National Day songs, and video greetings from celebrities such as Singapore Idol Sezairi Sezali, actress Cynthia Koh and rock band Electrico.

Of course, no Singaporean celebration would be complete without food. Students will sell Singapore favourites such as nasi lemak, char siew rice and roti prata, all cooked and flipped by the students themselves.

"We try to give them an experience of home away from home," said Mr Bay.

QUT mass communications student Farand Chen, who attended last year's event, said: "The food stalls are the flavours of home. It's nice when you're in a country that's far from home and don't have many friends here."

The 25-year-old, who will be making and selling pandan cupcakes and nine-layered cakes with his housemates this year, said he enjoys the sense of togetherness at these screenings.

Said Mr Chen: "It was quite moving when everyone automatically stood up during the National Anthem and Pledge last year. It's a familiar feeling."

This article was published on Aug 7 in The Straits Times.

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