Gan Clan on mission to woo youth

It's gunning for Gans, and sparing no effort.

From getting on Facebook, to a $500,000 renovation, the Gan Clan is on a mission to get younger people to join.

There may be some 30,000 Gans in Singapore, but the association has just 700 members, 65 per cent of whom are aged 60 and above.

"We hardly get any young Gans joining us and it's a problem," said Ms Gan Ee Bee, 38, curator of a new Gan Heritage Centre at the association's building in Bukit Pasoh Road. "So we hope that the heritage centre will help get them more interested."

Over the past year, she and seven others from the clan worked to piece together a comprehensive account of the Gan lineage.

Their effort, which took them back to Shandong, the hometown of the Gans, will be showcased at the new centre starting on Saturday, as part of the Singapore HeritageFest.

Sombre ancestral photos have made way for artefacts and multimedia displays detailing the history of the Gan surname, the migration of its people and their contributions.

For instance, younger Gans may be surprised to learn that one of their ancestors, Yanzi, is considered Confucius' best disciple, said Ms Gan.

It cost $500,000 to renovate its 47-year-old building and install the exhibits, which include a tile from the roof of Confucius' grandfather's house.

It was partially funded by the National Heritage Board's Heritage Industry Incentive Programme.

The rest came from members. For the first time, members of the public can take a tour of the building. Admission is free.

Dr Gan See Khem, 67, president of the Gan Clan, said clans have a part to play in keeping alive Singapore's rich heritage.

"With more than 2,500 years of history, the Gan Clan has a lot to share with everyone. If all the clans do their part and tell a good story, the heritage scene will be more interesting."

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