Jasper Tang, who has been with the Global Relations Office for seven years, is managing the STEER Programme which has brought him to places like Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. This year, he accompanied a group of students to Uzbekistan.
1. What does STEER mean to you?
Besides providing NUS students with the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the diverse socio-cultural-economic environments of new fast-evolving regions, the NUS STEER (Study Trips for Engagement and EnRichment) programme has allowed me to experience and appreciate unique cultures in different countries. It has also broadened my outlook in life beyond Singapore
2. An interesting fact about Uzbekistan and life in the country
Uzbekistan is a double landlocked country; that is, a landlocked country surrounded by other landlocked countries, with none of its rivers leading to the ocean.
Palov is the national dish traditionally made with rice, mutton and grated carrots. There are regional spin-offs with other ingredients like pumpkin, peppers or dried tomatoes. The version here uses horse meat and quail eggs, a meal I truly enjoyed because of its rich texture and flavours.
3. An interesting anecdote about managing the programme
One of the best ways to manage the programme is to engage the students at every step of the programme and incorporate their ideas and suggestions. Taking ownership of the programme will help ensure its success.
4. The challenges of the programme
As a staff bringing a group of young adults overseas, there is an added urgency to learn as much as one could about the country, and to provide the participants with answers to the questions that they might have. We also need to keep a lookout for their general safety and health during and after the official programme for the day. While it can be stressful at times, the lifelong lessons and friendships forged from the 2-week programme provides me with the ultimate satisfaction of a job well done. This in turn, drives me to improve current programmes and organise more exciting STEER programmes.
5. What is your personal wish for the programme?
I hope that the STEER programme will continue to act as a catalyst to encourage more NUS students to leave their comfort zone to venture abroad. We hope that through such educational trips to lesser-known regions like Central Asia, they will consider working and living in these countries after graduating from NUS.