Singapore American School Interim

February 2017

We kicked off 2017 with our first adventure with the students of the Singapore American School as they ventured to the picturesque land of Timor Leste. The students embarked on an epic Summit to Sea adventure through the foggy peak of Mt. Ramelau to the coasts of the mystical Atauro Island.

Field Notes

Attending a school such as SAS is a unbelievable experience on its own, travelling the world with the wonderful people that make up the school is another thing altogether. Interim is an experience that both enriches the lives of SAS students and it serves to build long standing connections with people that you otherwise wouldn’t have met. Undoubtedly I have to say I believe that any trip in my future will have trouble beating my first Interim in high school.

As I looked through the daunting list of Interim trips months ago, I had no idea where I wanted to go or what I wanted to do, and to be honest, I didn’t even know Timor-Leste existed. I chose a trip that I thought wouldn’t go wrong, and told my friends about it, both hesitant and excited. What I didn’t anticipate was that everything would go right. Timor-Leste was a young country, barely older than me, yet that didn’t limit what it had to offer.

In respect to a country aged for centuries, Timor is simply learning to walk. It seems as straightforward as putting one foot before the other, but to do so, there is much more underneath the surface. As a country Timor must learn to crawl, stand, and even be prepared to fall. These challenges were brought into the light and seen first-hand by our interim semester group. We’ve been born into a lifestyle where everything is planned and ready for us to just fall into our places and become a part of society. Yet what if the society we are supposed to be a part of isn’t created at all?

Trip Impact

HIAM Health

Malnutrition Centre for Children

Timor Leste





Lives impacted


Funds Raised

In our mere week within the country we saw hospitality from people with nothing to give, we saw people giving time to the country rather than themselves, and we saw students putting everything they had into a chance to become part of a larger society to help their families. Each person in the country that we connected with was working to make their homes a pleasant place for the generations after them, a construct that we had long before we could even realize what had been done by the people before us.

In Singapore we are so single minded, driven in a straight line with no room for deviations. No room to stop and realize our advantage since birth. The students at SOLS 24/7 put their heart and souls simply into learning. Not being the best, not being the strongest, not being the smartest, not being the fastest, but simply being educated. Education is a privilege that we take for granted. Seeing the students at SOLS work so hard for something that each and everyone of us believe we are ‘entitled’ to hurts. It hurts because I know without this trip I would have continued to think that exact same way. We are so caught up in a world that is unfathomable to an inexplicably large portion of the world and so many of us don’t know or simply don’t care.

We don’t care because all we do is worry about ourselves, we are a part of a world where helping others is an exception. Where are part of a world where realizing that there are people in the world that need help is regarded as lost time. I’m a part of the issue, we all are, but what we represent isn’t set in stone. So maybe we can be just like Timor, we can learn to crawl, we can learn to stand, we can learn to walk, and we can prepare to fall. In the meantime, I think we could all use a little more of Timor inside of all of us.

- Cooper (Student - SAS Interim 2017)




Zhang Tingjun

Alexandra Toh

"The three main lessons I learnt from this interim trip to East Timor are: teamwork, optimism, and gratitude. East Timor’s breathtaking landscape, vibrant people, and an overall positive outlook on life, allowed me to enjoy this trip more than I could have possibly imagined."

SAS Student, Anya recounts her experience: