Meet Our Summer Associates (Part 2)
Wednesday Jun 19,2019 | From Our Office
The Summer Associates Programme is an 8 to 10-week experiential internship where students from diverse backgrounds have an opportunity to work on meaningful projects at the Lien Centre for Social Innovation. This year, we have interns joining us from the University of Pennsylvania (USA), Columbia University (USA), Hanyang University (South Korea), Yale-NUS College (Singapore), National University of Singapore and Singapore Management University. Get to know these young changemakers and find out more about some of their interests and hobbies below.
Check out Meet our Summer Associates (Part 1)
Chelsea OngResearch Associate (Shirin Fozdar Programme) | Rising senior majoring in Anthropology at Yale-NUS College
Chelsea Ong is a rising senior majoring in Anthropology at Yale-NUS College. At college, she is part of a peer-counseling group and has pioneered the socio-emotional leadership club with her friends. Her involvement in these activities stems from her interest in mental health and her desire to help youths gain clarity and conviction in their worth.
Q: Why did you join LCSI and what do you hope to gain out of this internship?
I applied for this internship out of my interest in social issues. As my parents are deaf, I’ve always had a desire to serve the underprivileged and the marginalised. In particular, I care deeply for youths, the disabled and refugees. Last semester, I went on a human rights exchange and saw first-hand the courageous and innovative ways in which people are pushing for change abroad, and thought to myself, “What about Singapore? What can I do?”. As LCSI’s work is highly regarded in the wider social sector, I wanted to be able to gain some toolkits and learn from thought leaders on how I could enact social change locally.
Q: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
The future is still a huge question mark for me. I did briefly consider working for the United Nations or dabbling in public policy, but the institutional route might not be the best environment for my personality or politics. Alternatively, I could also end up working for a design thinking company, be a human rights lawyer, or a professor. Who knows? What I do know, however, is that Singapore is my home. Going abroad has clarified that for me. I do want to serve in the social sector in some capacity and participate more heavily in local and regional activism.
Q: What do you do in your free time?
I’m not ashamed to admit that I spend hours singing in the shower and pretending that I can dance like Beyoncé (I cannot). Even though I’m helpless at sports, I also sometimes run and take the occasional beginner martial arts class just so my body doesn’t become mush. I also wonder if I might have been born in the wrong era because I enjoy many eclectic new-age hippie pastimes like ecstatic dance and meditation. They get me back in touch with my body, emotions, and spirituality - parts of us that we often neglect in our everyday life. The bulk of my time, however, I usually spend doing less exciting but much more meaningful things like spending quality time with family and friends. I also volunteer with at-risk youths as a mentor, facilitate with training companies, and help out at my mum’s Deaf Federation as a sign language interpreter.
Linda WangEditorial Associate (Social Space) | Undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania majoring in Mathematical Economics and minoring in Political Science and Computer Science
Linda is from Seoul, South Korea, and studies at the University of Pennsylvania where she majors in Mathematical Economics and minors in Political Science and Computer Science. She currently works in the Credit department of the Student Federal Credit Union at the University of Pennsylvania and is involved in her school’s Korean Students Association and Chinese Students Association.
Q: What are some of your academic interests?
Before going to college, I was planning to major in English or Philosophy. After coming to Penn, where the culture is more pre-professional, I have learned to consider things more realistically. I subsequently decided to major in Mathematical Economics, which brings me better career opportunities in the US and can better allow me to support my family financially.
Q: What do you do in your free time?
I listen to podcasts. Every morning after I wake up I listen to a news podcast called “Up First.” Then as I’m getting myself ready for work, I listen to “College Info Geek,” which gives you tips on how to become a good student (chuckle). I listen to audiobooks when I’m on plane rides. The most recent book I was listening to was The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, which I found too verbose. I would highly recommend The Power of Habits by Charles Duhigg though. Listening to these podcasts really gives me a daily reminder to invest in myself and be more mindful about self-improvement.
Q: What do you like about Singapore?
I really like how convenient everything is. Even though the weather is hot and things can get expensive, it is still a very accessible country. I think the government has done a great job at urban planning, and I personally feel that the infrastructure is especially well designed for tourism.
Needhi MehtaEditorial Associate (Social Space) | Rising senior at the University of Pennsylvania
Needhi is a rising senior at the University of Pennsylvania and has an interest in advocating for marginalised groups, raising awareness about social inequalities on campus and uplifting immigrant communities. In college, she writes for her school’s satire and fashion magazines. She is also part of her school’s first generation, low income community (FGLI), Asian American identity groups, and public health advocacy groups on campus. In addition, she is currently doing research on healthcare experiences faced by trafficked youth in Philadelphia.
Q: Why did you choose this internship?
