EXPANDING HORIZONS BEYOND THE RED DOT (Part 2): Meet NTU School of Physical & Mathematical Sciences student Siow Jing Xuan! Jing Xuan took part in the Japan-East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youths (JENESYS) programme in 2019. In this year’s trip, besides top science & technology organisations like Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Olympus, students had the opportunity to visit Minamisanriku, a town that was one of the worst hit during the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. Jing Xuan shares with us her takeaways from her meaningful experience in Japan!
Tell us about your experience at JENESYS 2019.
We went around Tokyo and Sendai and visited a few science & technology organizations such as Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) and Kakuda Space Center. My favourite was definitely the latter as we were given a tour around the facilities and treated to a behind-the-scenes look on how the researchers worked on the rockets. We also visited the Imperial Palace and two universities.
Which part of the trip made the most impact on you?
The highlight of the trip was definitely the homestay at Minamisanriku where we had the rare opportunity to stay with families affected by 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. Since Minamisanriku is located on the coast, many houses were damaged, and thousands lost their lives. As the survivors and our host families recounted their own personal stories, we could see the sadness and fear in their eyes. One of them shared that although he was silenced by the trauma for three years, he pushed himself to tell the world his story so that more people are aware of Minamisanriku and help the residents here. This show of courage through adversity greatly inspired me!
On a lighter note, our host grandmother showered us with love and care, and treated us like her own. One night, she gave us onigiri and bottled green tea before we turned in and advised that if an earthquake or tsunami were to strike, we should escape with the food. This was because during the disaster, many of the residents did not bring food with them as they escaped, and there was little food to share. It was really a touching but profound, sad gesture.
How did you benefit from this experience? Would you recommend other students to participate in JENESYS?
I learnt more about the science and technology industry in Japan and had the first-hand experience of living in a small town instead of a large city. I would definitely recommend students to participate in JENESYS, because they will get to make new friends, gain new experiences, and explore new cultures along the way.
You’re currently reading Chemistry and Biological Chemistry in SPMS. How did you find yourself in this field?
I’ve always liked the sciences as compared to the humanities or economics. Back in Junior College, I was inspired by my Chemistry teacher, and it was the subject which came more naturally to me. At the university level, Chemistry is even more interesting to me as I also get to touch on some Biology and Physics topics, depending on the courses. Learning new and various topics keep me on my toes.
Any words of advice to prospective students keen to pursue Science?
If you are interested in Science, go for it because having interest in what you’re studying is important to keep you motivated throughout university. Also, besides learning Chemistry, you’ll also gain soft skills essential for the workforce J
JENESYS is a people-to-people exchange programme between Japan and the Asia-Pacific region launched by the Japanese Government. JENESYS consists of INBOUND Program from Asia-Pacific region and OUTBOUND program to Asia-Pacific region. The program aims to promote mutual trust and understanding among the people of Japan and the Asia-Pacific region and building a basis for future friendship and cooperation by these INBOUND and OUTBOUND programs. It also encourages an understanding and dissemination of Japan’s economics, society, history, diverse culture, politics and diplomatic relations. Read more about it here.