Thursday, 15 March 2012

Japan, here we come


TO GAIN more knowledge in the field of Engineering, Yayasan Pelajaran MARA (YPM) has been collaborating with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) under the Malaysia Higher Education Loan Fund Project (Help) in providing scholarships for engineering students.

Sending it’s fifth batch of students to Japan this year, YPM consultant Tatsuo Konta said, “The scholarship, which is given to about 80 students each year, is bond-free, and we have seen an increasing number of graduates getting jobs in Japan, or in Japanese companies.”

Help scholarship recipients apply for the programme after their Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examinations, and when accepted, they complete three years of study at Universiti Selangor (Unisel) before moving on to their final two years of study to get a degree from a Japanese university.

“JICA agreed to provide loans to YPM because the Japanese people were excited that Malaysia was sending so many students to Japan,” said Konta.

New challenge: Siti and Ahmad Sufian are eager to learn more about Japanese habits and attitudes.

It all started after former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Look East Policy. The policy’s objective was for Malaysians to learn and emulate the work ethics and knowledge of the Japanese.

Konta said that with about 3,500 applications each year, the students were shortlisted based on their SPM results, followed by a series of interviews.

“When selected, the students would begin an intensive course to learn the Japanese language, because when they go to Japan, they would have to study in Japanese.”

Siti Nor Khuzaimah Amit, 22, who would be pursuing her Bachelors Degree in Electrical Engineering at Japan’s Keio University, said she looked forward to her departure on March 24.

“This will be my first time in Japan, and I look forward to learning more about their cultural habits and attitudes, such as how they place so much importance on punctuality, for example.”

She added that a challenge for her would be to make friends in a new environment.

“We would be entering the university in the second year, so most of the students there would already have their own circle of friends and study groups. Furthermore, they would be speaking in Japanese, and I would have to break through the language barrier first.”

Being the only female in her class, Siti Nor Khuzaimah said she was concerned about how her classmates would treat her.

Coming from Miri, Sarawak, the youngest of three siblings said she first found out about the scholarship through her school teacher.

“I never expected to come this far, and I hope to make the most of this opportunity, and bring some good values that I learn in Japan when I come back home,” she said.

For Ahmad Sufian Abdul Satar, 21, the opportunity to study at Waseda University was beyond his wildest dreams.

“I never thought about going to Japan, until I heard about this scholarship. However, I like the Japanese culture a lot, especially their traditional dances and ceremonies. I have also begun watching Japanese movies and anime to learn the language.”

Being a Mechanical Engineering student, Ahmad Sufian said he was looking forward to learning more about the technological aspects in the field and plans to gain some work experience in Japan before coming back to Malaysia.

“I hope to learn as much as possible while I am there, and hopefully gain some work experience before pursuing postgraduate studies in the future,” he said.

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