Meet Mr. Chua Chew Yong, one of our oldest DAAD scholarship holders here in Singapore.
Mr. Chua recently visited our office to have a chat about how his time in Germany has sent him on one of the most interesting paths we have heard so far.
Born in 1939 as the oldest of 10 children, it was clear that Mr. Chua would only be able to study with a scholarship. Although he had offers to study in Japan, Italy and Germany he finally decided on taking up one of 2 rare DAAD scholarships and went ahead to study Maschinenbau (Mechanical Engineering) in Darmstadt. “Why Germany” we asked. He heard that German Engineering had a good reputation, he mused… something that we still hear from students and parents today. So in 1961 he started his long voyage to Germany on a ship, travelling via Sri Lanka, India, through the Suez Canal to Marseille, France, where he was picked up by the DAAD and travelled with other DAAD scholars from Asia in a van to his final destination (we are a bit jealous of this amazing trip).
Before leaving for studies in Germany, Mr. Chua had to sign a document with MOE that he would return after his studies, and serve a bond of service with the Government for a certain number of years. It would be 7 long years (after language studies, factory apprenticeship, “Vordiplom” & “Hauptdiplom” exams) until he finally set foot on Singapore soil again.
After his return, Mr. Chua started working for the EDB (Economic Development Board) and it wouldn’t be long until they sent him back to Germany in 1970 to work as head of the new EDB German Centre in Frankfurt. This challenging stint called for him to promote German industrial investments in the new Republic of Singapore. After six years of this tough assignment and with a good measure of success, he decided to leave Frankfurt and return to Singapore. His impeccable German had helped him immensely to achieve the good results. (We talked in German the whole time as he remembers his time in Germany or with German companies).
In 1976 Mr. Chua returned to Singapore, but his connection to Germany would remain via his work for German companies like Festo Didactic where he was training staff on automation. Then, during his long years as Sr. Lecturer in the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering at NTI/NTU, he even had a stint teaching German to his students.