In August 2022, Siti Farhana began an internship with the Malay Heritage Foundation (MHF) while studying Malay Studies at the National University of Singapore (NUS). We interviewed Farhana to learn more about life as an MHF intern after she completed her internship in December 2022.
Q: How did you learn about this internship programme with Malay Heritage Foundation (MHF)?
I learned about the internship programme through an internship module offered for my major. After meeting with my lecturer, I was informed of several choices of potential internship programmes. However, what made the internship with MHF much more exciting and enticing was the excellent feedback of past MHF interns about their experience, as well as the role of MHF in promoting and preserving the Malay culture, heritage, and tradition, which was something I was very interested in.
Q: How well did you know about MHF at that time?
Other than MHF being located in the hot spot of Bussorah Street and that they do play a role in keeping the Malay culture and heritage alive through events and programmes, I do not know much about the exact role and responsibilities of MHF. Therefore, my knowledge of MHF was very superficial.
Q: Could you share with us your experience and role as an intern at MHF? Some memorable moments?
To be honest, I was anxious and afraid of how possibly daunting the internship experience would be. Even with encouragement from my peers who were ex-interns of MHF, I was still nervous and did not know what to expect. However, that all was mitigated on the first day of my internship, where I had orientation with another intern with MHF General Manager, Mdm Julina. She was friendly and warm and gave us a lot of guidance and directions on what was to come. That prepared me well and excited me to start my journey as an intern at MHF.
In the beginning, before the centre was closed to the public for renovation, I would remember guests and tourists visiting and enjoying the exhibitions and the area. This was extra sweet as Covid had severely limited movements and travelling, but seeing tourists from different parts of the world to the heritage centre was a proud and happy experience for me. However, when the centre closes at night, and the ambiance around the centre gets darker and busier with the nightlife, it made me happy to know that we are at a centre where we could easily engage with not only our local community but foreigners as well.
Furthermore, reminiscent of the film Night at the Museum, it was truly eye-opening to see the works behind the exhibitions, events and programmes held in the Malay Heritage Centre. I would not be able to obtain such priceless and meaningful experience and knowledge if it were not for this internship opportunity.
Q: What have you learned during your 3-month stint in MHF?
The most important learning point during my internship was the work and roles played behind the scenes to maintain and promote the Malay culture. I learned that one would have to multitask and not be afraid to dip their hands into different aspects, such as creating content for social media, writing programme highlights, or even sourcing sponsorships. This is what is required to keep the culture and heritage alive. Thus, the internship provided me with a wide range of experience. It enabled me to pick a myriad of new skills and knowledge, which I strongly believe will be relevant and valuable for me in the future.
Q: What challenges do you face at work and how do you overcome them?
A pertinent challenge for me was to juggle my studies and extracurricular activities on top of my work. It was not an easy feat, and I would admit I had difficulty, in the beginning, to do so. However, with guidance and time management, I can deliver on the work tasks assigned to me dutifully and diligently.
Another obstacle would be managing an increasing workload leading to MHF’s highlight event of the year, Hari Warisan (Cultural Heritage Appreciation Day) 2022. The heightened influx of tasks may be overwhelming at first. However, it is still manageable for me. It made me proud to look after all the work tasks (and upon completion), mainly consisting of social media posts and promotion of the event itself. I am thus contented with the contribution I have made towards this year’s Hari Warisan.
Q: As a Malay Studies student from NUS, what piqued your interest in pursuing Malay Studies? Are there any takeaways from this internship that you can apply to your studies?
Initially a Social Work major, I changed to the Malay Studies Major as I would like to be much more involved with my community and contribute in my own way towards the Malay culture and heritage. To some, it may be a risky decision. However, I do not regret doing so as it has blessed me with numerous priceless experiences, significantly my stint at MHF, where I could accomplish what I had hoped to do. As I had more opportunities to engage with the community through the various events and learn new perspectives and knowledge from prominent figures, writers, and educators, it has significantly expanded my mindset beyond what I could have possibly learned from a classroom on the NUS campus.
The Wacana Warisan Series (WWS) was where I could interact and engage with speakers from different industries and sectors. Through their sharing of their experience and research, I gained an understanding of what was happening in the Malay culture and heritage field from different perspectives. For example, I was able to understand more about the history of Malay dance from Dr. Noramin Farid, the decline of Malay language usage in the local context by Dr. Pitchay Gani, and the effort of tracking and preserving traditional Jawi texts by Dr. Sa’eda Buang. Being involved in running the series and attending them has provided relevant and current local context, thus extremely useful for my studies.
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 had done so for me. Through the internship, I understood how I could contribute in various ways, whether as a youth or as a Malay Studies major. Notably, in the context of youths, it is essential for more youths to be active and passionate about Malay Arts, Culture and Heritage, as they will be the next generation taking over. Without the participation of youths, it may lead to the worst-case scenario of the decline of the culture, similar to that of the Malay language usage in Singapore. Thus, this has ignited a spark of wanting to contribute and encourage my fellow youths to collectively learn and play a part in promoting and preserving the Malay culture.
Q: What do you intend to do after your graduation?
It has been my lifelong dream and goal to further my studies as high as possible. However, before I do so, I believe in the importance of gaining experience. Thus, I hope to work and simultaneously continue to participate and contribute to keeping the culture and heritage alive.
Q: Describe yourself in three words.
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