Sunday, 25 November 2012

Temasek Poly opens residential village

Foreign students will get chance to interact with local flatmates
By Kezia Toh, The Straits Times, 24 Nov 2012

A RESIDENTIAL village - the first of its kind in a polytechnic here - was officially launched at Temasek Polytechnic (TP) yesterday.

Local students taking a transnational studies module will live on campus with their foreign counterparts for two weeks in apartments previously used for staff housing.

The module examines different cultures and identifies methods to improve cross-cultural competencies in the workplace.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong launched the Glocal Connect Village (GCV) yesterday and visited the refurbished apartments and facilities such as art exhibition and performance spaces.

The village will also have other amenities such as pottery studios and language laboratories, where students will learn about foreign cultures and pick up languages like French, Japanese and Italian.

In a Facebook post last night, Mr Lee said: "The new GCV comprises residential facilities, a beautiful atrium and many common spaces. It is used to promote interaction and understanding between TP's local and international students."

He added: "Always energised after visiting our schools and tertiary institutions, and meeting enthusiastic and talented young people."

Speaking at the launch, TP's principal and chief executive officer Boo Kheng Hua said developing "cultural intelligence and sensitivity" to understand cultural nuances is an increasingly vital skill.

"More and more of us will work in international companies, engage people from other cultures and countries and collaborate with people from all over the world," he added.

One good way to encourage local and foreign students to mingle is through the compulsory residential programme.

Each student will live with four flatmates who could be of another nationality or ethnicity. They will share a furnished flat - with three bedrooms, a living area, two bathrooms and a kitchen - for two weeks. Meals will not be given.

The polytechnic started to pilot the programme in 2009 for local and foreign students to live, play and study together.

So far, some 2,500 students have taken the module. It is open to all TP students.

Instead of a final examination, they will be graded on components such as group projects, a reflective journal on the residential stay, peer appraisal and quizzes.

Without living in such close quarters with other students - especially those from overseas - peer interaction would be limited to the classroom and canteen, said product and industrial design student Aaron Yong, 24.

Finnish exchange student Anna Lanamo, 22, said the residential stay was a chance to study cross- cultural differences up close.

"I don't just want to come here to study but learn the culture here - to see if the reason people behave in a particular way is linked to personality or cultural differences," she said.

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