Nurul ‘Aqilah commenced her internship at the Malay Heritage Foundation (MHF) in August 2022 while pursuing her undergraduate studies at Nanyang Technological University (NTU). Aqilah recently completed her internship in November 2022, and we got in touch with her to find out more about life as an MHF intern.
Q: How did you learn about this internship programme with Malay Heritage Foundation (MHF)?
I found out about this internship while sourcing for a part-time internship that I could do while in school. Coincidentally, I saw the internship programme being offered by MHF on their website and felt that the organisation’s aims and internship job scope resonated with me. I also got to know more about the internship through a previous intern, Nur Farzana, who had interned at MHF in 2021. After learning more about the internship through the website and Farzana, I decided to try and apply for it!
Q: How well did you know about MHF at that time?
I had the common misconception that MHF was the same as Malay Heritage Centre (MHC) due to the similarity in their names and their aims as an organisation. However, I realised that MHF targeted knowledge sharing and focused more on the intangible parts of culture and heritage. However, MHC was focused on the exhibitions and physical artefacts of heritage.
Q: Could you share with us your experience and role as an intern at MHF? Some memorable moments?
As an intern with MHF, some tasks I did were transcribing and translating, writing articles, creating posts, and managing events.
One task that I particularly enjoyed doing was designing posters for MHF, as it was something that I had always wanted to try but was not given any opportunity to do so previously. Some of the posters I designed included posters of pantuns and publicity posters for events such as the Sembang Ilmu Series and Wacana Warisan Series. Through this opportunity, I was able to hone my creativity and design skills.
Besides that, I’ve learned to write articles such as Programmes Highlights for Mr. Isa Kamari’s CLS lecture, Dr. Pitchay’s CLS Lecture, Dr. Noramin’s WWS Lecture, and SIS #8. Writing programme highlights allows me to digest the content and knowledge shared by the guest speakers. It also allows me to master my writing skills to write engaging and interesting articles for MHF’s audience.
Overall, the most memorable moment I had was being allowed to emcee at one of the Sembang Ilmu Series sessions. This was memorable because it was the first time I was involved in an event beyond doing only background work. Even though it was intimidating to be an emcee for a crowd of people I’d never met, this opportunity allowed me to gain confidence in public speaking. Hence, being entrusted with this emceeing duty was a unique and memorable experience for me in this internship.
Q: What have you learned during your 3-month stint in MHF?
First, I’ve learned to become more comfortable writing and speaking in Malay, as much of MHF’s target audience and speakers are usually well-versed in the Malay Language. Hence, I needed to push myself out of my comfort zone to write articles and Malay language posts. As a Sociology student, I usually write and converse in English. Hence this internship allows me to practise and improve my use of my Bahasa Ibunda (Mother Tongue).
Additionally, as MHF’s events are centred on knowledge-sharing events, there were many instances when I was surrounded by more knowledgeable and well-experienced prominent figures in the Malay Language, Cultural and Heritage scene. This was sometimes an intimidating experience as I was unsure how to interact with them, especially since I was more used to a youth-only environment. Hence, this internship allowed me to step out of my comfort zone and experience a working environment where I need to interact and engage with older individuals and learn how to carry myself out professionally.
Q: What challenges do you face at work and how do you overcome them?
One challenge I faced at work was using the formal Malay Language. When I was tasked to transcribe Mr. Isa Kamari’s CLS Lecture, he used many complex terms, such as alienation and firasat, which I found difficult to translate into Malay. This was because I was afraid I would mistranslate it, and as a result, this may lose the original meaning that Mr. Isa wanted to convey. However, I overcame this fear by constantly communicating with Fadli, one of my mentors in MHF, and asking him to vet and check whether I made any mistakes in my work. Hence, this made me more aware that it was customary to be fearful of making mistakes. However, someone else is always ready to extend a helping hand as long as you ask!
Q: As a Sociology student from NTU, what piqued your interest in pursuing Sociology? Are there any takeaways from this internship that you can apply to your studies?
I chose to major in Sociology as the content piqued my interest, and sociology, the study of societies and people, would be applicable anywhere I go! In many of my modules, we were given the flexibility to choose the topic we wanted to research. I was often drawn to studying the Malay community because it is relatable and relevant. As such, this was also one of the reasons I was interested in trying for the MHF internship, as I hoped to gain more insight into my community through first-hand experience.
Hence, some takeaways I received from this internship that I could apply to my studies is a deeper and more insightful understanding of the Malay community today and the thinking that each generation of the community currently has. The difference in thought according to age is seen in the various lectures that MHF conducts. For example, CLS for the older generation and WWS and SIS for youth. As I am currently in my final year, I am doing my Final Year Project (FYP), which is about Malay-Muslim Youth and their Mental Health Seeking Behaviours, and I do feel that I will be able to draw on the knowledge and insight I’ve gained from this internship while researching and writing my FYP.
Q: Going through the internship, does it help shape and further reinforce your interest in learning more about our Malay Arts, Culture & Heritage?
Yes, it does! Through this internship, I’ve been exposed to more Malay Arts, Culture and Heritage forms by sharing knowledge in the CLS, WWS, and SIS sessions. For example, through Dr. Noramin Farid’s WWS lecture about Malay Dance, I now know the history behind the joget/ronggeng dance form, and this piqued my interest to learn more about the arts. Even though I had joined Malay Dance activities before, I was never inclined to learn more about such arts’ theoretical and historical aspects. I always viewed the performing arts as a practical and hands-on activity. Hence, the internship exposed me to the rich history behind these performing arts and developed an interest in me to learn beyond just the practical aspect of dance.
Q: What do you intend to do after your graduation?
After graduation, I plan to pursue a meaningful career whereby I can help others. It will be a bonus if I can target the Malay community first, especially after learning of the respective struggles and challenges our society faces through this internship.
Q: Describe yourself in three words.
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