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Stay True to Yourself: A Singaporean Girl’s Academic Odyssey at EdUHK

What motivated a Singaporean girl with two degrees earned in the United States and 7-year work experience in Singapore to come to Hong Kong and start an academic odyssey in the EdUHK? Vivien Tang, a student of the Master of Public Policy and Management (MPPM) program, has a lot to say.

Vivien Tang, student of Master of Public Policy and Management (MPPM)

Born and raised up in Singapore, Vivien owns an enviable CV. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University at Buffalo and obtained her first master’s degree at Canisius College, a renowned liberal arts college in the US. Later on, she returned to Singapore and began her career. Encouraged by her family, Vivien was determined to step out of her comfort zone, and eventually decided to return to campus after seven years of social work services and professional research. She chose the Education University of Hong Kong (EdUHK) to embark on a fascinating journey in the world of public policy here at the Department of Asian and Policy Studies (APS).

Vivien Tang, a studious, ambitious, but down-to-earth Singaporean girl, delightedly shares her study path at the EdUHK.

 

Tell us more about your academic background

After I received my first master’s degree at Canisius College, I returned to my hometown– Singapore. During the master’s study, my career plan was to become a teacher, but then I gradually discovered my deep interest in research. Back to Singapore, I worked for two years in a university devoted to serving children with special needs. After that, I worked in a research center for one year. In this soul-searching period, I gradually developed my future goals.

 

I have worked in the Fei Yue Community Services, a noted social work institution in Singapore, for more than two years. I was engaged in research on community services and social work. The recipients of our services ranged from children to the elderly. I have benefited tremendously from my job at Fei Yue. My supervisor took great care of me and provided me with generous opportunities for professional development. The two years of research experience have sharpened my insight and cultivated my spirit of being down to earth. Always looking forward to new challenges, I was eager to explore the vast ocean of knowledge. Encouraged by my family, I eventually went ahead and started my second master’s adventure in Hong Kong.

 

Why brought you to the MPPM Program at EdUHK?

When I was planning for my second master study, the first consideration was distance! As an ethnic Chinese, I’m very much a ‘family person’. I have a 98-year old grandfather and I lost much family time when studying in the US. The short distance between Hong Kong and Singapore, along with the excellent academic environment here, made Hong Kong the obvious choice. My professional life has given me a strong desire to do meaningful things for the betterment of the society. The field of social policy has inspired me enormously. By chance, I participated in a workshop at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. The speaker was Dr Alex He Jingwei, the Associate Head of the APS Department. After the conference, Dr He shared with me his doctoral experience at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore, and he warmly invited me to apply for the MPPM program at EdUHK. Dr He’s encouragement strengthened my determination to embark on a study at here.

 

Your impression of EdUHK

How to make this place a better place” is the motto that always inspires me. The MPPM program at EdUHK offers exactly what I was longing for. The study here has strengthened my academic training in policy analysis, organizational behavior analysis, public sector management and development, and so forth, and has also cultivated my practical ability in public policy and management. The APS Department has a strong faculty. More importantly, professors are willing to nurture the future talents by providing them with best research opportunities without any reservation. Dr He, my supervisor, invited me to join his research project funded by the World Health Organization’s Asia Pacific Observatory on Health Systems and Policies. He offered me lots of opportunities and suggestions on my own research. Two of our research papers are currently under review in leading SSCI journals. He is a great source of inspiration and mentorship in my study journey. When he knew that I had plans to pursue a PhD degree, Dr He enthusiastically shared his own academic experience with me, offering many helpful suggestions, which built up my confidence and allowed me to try and explore the unknown.

 

Dr Isabella Ng Fung-sheung, another Associate Head of the APS Department, is sister-like professor. We have a very close relationship and often hang out together. She makes me and other international students feel at home in Hong Kong, so we never feel alone under the foreign sky. As the founder of the Hong Kong Society for Asylum-Seekers and Refugees, Dr Ng devotes herself to the noble enterprise of social charity services. She often invites students to join volunteer services to help disadvantaged groups in the city. I volunteered in the distribution of relief supplies to the underprivileged people during the difficult time of Covid-19. Dr Lina Vyas, the Program Leader of MPPM, is a helpful and caring professor. I will discuss with Lina when I get any questions about the program.

Share with us your life at EdUHK

The academic atmosphere of EdUHK is exceptional. Coming from very diverse backgrounds, my classmates share many interesting stories about their hometown. In the spare time before the pandemic, we often explored Hong Kong cuisine together and enjoyed the countryside. The classroom atmosphere of APS is particularly harmonious. When courses cover the case of Singapore, I was often invited as guest speaker. This made me very proud.

The Covid-19 pandemic has forced universities in Hong Kong to switch teaching to the online mode. Thanks to the sufficient resources that EdUHK has deployed, online teaching has not adversely affected us. The fantastic location of EdUHK makes it a paradise in Hong Kong. At the time of the ever-changing pandemic, looking at the lush greenery outside the window, my mood gradually turns good.