Pushing Personal Boundaries in Kumamoto

Temasek Polytechnic’s lecturer from the School of Informatics & IT (IIT), Ms Hannah Lim, accompanied 15 students on an Overseas Exchange Programme to National Institute of Technology, Kumamoto College from 16 to 24 March 2017.  The study trip saw students from all eight diplomas from the School of Informatics & IT taking part. 

The study trip, a first for many students, gave them a golden opportunity to discover and understand Japanese innovation, technology, culture and history. Hannah explains that such trips are extremely beneficial because it not only strengthens the students’ technical knowledge, but also sharpens students’ transcultural mindset. “When you experience a different culture through educational and cultural exchange, you gain a deeper understanding of those around you. This deepens your knowledge of foreign cultures and strengthens international relationships.” 

Year 1 student, from the Diploma in Big Data Management & Governance, Ng Wee Lynn Sheryll, remarked that the Kumamoto experience required her to get out of her comfort zone. “We were tasked to assemble a robot from scratch for a competition and we had no knowledge or experience. We had to overcome language barriers with simple body gestures and robot sketches. This enabled us to come up with a plan and execute it together. On hindsight I think that was very innovative of us!” she shared.

Another Year 1 student, from the Diploma in Business Intelligence & Analytics, Natalie Goh Hui Xian, said that she has learnt to be adaptive and embrace cultural differences. “I’ve learnt to be adaptive and accept cultural differences because every culture is different.” When queried about her key takeaway, she explained, “I am impressed by how the Japanese are so gracious and polite but most of all, I am inspired by their spirit of collaboration. When I was making my robot, one of the students, Barata, went out of his way to help me even though t it was his first time building a robot too. He even bought some supplies for my group to use so that we could make our robots. He also contributed many ideas to help improve our robot. I had expected him to compete with us, not collaborate. This experience was very humbling and it opened my eyes. We can do so much if we collaborate instead of compete.” 

Lew Yong Jiun, from the Diploma in Digital Forensics, shared that the key takeaway for him was learning how cars are manufactured at the Toyota Factory. “During the Toyota Factory visit, I was exposed to the process of manufacturing a car. I saw first-hand the processes involved in making a popular car brand. It was a real eye-opener for me and it has made me appreciative of having a car. This real life experience complement what I have learnt in the classroom and broaden one’s horizons,” he added. 

When asked if they would volunteer for more such trips in the future, all three students replied with a resounding yes. “Definitely!” said Yong Jiun. “This trip expanded my worldview and like Natalie, it took me out of my comfort zone. With increasing globalization, I think it is important for us to get an opportunity to appreciate other cultures to become worldly citizens of the 21st Century.”

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