Yvonne Koh (MA SEAS 2012, Singaporean)
The faculty and my fellow students made my year in the department as enjoyable as it was educational. Faculty members are approachable, supportive and generous with their time and advice. They also come from diverse backgrounds and training, offering different perspectives on issues. I met dozens of bright, down-to-earth coursemates from all around the region who helped me engage with the subject matter, and many have become good friends.
I've gained valuable insights into Southeast Asian history and economies, which will help in my work. It was also easy to tailor the programme to my interests, such as by taking cross-faculty modules in public policy, literature, and law. I've started a social enterprise working with rural craftsmen in the region, and am also blessed enough to be able to choose from a range of job offers.
Dickson Yeo (MA SEAS 2011, Singaporean)
I entered the NUS South East Asian Studies program in the first term of 2009. Having spent 2 rigorous years in SE Asian Studies, I can safely say that the department provides the most intellectually stimulating course work within the frame work of area studies. The plethora of international students from around the globe testifies to our ability to compete with similar programs elsewhere, while our linkages with the best schools like Cornell and Kyoto University enables us to tap into ideas from the entire ideological spectrum. I have just been accepted into another Masters program at the International University of Japan under the Konosuke Matsushita Memorial Fund scholarship scheme. The results I obtained from NUS have stood me on solid ground for additional academic work. I hope to move on to a PhD program within Japan or with the Australian National University come 2013.
Anne Adelaine Santiago Manzano (MA SEAS 2009, Filipino)
I have always been passionate about being a Southeast Asian. I have often claimed that I would not want to live or work anywhere else. But I remember realizing in early 2006, while I was in the Thai-Burma border refugee camps that I needed a firm knowledge grounding on the region and the people to be effective in doing psychosocial and research work.
The NUS Southeast Asian Studies Programme provided me with the optimum multi-disciplinary environment for learning. It gave me the freedom to course my own education, as I chose to read classes that were in line with my interests. The various classroom pedagogies of my previous Professors have also inspired me in my current job, as a Polytechnic lecturer. Beyond that, I have also built friendships with fellow Southeast Asian–enthusiasts from the Programme.
Edwin Koh (BA Hons 2008, Singaporean)
I graduated in December 2008 with Double Major (Southeast Asian Studies with Honours and History. Then, the employment market was in a rather bad shape as most fresh graduates had difficulty securing that first job. Thankfully for me, I did not encounter such an unfortunate predicament and instead, I had the luxury of choosing from a range of job offers. I attribute my enviable position to the marketability of an Honours degree in Southeast Asian Studies. Almost all of my various interviewers had been impressed by the vast scope covered in the Southeast Asian modules reflected on my academic transcript. This speaks volumes about the growing appreciation for an inter-disciplinary, multi-faceted Programme; which is especially pertinent in a working world where employees are increasingly expected to be able to handle multi-pronged assignments. The Programme puts its students in good stead in this aspect and the requisite of a Southeast Asian third languange further enhances the value and prospects of a Southeast Asian Studies graduate. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time spent with the department, and I highly recommend the Programme for all young, aspiring 'Southeast Asianists' out there who seek to illuminate their analytical and research faculties in an environment that is second to none.
Jennifer Berger (MA SEAS 2008, American)
As an international student moving to a strange country to pursue a graduate education, I was certainly worried about the quality of the programme I was enrolled in. Luckily, my doubts were immediately relieved and I am happy to say that I had a wonderful experience completing my MA by coursework in Southeast Asian Studies at NUS. The students within the programme were incredibly diverse and international, and like myself had backgrounds not necessarily related to Southeast Asian Studies. I personally have an undergraduate degree in Art History. It was this diversity that made classes so dynamic, but I was also able to pursue my particular interest in art within the multi-disciplinary programme. Beyond the structure of the programme allowing for students to tailor their education to their fields, the professors within the department were excellent, and were also eager for students to pursue their own areas of interest. I had a wonderful experience in my programme, and left with an incredibly wide range of knowledge of Southeast Asia, but also with a strong understanding of my own discipline within the region. I would certainly recommend the programme to anyone interested!
Hendra Wijaya (BA Hons 2006, Indonesian)
Southeast Asian Studies Programme may not sound as glamorous as other majors such as Economics, Political Science, etc. But, trust me, what I learnt from this programme for my last four years as a Southeast Asian Studies major equipped me with the skills needed to succeed in my career as an enterpreneur in Indonesia. It allows me to fully understand not only Southeast Asia as a region, but also specifically Indonesia as acountry. These skills really help me in doing business in Indonesia especially in understanding the way Indonesians do business.
Suhaimi Sainy (BA Hons 2004, Singaporean)
I found the time spent in the Programme one of the most enriching during my four years in NUS. The course curriculum was well structured, diversified and interesting. The academics in the Programme came from diverse backgrounds, each shedding a unique perspective on an issue. I found that this balanced approach trains one to consider issues from various angles, something very helpful in life and work. A big PLUS to the Programme is the fun, cosy environment of the staff and students.
Ng Sue Chia (BA Hons 2003, Singaporean)
How much do we as Southeast Asians know about one another? This question was put forth as a challenge by the former head of the Southeast Asian Studies (SEAS) programme, Dr. Hong Lysa, to potential SEAS majors during a course recruitment drive. I was inspired in part by Dr. Hong’s speech and curious about “learning about Southeast Asia” from a multi-disciplinary approach when I registered for the programme. The serendipitous decision turned out to be a stepping stone for a long term career in research. The modules (including language studies) offered by the programme equipped me with skills and knowledge to understand the geo-political landscapes, peoples and cultures of Southeast Asia. From the start of my career in the private sector to my current job scope at a public funded think-thank, my ability to converse in Vietnamese and prior-knowledge of the social history of Southeast Asian societies have helped overcome initial conversational/social barriers and established key work ties. Indeed, I have the SEASP to thank for this career edge. It is also with the SEASP that I learnt the importance of tying the gap between academic discourses and ‘real life experiences’ through vigorous field research (hands on approach). In my current line of work, this works out to the ability to translate research topics into policy relevant recommendations.