Before coming to Penn, and just in general, I’ve always been very passionate about activism and very cognisant of inequalities having grown up in a rather rural part of America. Where we lived, I was surrounded by a dichotomy of many white, conservative, country folk as well as very wealthy (but also white) communities on the other side of town. Growing up in that kind of environment, I noticed how differences can really make you stand out and impact the way you grow up. So I think because of that, when I went into college, I knew that I wanted to do something social activism oriented. I got into journalism, and found that writing about these things helped me and people a lot—especially in raising awareness about social issues. Given that I really liked journalism, social issues, and being abroad, this was a good fit.
Q: What are some of the defining moments in your life?
I think one defining moment was when I was in elementary school. I looked around and I felt like everyone looked different than me. The other defining moment was when I came into college, looked around, and realised that everyone was different from everyone. When I was little, I used to think, ‘what was wrong with me? Why does everyone look different? Why do they have different families?’ Sometimes I felt uncomfortable introducing myself to people because of my foreign-sounding name or I would be ashamed to let people come to my house because I thought they would make fun of my parents’ accent. And so, growing up, I was definitely aware of my differences and would try to compensate with things like humor. But I think I grew from that and also grew to realise that this is a common feeling and that is also why I am into activism and want to be a doctor for immigrant families. I think it’s important not to force people to assimilate but to understand where they are coming from and interact with them in a way that makes them feel comfortable to be themselves.
Q: What do you value most in people and who are the people you admire the most in your life?
I value people who listen, are genuine, are kind to others. But I also like people who are adventurous. I admire my mum and my older sister. My mum, she moved to the US right after she got married. She did not go to college so she straight up applied for jobs when she got here, even with minimal English speaking skills. She raised me and my sister as a single mother, and as an immigrant in our community. And that is really inspiring to me. My sister is also very driven and empowering; she has taught me a lot about never giving up.
Peter Wang BingxuanEditorial Associate (Social Space) | Undergraduate at Columbia University in New York majoring in Philosophy
Peter is from Beijing, China and goes to Columbia University in New York where he is majoring in Philosophy. Focused on the intersection between his future career as a journalist and social activism, he writes for his school newspaper and is involved with an educational nonprofit.
Q: Why did you choose this internship?
I’ve always been interested in writing and reporting on social issues. I chose this internship because I heard that it was writing intensive and I wanted to work in journalism in a more professional setting.
Q: What is one thing that bothers you the most in the world?
Artificial intelligence and the possibility that they might replace human beings. While we’re not there yet as a society and there’s still a long way to go, there’re a lot of advances happening quickly.
Q: What is the greatest risk you’ve ever taken?
Visiting the United States on my own for a week and a half in 12th grade. I went to visit universities I was interested in applying to. My parents were concerned about me, but I went anyways.
Q: Last book you read?
Blindness by José Saramago. The novel depicts a world where everyone suddenly turns blind and the social order quickly collapses. It shows how vulnerable the moral foundation of our society is and I thought it was really an insightful and compelling work.
Valencia TohMedia & Marketing Associate (Shirin Fozdar Programme) | Undergraduate at Hanyang University (South Korea) double majoring in Media Communications and International Relations
Valencia finds beauty in the simplicity and depth of human connection and believes that everyone’s story deserves to be told. When she’s not pursuing her passion for dance or fashion, she is constantly planning her next step ahead to achieve both her career and personal goals. Previously, based in Phnom Penh Cambodia as a design and project management intern, she handled corporate clients as well as non-profit organisations such as the Cambodian Centre of Human Rights. During her time there, she regularly contributed to Geeks in Cambodia, a publication which focused on educating the public on technology and startup related news. She was also a student reporter attached to the Channel News Asia Sports Desk for the 2015 28th SEA Games held in Singapore.
Q: What do hope to gain from this internship?
I hope to gain a deeper understanding of how championing for social causes would work in a professional setting. Being relatively new to the social sector, I hope to not only play my part by offering my skillset but to also be more involved in supporting and being a voice for disadvantaged individuals. Through this platform I hope to be able to draw attention to the people and issues in society that should be discussed.
Q: So you spent almost 5 years studying in South Korea. What do you enjoy most about the experience?
My friends used to always joke that I only had coffee and milk tea flowing through my veins since I always drank at least a cup a day (and I mean bare minimum), so being in Seoul was like having a new adventure everyday. Not only do they have a thriving cafe scene, everything is well thought out from the aesthetic design, architecture and potential “social media corners”. After settling into a daily life routine there, I think it was the personal growth I enjoyed most. Having to juggling between integrating into a culture that embraced conformity while still retaining my individualism was a pretty interesting journey.
Q: Tell us something interesting about yourself.
Even though I generally identify as a couch potato, the only few things I’m willing to get up for is dance. When I was young I used to be an athlete but the sheer repetitive nature of trainings didn’t really work for me. Dance however, provides me a medium for artistic expression while also keeping my competitiveness (with myself) alive. That aside, it is in general just really fun!