At SMU, the world is your campus! All our students have equal opportunities to take up a global exposure programme. In fact, a vast majority of SMU students travel abroad at least once during their undergraduate years.
Why is global exposure so important? Through opportunities such as overseas community service projects, internships, exchange programmes, study missions and competitions, you stand to expand your horizons and develop a greater understanding and sensitivity towards cultures different from your own. You will also learn how to adapt and thrive in diverse and dynamic work environments. These perspectives will serve you well when you enter the workforce, where cross-cultural communication is highly valued in today’s global marketplace.
While many are familiar with overseas internships and exchange programmes, here’s a rundown of other global exposure opportunities available to SMU students.
Every school in SMU organises overseas study missions, which cover site visits, networking sessions and presentations by prominent industry leaders. These missions have taken our students to countries such as Argentina, Chile, China, Germany, India, Qatar, Russia, Spain, UAE, USA and Vietnam, where they visit multi-national organisations and gain insights into the operations of industries related to their field of study. Besides the valuable interactions with high-level executives, many students have established contacts that led to overseas internships and even full-time employment.
On her industry study missions to Indonesia and Myanmar with SMU’s International Trading Institute in 2013, Hasisha d/o Muhamad Nazir learnt so much more beyond her textbooks. “I had the chance to visit places like coal mines, rice mills, sugar factories and teak plantations,” she said. “For example, being able to touch the actual grains of rice and chunks of coal that we have, up till that point, only thought of as prices moving up and down, gave me a whole new perspective to commodities trading.”
Through her Business Study Mission in New York City, Jia Qi received an invaluable firsthand experience of the city’s dynamism, through her interactions with companies and people there. (Photo credit: Flo Yeow)
Chua Jia Qi, who went to New York City on a Business Student Mission in December 2014, found that the experience opened her eyes to the creative industry at an international level. As a cultural experience, Jia Qi also gained a first-hand appreciation of the much-celebrated ‘concrete jungle where dreams are made’: “There were many company visits and conversations with New Yorkers that left a deep impression on me. I think the biggest difference between company visits in Singapore and in New York are the people: the New Yorkers have this ‘air’ around them, it’s like they ooze passion out of their every pore! Every where we went, the people were so driven and passionate about what they do.”
Overseas community service projects
All SMU students serve at least 80 hours of community service each, as a way of giving back to society. These hours can be done overseas or in Singapore. Many students opt to take up overseas community service projects, which gives them the opportunity to meet the needs of those in other cultures by sharing not just physical resources but also manpower and knowledge.
Aavishka Ragam, who went to Meru, Kenya with Project Pendeza 2014, had the invaluable experience of working with the girls of Our Lady of Grace Children’s Home to supplement their academic knowledge with vocational skills. In helping the beneficiaries to aspire towards career paths that might help them overcome the poverty cycle, Aavishka received a great deal in return. “In a land so foreign, to feel so close to such young girls I barely have similarities with, was very heavy to let go. Spending five weeks in the presence of the girls’ simplicity, purity and innocence was a humbling reminder to remain grounded especially in the kind of dynamism and vibrancy we live in.”
After working with the girls of Our Lady of Grace Children’s Home in 2014, Aavishka was moved to continue serving with Project Pendeza in 2015 as one of the project directors.
Alongside her love for the girls, Aavishka believes so strongly in Pendeza’s approach of giving the girls support and exposure in a manner respectful of the local culture, that she’ll be returning this year to serve the project in a leadership capacity. She’s not alone; many who embark on overseas community service projects feel the pull to make repeat trips to work with the same community again.
In 2013, T Kumereash first went to Talla Ramgarh, Nainital, India with Project Gazaab — which aims to foster social entrepreneurship to fight poverty and bring about change — and returned the next year as the expedition leader. “I returned home with a keener awareness of rural villages in India, and a deeper appreciation for Singapore’s education system and opportunities available to us,” said Kumereash. “On one evening, we heard the roads were blocked and visibility was low due to snow fall, and didn’t expect students to show up the following morning. However, to our surprise, the students braved the difficult terrain and obstinate weather to travel to the Ashram to attend our lessons. Being students ourselves, we were humbled by their focus and resoluteness.”
Competitions and performances
Whether your interests and talents lie in academic challenges or co-curricular activities (CCAs), there are opportunities available to compete and perform on a global stage. Our students regularly take part in international case challenges and moots, while our interest groups often take part in overseas competitions and performances.
Samuel Tan, who led an all-freshman team to the KPMG international business plan competition in Hong Kong in January 2014, got more than he expected out of the experience when they took the first runner-up title.”It not only gave me the opportunity to present my ideas, but also widened my network and exposed me to the business culture there. I really appreciated how well SMU’s presentation-heavy curriculum had prepared me to speak with confidence.”
The Caderas Latinas team that represented SMU and took the championship at Dance Grand Prix Europe 2014 (Latin dance category), the largest and most important amateur dancing event in Europe.
Your CCA participation may also take you overseas to pursue your passions. In the summer of 2014, SMU’s three dance clubs — Caderas Latinas, Eurhythmix, and Indancity — set out for the Europe Dance Grand Prix in Barcelona, Spain. “The main objective of participating in the competition was not to win, but to push our boundaries as dancers through rigorous training and to expose us to the international dance scene,” said Mohamed Afiq Bin Mohamed Ismail, current president of Caderas Latinas president. All their training paid off; besides the valuable exposure opportunity they received at this competition, all three clubs emerged as champions in their respective Latin, Hip Hop, and Contemporary categories.
Post-competition, the two dozen Caderas Latinas members travelled onward to the Dresden Salsa Festival in Germany, where they participated in workshops conducted by international Salsa superstars and enjoyed world-class performances. Mohamed’s most memorable experience was a session where he learnt a choreography by World Salsa champions Adrian and Anita. “It was amazing being right there with them instructing and teaching us with their unique style and flavour. It felt like a dream, especially when they have been my inspiration through watching and learning from their online videos.”
If you aspire to learn from the global classroom, SMU just might be the university for you.
Undergraduate applications are open — visit admissions.smu.edu.sg to learn how you can Transform into a Different U.
Featured image courtesy of Flo Yeow.