6 instances in 2016 when everyday Singaporeans did us proud - and we're not talking about Joseph Schooling

Mrs Lee Hsien Loong carries the blue dinosaur pouch designed by Pathlight School student See Toh Sheng Jie. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Move over, Joseph Schooling.

The swimming prodigy might have made Singapore gush with pride by winning the country's first Olympic gold medal this year, but many ordinary Singaporeans also proved they could also do the nation proud simply by carrying out acts of kindness.

Or in the case of one Pathlight School student, making an unlikely fashion statement.

1. Dinosaurs at the White House

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Meet 19-year-old Pathlight student See Toh Sheng Jie, who designed the blue dinosaur print pouch carried by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's wife Ho Ching during an official visit to the White House.

All thanks to Mrs Lee Hsien Loong, an eclectic pouch with dinosaur motifs designed by Pathlight School student See Toh Sheng Jie gained an instant following. This was after Mrs Lee carried it during a White House visit and on a trip to the museum with US First Lady Michelle Obama in August.

Within a day of the visit, all 200 pouches were sold out. Each purse costs $14.80.

Who said you needed branded bags to make a fashion statement?

2. Shelter for the Homeless

billionBricks co-founder Prasoon Kumar with the weatherHyde tent. PHOTO: ST FILE

Hollywood actor Ashton Kutcher and rapper Lil Wayne raved about it, but did you know this weatherproof tent was actually designed in Singapore?

Created by billionBricks, a local non-profit organisation, the tent provides privacy and protection from extreme weather conditions for the homeless. Co-founder Prasoon Kumar had sketched out of the design of the tent in 2014, which was tested by 12 homeless families in New Delhi.

3. One people, one Singapore

A group of Hindu devotees perform CPR on an elderly man who collpased at a Serangoon Road petrol station on Oct 23, 2016. PHOTO: COURTESY OF KUMAR V

For many, this uplifting tale highlighted Singapore's unique multiracialism. These Hindu devotees might have been dressed in ceremonial attire, but they rushed to the aid of an elderly Chinese man who had collapsed at a petrol station along Serangoon Road.

One of the devotees, Mr U Silvakumar, administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation on the man.Mr Silvakumar later received an award from the Singapore Civil Defence Force for his public spiritedness.

4. No language barrier too far

Ms Nuradillah Zakbah helped mediate between a group of Chinese tourists and an African American man. PHOTO: COURTESY OF NURADILLAH ZAKBAH

If there ever was a shining example that it pays to know more than one language, simply look to Ms Nuradillah Zakbah for inspiration.

The 31-year-old defused a potential "crisis" at France's Charles de Gaulle airport when she used her language skills to resolve a misunderstanding between Chinese tourists and an African American man.

Long story short: Chinese tourists were saying "na ge" in Mandarin (English for "that"), American man thought they had called him a n***er.

Ms Nuradillah, who speaks both languages, jumped in to clear up the misunderstanding. She even threw in a little French to appease an airport security guard.

5. Hero of Seletar Dam

An act of kindness can save a life - and precious travelling time too.

A driver who helped a tortoise cross the road at Seletar Dam earned praise from netizens, after footage online showed the creature crawling across the three-lane road, holding up traffic as cars tried to change lanes to avoid running over the jaywalker.

6. A golden dream fulfilled

Terminally ill Isaac Lahl spent his 13th birthday patting as many golden retrievers as he wished. PHOTO: ST FILE

It might have been just a boy's simple wish to pat golden retrievers, but the big-heartedness of many Singaporeans shone through when they turned up in force with their dogs to fulfil just that.

Isaac Lahl, who was stricken with brain cancer, celebrated his 13th birthday surrounded by about 100 golden retrievers. He died more than a month later.

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