Friday, 7 December 2012

Time to Write sth about the NOC Israel

After more than a month's waiting, I received an email today from the Financial Aid office saying that I am not permitted to go for the NOC Israel programme. 

Dear ShaohuanI refer to your appeal to participate in NUS Overseas College (NOC) Israel. As spoken on 6 November 2012, we understand that you are very eager to attend the NOC and we had submitted your appeal, together with the appeal from NOC to the sponsor.  However, we regret to inform you that your appeal to participate in NOC Israel is not successful.   The sponsor has advised that you look for an internship locally instead, if needed. We wish you all the best. 

Actually, I was informed by the NOC coordinator that she has been informed by her colleagues that the sponsor officially rejected my appeal(together with Prof.Ben's and NOC's appeals) on 21st Nov. She tried to confirm with her colleagues whether the decision is final or not, hoping to help me for the last try. However, I guess the result won't be positive anyhow. I am sorry for those who loved and helped me along the way. I am sorry that I didn't make it in the end.

There are several questions you may ask and I list some of them here in this blog.
1. You already get selected by NOC Israel, why do you need to ask permission from the sponsors?
2. Who's the sponsors? What do they want?
3. Why is it related to the Financial Aid office?Why didn't you contact the sponsors directly?
4. Did you try your best to get this opportunity?
5. Is there still hope?
6. Any alternatives? What's your next plan?
7. What do you learn from this experience?

Now I explain the above questions one by one in an objective matter(brief answers are highlighted).

1. You already get selected by NOC Israel, why do you need to ask permission from the sponsors?It is very hard to get an Israel working permit visa and it normally takes more than 3 months to proceed according to the NOC Israel coordinator. Thus the NOC Israel's approach is to apply for a student pass which will be handled very quickly.

In order to apply for the student pass, we will have to get the approval from school, which consists of a Term Leave approval from the faculty and the sponsors' approval if the candidates happen to be scholars.

I got the approval from the financial aid office saying that I am eligible to go for NOC Israel. However, my faculty coordinator said that my scholarship has some restrictions on overseas timstamp.  She checked with the financial aid office again saying that I am not eligible to go as I have been for SEP(student exchange programme) thus cannot go for NOC. The financial aid office then withdrew my offer.

I refer to the scholarship handbook which says"Scholars are also not allowed to participate in the Student Exchange Programmes(SEP) that require them to complete the programme partially with an overseas partner University for more than one semester."which means I cannot go for overseas programmes which is more than one semester.  To my understanding, it is OK that I can go for two separate programmes which is both not more than one semester. However, the financial aid office insists that I have to add up all my overseas programmes together to be no more than one semester. That's where the conflict begin.

2. Who's the sponsors? What do they want?

I was selected by the Ministry of Education(MOE) in Singapore four years ago to take the bachelor's degree here in NUS. They offered enough housing allowance, living allowance and school fee allowance which makes me financially independent. However, it has a big tradeoff which says that I have to work in Singapore registered company for no less than 6 years.Besides the 6 years' bond, there are other regulations which we will need to follow. The sponsor is one of the biggest companies in Singapore. However, I was told by one of my seniors that the sponsors are no longer paying, but MOE is paying all the money.

Their intention is to attract competitive human resources to Singapore to help maintain and further improve the competitive education and working environment.  It seems to be not only about money, but also about the benefits of the whole society. As for the "no more than one semester" regulation, their first intention might be to avoid the scholars from finding jobs overseas and escaping from the bond. The second intention would probably to protect the local students' opportunities from the competitive scholars. However, none of the above concerns is true in my case. I'm not working in Israel after graduation. I'm not stealing the local students' opportunities as we don't share the same skill set and we are equally selected. Among all the picked NOC Israel students, none of the local students are software engineers. Some withdrew their offers after knowing the unstable military situation in Israel. I cannot come up with a better reason why they disapprove the request. Maybe the sponsors are like Pharisees who care more about rules.

3. Why is it related to the Financial Aid office?Why didn't you contact the sponsors directly?

The Financial Aid office's role is a middle man which help communicate between the sponsors and the students.Students are not able to contact the sponsors directly as the contacts will be kept secretly within the Financial Aid office.

