Village Singapura: Team Building Activities in Singapore for Yamaha Motor
On 10 July 2015, participants from Yamaha Motor immersed themselves in a full Village Singapura experience, against the backdrop of a beautiful heritage building, the Hall of Nine Dragons. While travelling back in time to 1890 Singapore, they gained a deeper understanding of one another and fostered strong relationships among themselves.
To start the experience, the participants explored and learnt about the rich and fascinating history behind their venue – The Hall of Nine Dragons.
The Hall of Nine Dragons was built in 1928 and served as the Clan House for the Lim Clan in Singapore. Its impressive-sounding name originates from the Lim ancestors. Back then, Lim Gao, prime minister of the Zhao kingdom had nine ambitious and accomplished sons. His sons were referred to as the Nine Dragons, and their home known as “The Hall of Nine Dragons”. Subsequently, Lim descendants who migrated and set up Clan Houses in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore chose to use this name as well.
Located at Cantonment Road, the building comprises of two floors. The first floor is the main hall displaying ancestral tablets of the Lim Clan, while the second floor houses the deity ‘Ma Tzu’, the Goddess of the Sea who protects fishermen and sailors from harm.
After the enriching learning journey at Hall of Nine Dragons, participants moved on to the Running Man in Village Singapura challenge. They were divided into teams of 10, with each team representing respective Villages focusing on different company values (e.g. Village Integrity etc.). In their own Village, the participants went around to compete in six missions that requires them to work together as a team. These missions are based on traditions of Singapore & this further enhance the effect of transporting them back to 1890 Singapore. At each mission, two Villages will challenge each other in a game (e.g. Chapteh match, tehtarik competition). The Village that wins will get “money” given in Old Singapore currencies, while the losing Village looks for another Village to challenge. Eventually, the Village that gets currencies from all six missions will be crowned as the champion to win a much cherished prize for their village.
2. 6 Missions
1. Create recipes at the Indian Spice Shop
As an important trading port in the 1890s, Singapore landed herself on the spice trade route. Back then, Indian traders brought turmeric, cumin, cinnamon and other Indian spices that were highly valued and coveted. Till this day, these fragrant spices are used extensively in Indian cuisines for their trademark taste and smell.
At the Indian Spice mission, Villages were given the chance to see, smell and learn names of ten Indian spices. They also tried their hand at making Indian cuisines involving these spices through a cooking simulation. The participants were given a recipe of an Indian dish to read and memorize, and afterwards they had to put together the dish based solely on their memory. This was a good time for them to rely on one another as a team to recall what was on the recipe to create the perfect Indian dish and win currencies!
2. Be a Towkay. Calculate using the Chinese Abacus
In the past with no calculators, the abacus was used to calculate complicated sums in the midst of doing accounts and finance. The abacus was also used by middlemen (accountants of the past) to help towkays (business owners) keep track of accounts.
At Village Singapura, the Villages got the opportunity to take on jobs as middlemen. They were tasked to calculate and solve challenging math sums using nothing but the abacus. Even though some of them had difficulties using the abacus, they learnt to help each other along the way and tried their best to solve sums in the fastest possible time. Eventually, the fastest and most accurate Village gets to win the currencies.
3. Pull the Teh Tarik
Teh Tarik meaning ‘pulled tea’ in Malay is created with milk tea pulled between two mugs, forming a rich, frothy drink. Made from black tea, condensed milk and evaporated milk, the origins of Teh Tarik in Singapore can be traced back to Indian Muslim immigrants in the Malay Peninsula who set up drink stalls in front of rubber plantations. Today, it is a hot favourite of many Singaporeans and can be found in Hawker Centres.
During the mission, the Villages got the chance to make Teh Tarik by themselves. However, there was a catch. Participants in each village were only allowed to “pull” Teh Tarik using one hand, while the person next to them holds the other tin for the tea to be poured into. This synchronized pulling of Teh Tarik within one village was not easy, and it became even more challenging when they competed with another village to see who is faster. Teamwork within each village was put to the test, with the faster Teh Tarik making team emerging as winner.
4. Be a Kampong Champion. Kick the Chapteh
Chapteh, similar to China’s Jianzi (毽子), dates back to 5th century BC China. It was useful in training men in ancient China for the army, as well as Shaolin monks in the Tang Dynasty. In Singapore, the name “Chapteh” is thought to be either Malay or Hokkien in origin. It is also known as “Sepak Bulu Ayam” or Chicken Feather Football in English, and can be played like Sepak Takraw (kick volleyball).
At each time, two villages will challenge each other to a Chapteh match. Each Village will take up one side of the Chapteh “court” to start the match. Each Village will have to kick the Chapteh to their own team member at least once before kicking it over to the opponents. If the Chapteh lands in the opponent’s court, the Village wins 1 point. The Villages soon realized everything was easier said than done, and came up with strategies on how to work together and score points. At the end of the game, the Village with the most number of points won.
5. Make Chinese Paper-cutting
For the Chinese, Chinese paper cutting is an expression of good wishes and hopes for health, longevity and happiness. The paper cutouts were thought to bring good luck and happiness to the whole family. They were sometimes referred to as “chuang hua (窗花)”, meaning Window Flower in English.
During this mission, Villages were taught how to make auspicious paper cuttings for Chinese weddings by cutting out the Chinese characters “shuang xi (囍)”, meaning double happiness in English. Having these characters at a wedding will be able to bring happiness to the families of the bride and groom. As not everyone within the Village was taught how to make the cuttings at the same time, some of them took up the role to teach their fellow Villagers the cutting methods. Once again, Villages competed with one another to create the prettiest paper cuttings within the shortest time.
6. Play the Malay Kompang Drum
Origins of the Kompang can be traced to the Arab world. It was brought to the Malay archipelago by Arab traders during the spread of Islam in 13th Century. The wooden frame of Kompang can be made from Leban wood or jackfruit wood, with a goatskin hide tacked to the sides to form the drum “head”. Kompangs are usually performed in a troupe at Malay weddings and religious functions.
Just like a real-life kompang performance troupe, each Village was tasked to carry out a synchronized performance. They were taught basic interlocking beats known as the Nyalu and Selang beats, and had to learn how to keep this beat constant. Although there were difficulties in getting everyone on the same beat at the beginning, various Villages soon got the hang of it after learning to strategize and listening to one another. In the end, the Village that could put up the neatest, most synchronized Kompang performance emerged as winner.
3. Winning Village
Despite facing numerous challenges, This Village stuck together as one to overcome them all and emerged as the winning village! Congratulations!
Losing Villages have to serve and pamper the champion village using Singapore traditions they have learnt such as playing the Kompang music for them and serving them Teh Tarik. All of them had fun at our team building activities in Singapore.
Finally, the participants moved on to the last highlight of Village Singapura:
4. Village Drama-Mama
In Drama Mama, each Village had to come up with a 1-2 minute story together, rehearse and act out their storyline. Participants got the chance to act as famous figures like Sang Nila Utama, Sir Stamford Raffles and Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, and it is up to them to decide what will happen to the characters in their stories. Drama props are available to them to bring their characters and stories to life. Simple information cards on 5 different era of Singapore’s past was given to ensure participants who are not familiar with Singapore’s history have the background knowledge to actively participate. It was a fun and engaging experience for everyone while coming up with creative stories, laughing together and dressing each other up.
While the day drew to a close, everyone was drawn closer to each other as well through the Village Singapura experience. Happy memories were created and strong relationships were forged with one another, relationships that will last even as they return to work.
See Village Singapura in action in this 2 min trailer:
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