30 August 2019: Gift supports students pursuing opportunities around the world

By Yip Jie Ying

Yale-NUS students have a diverse range of interests both inside and outside the classroom, ranging from academic tutoring and mentorship to ecological and biology research. One of the ways in which students have explored these interests is through pursuing international experiences abroad – and for many, precious opportunities like these would not have been possible without the generous funding of donors to the College.

One of these donors is Alice and Peter Tan, whose generous gift has funded a variety of international programmes organised through the College’s Centre for International & Professional Experience (CIPE), in addition to supporting study awards for financially needy students. Over the summer, this funding enabled three students to embark on different summer abroad programmes.

Urban Studies major Charmaine Chua (Class of 2021) went on a three-week long summer course at the University of Amsterdam on a Summer Academic Scholarship, where she learnt more about Placemaking – the transformation of ‘spaces’ into ‘places’ to bring communities together.

Charmaine (standing, left) gives a final presentation of her placemaking proposal to her class and project partners together with her team member Sarah. Image provided by Charmaine Chua.

“I was really thankful to receive the Summer Academic Scholarship because it gave me the opportunity to participate in this programme and gain different perspectives. Especially for my course of study where we discuss issues relating to the city, being able to walk down a city’s streets and observe the vibrant street life really inspires me,” she said.

The summer programme gave Charmaine a chance to work on an actual placemaking project in the Science Park in Amsterdam, together with her fellow classmates who hailed from diverse backgrounds. As part of the practical project, participants met with the city council, and conducted interviews and research on the ground, before presenting their ideas to the city council.

“This hands-on experience was very useful as a starting point for understanding placemaking better,” she reflected. “There is still so much room for greater community engagement in the creation and design of public spaces, especially in Singapore. In the long-term, I hope to be able to push for greater bottom-up input and contribution towards the design of our public spaces.”

Another student, Saksham Mehrotra (Class of 2021) dove into the practical work of filmmaking as part of the Yale Summer Session in Prague, an intensive five-week session focusing on cinematic storytelling with the Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (FAMU). On top of theoretical classes from mornings till late evenings, participants also had hands-on opportunities to experience filmmaking and created four short films over the course of the programme.

Saksham (centre) is pictured with friends from the programme while on an excursion to Terezin, Czech Republic. The excursion was organised by his FAMU instructors. Image provided by Saksham Mehrotra.

“We worked in groups of four and each person was assigned a different role weekly, from director to editor, cinematographer and screenwriter. It was challenging to attempt to master these roles in such a short period of time,” Saksham said. These experiences helped him discover his passion in cinematography, through which he hopes to tell stories that will connect and inspire people to tackle social and political issues that we face in the world today.

“In all honesty, being able to learn filmmaking had always been a humble dream,” the aspiring filmmaker reflected, recalling how he used to spend his childhood glued to movies and documentaries. While he had previously pursued storytelling through the medium of photography, the summer programme gave him the opportunity to enhance that by bringing motion into picture. “Being able to attend this programme on a scholarship has been nothing short of a blessed opportunity for which I am extremely grateful.”

This gratitude for the philanthropic gift in support of international programmes is similarly shared by recipient Ivan Leo (Class of 2022), who spent his summer at the Yale-NUS Summer Institute in Global Strategy and Leadership. An intensive social science programme, the five-week course held at Yale University introduces participants to the skills and tools needed to address big issues affecting an increasingly-globalised and volatile world.

Ivan (first from left) and his tutorial group are pictured at the end of the programme. Image provided by Ivan Leo.

Throughout the programme, students had the chance to hear insights from and engage with practitioners in the field in an intimate setting. For Ivan, a lecture on and their role in increasing parental investment in education piqued his interest in the topic, motivating him to propose a potential research study on risk perception in parental education investment.

The course provided him with a newfound understanding of statistics and econometrics, and helped him develop a different lens towards evaluating problems, which complements Yale-NUS’ approach of broad-based learning. “As I am looking to possibly declare a minor in Economics or Global Affairs, I am grateful for this deep-dive into relevant subject matters in the social sciences,” the prospective Mathematical, Computational and Statistical Sciences major shared.

Interested in supporting Yale-NUS students embarking on programmes beyond Singapore’s shores? The Yale-NUS College International Opportunities Fund is another fund that makes such opportunities a reality for our students. Click here to find out more.