4.Did you try your best to get this opportunity?
I think so.

5. Is there still hope?
Probably not.

6. Any alternatives? What's your next plan?

Though I didn't get the chance to go for the NOC Israel programme, I still believe that entrepreneurship is the right path I shall be going. The company I planned to work in Israel is going to start a branch here in SG. I would love to help set it up. However, I may have to focus a lot on my studies as well, especially on things which may affect my future path. If possible, I'd love to learn CS3217 and experience the pain again.

This holiday, I'll be working on learning basic IOS development and software pattern design. There are a few other projects need to be done, too. For personally interests, I'll be creating 1-2 pop songs.

7. What do you learn from this experience?

One of my christian friends told me that people should obey the rules made by governors as the bible says the governors are assigned to rule the people. I asked,"what if the rules are wrong" or "the rulers are doing unreasonable things"? He said "we still need to obey". I didn't agree with him and argued back"what if the rulers are doing things against God"?  He thought twice and said"he will get punished". It seems that people have less power are always venerable to protect their own rights.
I contacted the Israeli company on my own without the NOC coordinator's permission one day before she finishes all the interviews and comes back to Singapore. I emailed her about my disobedience. She found my behaviour unlawful and mistrustful.I replied:

Dear **,Thank a lot for your reminders and suggestions. It was my fault and I shall be responsible to take any bad outcomes. There will be similar situations in one's lifetime when everything doesn't seem to be hopeful and one cannot even trust his/her own faith. I confess that I trusted you all the way through, but I cannot trust anyone any more when there is no hope. It's not because I don't want to trust, but I'm not strong/faithful enough to trust. There is a tiger lying in me.Though I'm very unlikely to get this chance, I still believe that entrepreneurship is a right path for me. You may doubt about it, but you'll witness it in 20 years time.

I guess I shall not try to get the chance any more, otherwise, more of my love ones will get hurt.Lastly, thank every one who helped me and I won't make you down/disappointed.



Appendix 1: My email to MOEDear **,My name is Shaohuan. I'm a PRC scholar from NUS Computer Engineering Year 4. I'm very interested in programming and technological entrepreneurship. Recently, I received an offer from NUS Overseas College Israel for half a year's internship in a startup company in Israel. It is a great opportunity as the Israeli startup has a very creative entrepreneurial environment and the company makes great products/services. One of their focus areas is Technological Education which empowers education with the latest technologies. It is one of my top interests as a long term career. I am writing this email to ask for permission from MOE so that I can go for this program and bring the entrepreneurial spirit back to Singapore.The startup company itself operates like a small incubator with innovative projects and brilliant minds. This kind of highly innovative environment is very rare in Singapore or even in the whole world. I really would love to bring the passionate entrepreneurial spirit from Israel to Singapore. In fact, the company is planning to start a technical branch here in Singapore. I strongly would like to be part of the innovation and make great products/services for Asia and the rest of world.If I get the permission, I will be delaying my graduation for half a year. However, I will not take any extra scholarship from MOE and the sponsors. The Israeli company will be paying me the internship allowance. My faculty coordinator and professors also support my decision. However, there is a issue with the fact that I have gone through another half-a-year overseas program and the faculty coordinator said I will need to confirm with the sponsors first to grant me the permission. I'm really looking forward to your positive feedback.Thanks a lot! 

Appendix 2: Reply from MOEDear Shaohuan,Thank you for contacting us with regards to your TG bond obligations.From what you have mentioned, you do not need to apply for deferment if you have not graduated from NUS with a degree. You will only need to apply for deferment if the programme is done after you have completed your studies at NUS.

Appendix 3: Reply from Financial Aid OfficeMy apology for not replying to your email as we are still waiting for your appeal result from your sponsor. In addition, I hope to clarify with you that you have contacted the MOE Tuition Grant Unit and they are not your sponsor for your Undergraduate Scholarship for PRC Student. Please note that their reply is regard to their MOE Tuition Grant bond deferment and you are not seeking for bond deferment at this moment. Therefore, their response does not prevail your sponsor’s final decision.Meanwhile, please concentrate on your examination and we wish you all the best.

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