Hello from Singapore!
My name is Sydney (she /her) and I’m currently a sophomore majoring in Community & Nonprofit Leadership and Education Studies with a certificate in Asian American Studies. I’m on exchange with the National University of Singapore (NUS) as a student under the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. My courses focus on the formation and transformation of identity-based communities and creating/running a multicultural nation. I am also a UW Global Gateway Fellowship recipient, which is helping me fund this program and my travels in the region.
The UW Global Gateway Fellowship is a $10,000 scholarship to study abroad and use our experiences to give back to the community. I remember seeing UW Global Gateway programs through a few newsletters from IAP and OFSA. While I never looked into this specific scholarship until I solidified my study abroad plans, I know that I had to apply for it (event if I thought I had no chance of receiving this amazing offer). To my astonishment, I have received the fellowship and I am able to fund my study abroad program and some traveling. I’m super grateful for this as I would not have been able to take advantage of as many opportunities I am doing now.
My exchange with NUS allows me to take courses Did you know that NUS has been my dream school since 7th grade? The reason for going to this university has changed drastically (from pharmacy to ethnic studies) but my dream has never wavered. NUS is one of the top universities in Asia and it is at the centre of business, trade, and exchanging of cultures. At the epicentre of Southeast Asia and a blend of both Asian and Western cultures, I knew that I could feel safe but also step out of my comfort zone in Singapore. I felt that Singapore and NUS was exactly where I could fulfil my goals while being in an academically rigorous university.
One of my main goals I had was learning more about the formation, preservation and transformation of identity-based communities in the context of a multiracial and multi-ethnic nation through an academic lens and through personal experiences. Because Singapore is similar to the United States in that national, racial, and ethnic identities are salient in the culture, I hope to be able to connect with Singaporeans and other international students to hear about how people navigate spaces based on their identities. I wish to take classes on ethnic studies and nation-building of multiracial and multiethnic identities to learn how Singaporeans retain their cultural backgrounds, how their backgrounds influence their Singaporean identity or experiences, and then compare and contrast it to identities in the US.
I also want to learn more about myself, my identities, and my family’s sacrifices to immigrate and seek refuge in the US. By immersing myself in Singaporean culture and traveling to other Southeast and East Asian countries, I hope to be able to learn another language, meet other people with different perspectives, and visit places that my family came from. I have some plans in place, but spontaneous traveling is more eye-opening and interesting. Through my travels and immersion in many cultures, I want to be able to reflect on how the experiences shape and dictate my identities as well as better understand how my family has provided amazing opportunities for me through their sacrifices.
Until next time, wish me luck on my first weeks of classes!