1. Bukit Brown Documentation Project
In the month of April, a team of undergraduates from HISSOC collaborated with Dr. Hui Yew-Foong from the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) to conduct a fieldwork project on the Bukit Brown Chinese Cemetery. This collaboration is part of HISSOC’s subcommittee project – wholly initiated, led and executed by the subcommittee which is an expanding and important team within HISSOC.
Bukit Brown is Singapore’s last surviving traditional burial ground that houses the graves of many Singaporeans who have made a difference to this young city-state. One of the most famous graves includes that of Mr. Lee Kuan Yew’s grandfather.
The team was tasked to interview the families who have come to visit the graves of their ancestors. Through the interview, the team also observed how rituals were conducted and noted the conversations that often took place. For a number of these visitors, it was their last visit as the Government has mandated a clearing of portions of the cemetery for national development. Many of those who came commented on how Bukit Brown has changed over the years. One of them said “It used to be filled with more visitors. My family used to come here by the truckloads”. Young children were also among the visitors and participated readily in the various rituals. Far from being a ghastly place, Bukit Brown is a place for families to remember their loved ones, to gather and stay connected with one another.
2. Career Talks
1. History Career Talk in Semester 1
Think that the only career option for a history major is a history teacher? The History Society hopes to dispel this misconception, and to this end, we have organized two career talks over the past year. The alumni that we have invited have all found themselves in careers quite ‘unexpected’ of history graduates, and we hope that history majors have found their experiences and advice helpful when planning for their careers.
The first History Career Talk was conducted in Semester 1, and we invited four alumni who hail from different industries. First up was Clarabelle Chong, a freelance writer, previously a writer for several programmes on Channel 5 such as Singapore Idol and President’s Star Charity show. The next speaker was Ekaterina Dynina, who works at KPMG Corporate Finance as a Senior Associate in Global Infrastructure Projects Group. While her career is obviously unrelated to History, she pointed out that the skills she gleaned as a History major proved very useful in the business setting. The other speaker was Eisen Teo, an SPH journalist who writes for two newspapers printed by The Straits Times to cater to Primary and Secondary Schools. His articles are mostly about the history of certain geographical areas in Singapore. Lastly, to cater to those who prefer a more History related career, the talk also introduced Ms Wong Hong Suen, who shared her experiences as a Historical Research and Education Consultant at the Preservation of Monuments Board (PMB). Despite their different careers, all speakers shared a similar message for us to enjoy our remaining university years, and trust in the value of a History degree for providing the versatility to take on the job of our choice.
2. History Career Talk with Mr Tang Chi Lin
Following up on its career talk series, the NUS History Society on 26th January 2012 invited alumnus Mr. Tang Chi Lin to share his experiences with us. With a career spanning sectors as varied as investment banking, consumer electronics and information technology, Mr Tang was the ideal person to show how a History degree need not necessarily confine one to “conventional careers”.
Mr Tang felt that the main strength of a history education lies in the constant practice we get at collating vast amounts of facts and figures and presenting them in a coherent manner. He also shared how history has practical value that can be applied to real-life jobs. By examining the events of the past, we may be better equipped to deal with the challenges of the future. With such ideas in mind, Mr Tang delivered advice for us to craft our resume and cover letters so as to showcase our strengths. Finally, he reinforced in us a sense of possibility that a History degree can in fact be useful in the work place.
3. Welfare Packs Distribution
What do you associate the last few weeks of school with? Finals? For Hissoc and the History majors, the last few weeks of school also means one thing = welfare pack collections! Welfare packs are not only cure-all for finals’ gloom; they are also a commitment from Hissoc to make the academic journey for History majors sweeter and more enjoyable.
In Semester 1 and 2, Hissoc distributed a total of 200 welfare packs, filled with old-school treats like Cheese Balls and Oreos. Hissoc hoped you enjoy your welfare packs, and that the goodies made it all that much sweeter studying for finals. For those who missed the collection, fret not for there’s always next semester to look forward to! And suggestions for what you want to see in the next welfare pack are always welcome.
4. Hissoc Goes Cameron Highlands
This summer holiday, the History Society took a 3D2N trip up to the rustic Cameron Highlands; the legendary highlands resorts of Malaysia renowned for its cool weather, tea and strawberries. We took a slow and relaxed tour on the first day, visiting many places in the highlands, including the Rose Valley, Boh Tea Plantation, Raju’s Strawberry Farm and a Galleria that tracks the history of Cameron Highlands. We wrapped up the first day at the night market in the sleepy town of Brinchang where all things Cameron could be found and bought.
Day 2’s itinerary sought to break the stereotype of historians being bookworms. We took a rough and tumble 4 hour trek through the forest, scaling steep cliff faces and crossing rivers to catch a glimpse of the elusive Rafflesia flower. Continuing the adventure with a winding car ride, Hissoc ascended the highest mountain in Cameron Highlands, Gunung Brinchang. More than 2000 metres above sea level, we climbed the watch tower that graces the summit and at the same time, sits on the state border of Perak and Pahang. Who says that Historians only belong in the archives? ;)
1. Welcome Tea
The Society organised a welcome tea at the start of the semester, with the aim of reaching out to students interested in History. It also aimed to act as a platform for students with an interest in History to come together and discuss issues pertaining to History.
