Leslie Simpson, CFE
ACFE Membership Director
When the ACFE approached me about taking a trip to Asia earlier this year, I must admit I felt a little nervous. I was excited at the opportunity, but nervous to visit such far-away places as Singapore and Hong Kong. My international travel had been limited to my honeymoon in Italy and a few extended weekend trips to Mexico. Sitting in traffic in downtown Austin, Texas, felt like an eternity; I certainly had never traveled for more than 25 hours to go anywhere.
I was sure that the world I would be traveling to would be so different that I would stand out like a sore thumb. Culturally, would I be ignorant? Would I unknowingly offend the people I met? How tolerant would I be without all the comforts of home? I did as much research as I possibly could, but I felt, and still feel, that you can read all you want, but being in the midst of the experience is where you really learn.
The purpose of the leg of our trip to Singapore was to meet with our local chapter board of directors and local government agencies to discuss the ACFE's growth. We wanted to understand what anti-fraud training and resources they had and to squeeze in a site visit at the Marina Bay Sands, the hotel where we’ll be hosting the 2011 Asia Pacific Fraud Conference, Oct. 23-25. The ACFE’s membership is rapidly growing, specifically in Asia, where there is the largest concentration of members outside the United States We also have more than 10 active Asian chapters — we are truly a global network of contacts and resources; I experienced it first-hand.
Of course, the trip wasn’t all business. After all, I was traveling with my co-worker, Alani Mundie, International Law Enforcement Liaison, who shares in my interest of shopping for unique finds. And unique finds were what we found during our walks through the open air markets of Chinatown and Little India. We visited several mosques and temples which were decorated with ornate carvings and symbolic characters. As for the food, we liked chili crab so much we had it on a few occasions.
Now, as I reflect on Singapore as the international hub that it is and on the sights I saw, the people I met and my experiences, I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to visit. I can only hope my experience was not a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Singapore was very forgiving to this inexperienced American traveler; I still have a lot to learn however about the world outside of the United States. I’m lucky to have visited a beautiful country with amazing people, and I look forward to the growth of our membership in this region.
Stay tuned for a follow-up blog about our adventures in Hong Kong.