Yuko Mitsushima-Inukai (MA SEAS 2002, Japanese)
Several years have passed since I finished the Southeast Asian Studies Programme at the National University of Singapore, and I am more convinced than before about the advantages of having taken the above programme. Some of the advantages are: the course offers interdisciplinary subjects on economics, geography, cultural studies, among others, which are catered to students interested in Southeast Asia’s different issues; scholars of various nationalities and academic backgrounds provide students with different approaches to the study of Southeast Asia; and students from within and outside Southeast Asian countries with various career backgrounds and viewpoints provide an ideal arena for an active discussion in classes.
While working in the daytime, attending the classes at night was not an easy task, with a load of readings and occasional assignments. However, preparation for discussions and presentations trained me on how to organize ideas in a logical and critical manner. Likewise, an essay preparation with guidance from the lecturers helped me in gaining research skills, e.g. analyzing issues, developing ideas and organizing them in a clear and persuasive way. I am very glad to say that I was able to deepen my understanding in the area of my interest and gained a certain confidence after completing the two-year programme.
After returning to my country, I found myself to be more competitive in the job market, and was able to get a post in one of the famous international NGOs. The real value of the learning experience was felt when I started working for this NGO. The knowledge, critical thinking, and flexible approach (involving various aspects such as cultural and economic, and from both your and my perspectives, for example) obtained through the SEAS Programme helped me greatly in planning, implementing, and evaluating community development programmes in cooperation with the local people. What I have learned was not just a static academic knowledge, but real knowledge and skills effective for solving life-related issues.
My learning experience in the SEAS Programme is truly one of the most valuable assets and treasures in my life. Still at this moment of writing, I may not fully recognize the extent of impact the Programme has given me. But I am very sure of one thing, that is, the learning experience has brought me much closer to the world of Southeast Asia, and this sense of commitment will take me along the long journey ahead. I cannot find any words to express my deepest gratitude to the lecturers and classmates who have shared time and led me to what I am today.
Le Cong Viet (MA SEAS 2002, Vietnamese)
I will always treasure my time at NUS where I have benefited from the great discussions in a multi-disciplinary environment at the Programme. The exchanges with students from different countries in the course exposed me to varied ideas and views. Indeed, the courses opened me to a whole new world. I was able to conduct a research project at NUS which was the start of several other researches that I had since done.
Melissa Ang Hui Min (BA Hons 2002, Singaporean)
As a SEAS Programme graduate, I am grateful for the opportunity to be involved in the ASEAN Tourism meetings especially since I had studied it during my Honours year (Dr Daquila's ASEAN Economy class) plus it's in Vietnam so I can further brush up my language skill which comes in very handy for my current portfolio in the Singapore Tourism Board (STB). All in all, I am very glad that SEAS Programme has equipped me in all these aspects and I am thus able to contribute in a small way to ASEAN and STB.
July Emily (MA 2002, Singaporean)
I have learnt a great deal from all the lecturers who taught me. The fundamentals of understanding and comparing Southeast Asian politics, economics and culture were very important and I must say that these were not compromised at all by any of the lecturers. I found the exchange with matured students and professionals who were already working with Southeast Asian governments and businesses, a strong quality of the program. The intellectual exchanges and the sharing of experiences which I had with these classmates have helped to enhance my learning. I interacted with my classmates a lot and found that it was very interesting to learn from them, to discover their different yet valid points of view and to spar with them to challenge my own beliefs and priorities. I also enjoyed greatly, getting to know the Filipinos, Vietnamese, Thai, Burmese, Indonesians, and even Europeans and a Brazilian in my class.
Rohayati Paseng (MA SEAS 2001, American)
As a Southeast Asia Librarian in a large research university, I frequently draw from the knowledge that I acquired during my study at the Southeast Asian Studies Programme. Not only did I gain knowledge through the courses that I took, I also gained valuable experience as a researcher, which enables me to understand the needs of the researchers at the institution where I am working.
Valerie Teo (MA SEAS 2001, Singaporean)
My BA (Political Science and Southeast Asian Studies) and MA (SEAS) from NUS were very valuable in getting me accepted in all the US universities I applied to (University of Virginia, University of Hawaii , Southern Illinois University at Carbondale) for my PhD, with offers of funding from all of them. Also, I was not required to do another Masters enroute to the PhD, unlike many of the other international students here. I was admitted directly into the PhD programs of several universities with funding or scholarship offers. This is how credible and respectable a MA (SEAS) from NUS is.
Bernadette Chia (BA Hons 2000, Singaporean)
I signed up for the Southeast Asian Studies Programme because the region has always held a special interest for me. Little did I know that being in the SEA programme, I would have the flexibility to study a wide range of subjects in different disciplines with Southeast Asia as a collective theme to give it focus and direction. This coupled with my Bahasa Indonesia language component has been very useful in my travels and in my career, especially since Singapore is a hub for SEA in education, healthcare and tourism.
Joyce Teo (BA Hons 2000, Singaporean)
Majoring in Southeast Asian Studies was the best time I had at university. The modules opened my eyes to the sights and sounds of Southeast Asian countries. We learnt more than history. There is so much variety to sink our teeth into - political economy, social and economic issues, and even cultural resource management. Having the opportunity to learn Vietnamese so intensively gave me an edge when I look for a job with the overseas experience of being immersed in another country's culture and life as well as the ability to speak a third language.