SINGAPORE — Nanyang Girls’ High School was abuzz this week over the terrorist attack in America.
Huddled in groups, students were actively holding small discussions reenacting the collapse, empathizing with Americans and heaving a deep sigh of relief.
A live BBC radio broadcast was given airplay round the campus. English teachers updated us on breaking news, held a question and answer session and sought our viewpoints.
Wen Ling Foo, a 14-year-old student, said, “I think that the terrorists are really inhumane to sacrifice so many innocent human lives just to reach their goal of revenge towards USA. I hope that everybody around the world will play a part to prevent terrorism. I also hope that the Americans will recover from this shock soon.”
Student Qi Hui Sam, 15, added, “I was shocked at first, then disgusted. Who would think of such an idea (bombing the World Trade Center)?”
Outraged, student Xinying Tan, 15, said, “I think this attack didn’t weaken America. Instead, it helped to strengthen America’s citizens.”
The attackers, said Xinying, are “stupid because we all know that America will definitely retaliate. Though it’s the economic downturn now, America still has quite a lot of resources. All the family members… the worry, the distress.”
Not since Pearl Harbor had America been hit with such devastating ferocity, an attack that that saw kamikaze terrorists wiping out one of the world’s most prominent landmarks, the World Trade Center, and striking at the heart of the US military by slamming a hijacked plane into the Pentagon.
Though most students were somber, some also joked.
Ying Jie Leow, 13, griped, “I couldn’t listen to radio dedications after [the attack] happened!”
Over at the Singapore American School, a somber and heavy mood was evident. One fifth of students were noticeably absent.
Security was beefed up as police and security officers monitored the situation in and around the school.
This was Little America after all.
Live CNN coverage of the American attack was broadcast to all classrooms. The media was also out in full force, zooming in on distraught students and parents.
Americans in Singapore had greeted the evening of September 11 (Singapore/Hong Kong time is 12 hours after EST time) with devastating news of the attack.
American student Amber Frendt, 17, an 11th grader at the Singapore American School, told The Straits Times, “All the TVs in every classroom were on. Everyone was just watching CNN the whole day.”
School functioned a full day. The high school counseling office also prepared a document for parents suggesting how to cope with the tragedy.
Student absences would also be understood and accepted. Prayer services for the victims and their families were held in the Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer today and will be held at St. Ignatius Catholic Church tomorrow.
Kaishi Lee is a Reporter for Youth Journalism International.