Cheryl Lin, currently a familiar face as a journalist on Channel NewsAsia, chose to go to FASS because she wanted to expose herself to a variety of disciplines within the humanities. She ended up choosing CNM because she knew she wanted to work in the media in the future, and that this major aligned the most with that goal. “I always had an interest in reporting so when I got to university, I did some internships at news outlets to get a taste of what it would be like. After interning at The Straits Times, I was hired to report at TODAY, and soon after I was redeployed to Channel NewsAsia.”
During her undergraduate years, Cheryl had also learnt French and Spanish at the NUS Centre for Language Studies. What started as a casual interest in French language and culture became a major part of her undergraduate studies, as she took the language all the way up to level 6. For Cheryl, French lessons were her favourite ones in university, as they were always structured, well-paced and interactive. The knowledge of the language and culture had made her stays and interactions with the French people more special, as she was not only able to communicate with locals, who gave tips on what to do, eat and see for a more unique experience, but that also gave her a more nuanced perspective of its rich history and society. She had a rare chance of working at a farm in a small French town, and even attended a French-speaking conference during her last year of studies where she worked with other youth from all over the world.
It is no surprise that her foreign language skills proved useful when she was producing international news, as there would sometimes be soundbites and information coming in in French. “Knowing the language meant I was able to help translate if needed.”
Looking back, Cheryl appreciates that studying at FASS exposed her to many different disciplines. “Being able to try more things gave me a better sense of what I did and didn’t like. Focusing on CNM equipped me with the foundation for a future in the media and emboldened me in making certain career choices.” To her, the value of an FASS education lies in focusing on intellectual development, rather than vocational skillsets. “And as banal as it may sound, one of my biggest takeaways from FASS is learning how to think critically. It’s also been a pleasure to simply learn more about the world around me and the interactions within it.”
Cheryl’s wildest dream is to be an international correspondent in a foreign country…, or to gather enough experience to become a media trainer or consultant. Perhaps one day Cheryl would become a familiar face on TV in France or some other French speaking country!
KHOO Choon Yen picked up Bahasa Indonesia at the Centre for Language Studies, and the acquired linguistic skills perfectly complemented her studies in BSocSci (Hons) in Sociology (2013) and MSocSci in Geography (2018). Choon Yen was already keenly interested in the study of people, communities and social phenomena during her teenage years, and her passion for the subject was confirmed when she was enrolled in FASS, where she majored in Sociology.
“Once I had been introduced to the sociological perspective, I could no longer ‘un-see’ the connection between the individual and society, where one’s biography which is deeply intertwined with one’s social location provided insights into the power differentials and social inequalities in the world”.
To complement her sociology education, she spent a great deal of time doing community work in the Taman Jurong constituency during her undergraduate years. Through the sociological lens, she became more aware about the injustices and inequalities of the world, where ‘personal troubles’ are deeply intertwined with ‘public issues’. She became deeply motivated to lead a sociologically responsible life while being mindful to conduct house visits and interviews with residents from an empathetic perspective.
Her knowledge of Indonesia and its language proved all the more useful when Choon Yen seized an opportunity to work full-time, upon graduation, at the NUS Asia Research Institute (ARI), on a research project that allowed her to dive deeper into the lives of migrant workers and their migration journeys. “I was quickly provided an extension of my contract as my Indonesian proficiency proved useful in the new projects that were commissioned under the Consortium.” Her involvement in the project (commissioned by the Migrating out of Poverty Research Programme Consortium) led her to pursue a part-time Masters in Geography to complement her foray into migration studies at work. By the end of her time at ARI, she had completed four research projects related to Indonesia, gender, migration, poverty alleviation, intra-household dynamics and youth aspirations.
For Choon Yen, the value of a FASS education lies precisely in its broad-based curriculum. Majoring in Sociology was an eye-opener to the workings of the world for her, while the regional perspective offered by her immersion in the Indonesian language and culture further enriched her perspectives. She fondly remembers Project Day, an essential component of the elementary module of Bahasa Indonesia (LAB1201), during which students were tasked to put up performances and serve homemade foods that they learnt from the teachers. In one evening, she was introduced to the richness of Indonesian way of life through song, dance, drama and food. “That night, I fell in love with lemper (chicken stuffed sticky rice roll) whilst listening to beautiful music from the angklung ensemble.”