Taking Our Traditions For Granted


Opening Ceremony of River Hongbao 2018 by Guest of Honour, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean. 

The younger generation nowadays (like us!) see traditions as duties to be observed mostly by parents or grandparents. And when we do involve ourselves in old customs and routines, we often do it without giving a second thought. Come Chinese New Year, for example, we’d instantly expect throwing reunion dinners, giving and receiving red packets, and visiting relatives. We hardly realise how much these traditions are a part of us until we make the conscious decision to skip it.

This year, 8 Heartware Network volunteers participated in the River Hongbao Project as liaison officers responsible for hosting performers from China and Taiwan. This was Heartware Network’s first collaboration with the Singapore Federation of Chinese Clans Association (SFCCA). This event consists of a planning phase from December 2017 to February 2018 where the volunteers researched and planned out the entire itinerary for the performers between 12 and 19 February 2018.


Our volunteers spent many days surveying the ground and discussing the best way to share the beauty of their country (in Mandarin!) to the performers.

Many hours were put in by the team during the planning phase to ensure the itinerary goes smoothly during deployment. They recced the ground, drafted out detailed descriptions of each landmark or tourist attraction, researched for suitable pick up and drop of points for buses, and made contingency plans for wet weather and last minute changes. At one point, our volunteers were met with the unexpected closure of the Singapore Flyer – but this did not take any of them by surprise.


On the eve of CNY, the leader of the Taiwanese troupe gave Ang Baos to each youth performer while they spend this reunion night away from their own homes.

Then the most trying period came: the eve of CNY. The volunteers were bombarded with a barrage of greetings, messages, and photos of everyone spending time together with their loved ones over reunion dinner. Their entire Facebook and Instagram feeds were flooded with sumptuous meals, bright clothes, and wide grins. Emotions began to stir and the volunteers had a hard time trying to suppress their tears while still fulfilling their role to the highest standards. The main priority for the volunteers were to ensure the performances at River Hongbao were well-executed. This was the moment where they realised just how much these traditions meant to them, having taken them for granted all these years.


Performers Appreciation Night: Our volunteers had spent many long nights preparing a video montage and a few songs items to show their appreciation to their China and Taiwan friends.

The sacrifice our Heartware volunteers gave to ensure smooth flow of the event was praiseworthy. It gave every one a deeper sense of appreciation for their own families and traditions. The dynamics of the team had definitely grown in synergy and camaraderie as they both laughed, cried and persevered together. 

Here are a few testimonies from the team:

“It was a huge exposure to see how River Hongbao functions behind the scenes as it is one of Singapore’s major festive celebrations. Especially when it comes to the overseas performers and our local Ambassadors sacrificing their CNY to be able to be here with us to perform and celebrate is truly remarkable.

From strangers to teammates to best buddies and friends, through the good times and the bad times throughout this event, through the tears we shed and the laughs we shared, this was one memorable and rewarding experience for us to remember forever, knowing that we were part of River Hongbao 2018 team as an Ambassador.”

-Shawn Tan (Team IC)

“It was definitely an eye opener for all of us. Having been to River Hongbao all these years, I have never really thought about the ambassadors sacrificing their CNY away from their family until this year.

Instead of spending CNY with my loved ones, I spent my CNY with the performers. Contrast it with the festive, relaxed atmosphere back at home, the performers backstage are constantly on tether hooks, ensuring they are ready before their act, and to ensure the performances on stage are seamless. Amidst the stress, we laughed, we cried, and ensured all went smoothly and safely. That was the most rewarding experience of all to the ambassadors on the ground.”

-Liow De Jun (Assistant Team IC)

“I feel that it is a completely new experience for me in which instead of having a relaxing reunion dinner with my family, I had to undergo a tense operation to ensure the welfare of performers. However, it is still a fun experience as I enjoyed the reunion dinner with the performers when we had Yu Sheng together, as well as admiring the firework shows and doing the countdown together. I think it is a really unique experience that actually allows us to forge friendships and deepen our bonds during this special season.”

-Chen Shu Dan (Research Team)