2. History Festival
The NUS History Society proudly presented History Festival 2011 – “Recalling Ourselves: Exploring the Relationship between Memory and Identity”, in partnership with National Museum of Singapore. The Festival aimed to explore the connections between the themes of memory and identity, and also considers film as a medium in the act of remembering. The Festival comprised of two segments, History Seminar, an annual seminar organised by our Society, and the all-new Voices of the Past, an oral history video-making competition open to all secondary schools and junior colleges.
The first segment, the History Seminar, acted as an inter-disciplinary platform for academics, researchers and filmmakers to interact with the audience on the interplay of memory and identity. There were two sessions; session 1 dealt with the theme “Recalling Ourselves: Exploring the Relationship between Memory and Identity” while session 2 was about “Remembering Ourselves: The Power of Film in Memory.” By means of personal stories, ethnographic anecdotes, and the use of film as well as research findings, the alluring process of how past recollections can create and shape the outcome of individual lives is brought into the open for discussion. Participants in this seminar were able to engage in active dialogue with the speakers and gain insights into a meaningful, interactive encounter with past and present.
The society invited a number of speakers to the event, bearing in mind the seminar’s function as an inter-disciplinary platform for discussion on the interplay of memory and identity. The speakers included:
Dr. Kevin Blackburn, Associate Professor in History, Humanities and Social Studies Education, National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
Dr. Roxana Waterson, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, National University of Singapore
Mr. Leong Kar Yen, PhD candidate, Department of Southeast Asian Studies, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, National University of Singapore
Mr. Boo Jun Feng, Filmmaker
The seminar was a roaring success. It was met with a full-house turnout, and many fruitful discussions were generated.
History Video-making Competition
The second segment was an oral history video-making competition called “Voices of the Past”. It had two categories: (1) School and (2) Open categories. The Schools category was open to all Secondary Schools, Junior Colleges, and students from tertiary institutions, including polytechnic students. The Open category then comprised of any other group made up from individuals from members of the public between the age of 25 – 85 who are not representing an educational institution.
Participants were form groups and submit a video no longer than 10 minutes with the following question in mind, “Since memory can be directly equated with identity, how does the memory, collective or otherwise of a person/place/event contribute to one’s personal identity?” With the category of Arts and Entertainment in mind, participants will have to choose between People, Places or Events (past or present) and work out a video of not more than 10 minutes from one of the three aspects. Bearing in mind the importance of oral records in History, each entry had to comprise of at least three (3) oral history records, to be included in the final video submission.
The video-making reception was met with a phenomenal response, especially from the school category. The society was deeply impressed at the quality of videos submitted.
The Winning Video from SOTA can be viewed HERE.
Overall, the History Festival was a phenomenal success, a success the society hopes to repeat in the following years.
3. History Welfare Day
History Welfare Day was organised with the aim of engaging fellow History majors as well as to update them of upcoming events. All History majors were entitled to a welfare pack, consisting of stationery and snacks. The event was met with an overwhelming response by History majors.
4. History Welfare Retreats
In addition to all these events, the society held a number of welfare retreats to Arab Street, and various museums to encourage the discussion of future activities as well as to enhance the relationships between the exco and sub-committee members.
1. National History Challenge & History Seminar
In 2010, the society organised a National History Challenge for students in junior colleges. The major theme of the challenge was “Recollection of Our Past, Responsibility for the future”. They were invited to write about one of the three topics given under the theme: recollecting a Singapore before Raffles, recollecting Singapore under colonial rule and recollecting Singapore’s struggle for nationhood. In addition to writing essays, student participants had to present their essays without electronic tools at the History Seminar. This challenge was met with an overwhelming response from teams of student participants from various junior colleges
History Seminar was held on the 4 June 2010 at The Pod, National Library Board (NLB). It was held in the format of a forum entitled “Singapore History: Who Writes the Script?” The forum aimed to revolve around the personalities, events and agendas that drove and shaped the history of Singapore.
The NUS History Society invited a whole host of individuals to grace this occasion. They included Associate Professor Yong Mun Cheong, Assistant Professor (Adjunct) Loh Kah Seng and Associate Professor Huang Jianli, who shared their insights on Singapore’s decolonisation process, crises for our emergent nation and the the socio-political landscape in 1950s Singapore.
The seminar also saw the student presentation of the entries from the National History Challenge. At the end of the seminar, the winners were announced, followed by a short prize presentation ceremony. The seminar was an overwhelming success, with a full-house turnout. It was, in all, a fruitful and memorable event.
1. Career Talk 2007
The History Society organized a career talk for the students of the department on 16 October 2007. A total of 6 speakers were invited to give a talk about the potentials and prospects of graduating as a history major. Some of them are Ms. Sophia Loke from the National Arts Council, and Mr Ho Chi Tim from the Ministry of Community, Youth and Sports.
2. Bake Sale/Recruitment Drive 2008
The History Society Recruitment Drive 2008 was held on 22 January 2008. With every successful membership signing, the Society gave out either a brownie or cookie.
3. Bazaar 2008
It was held from 20 to 22 February 2008 at the AS1 walkway.
4. History Seminar 2008 “Everyday Epics”
It was held on 23 February 2008 and followed the format of a dramatic role-play. It also included a propaganda poster design section. Participating schools were asked to pick an historical event to portray from the perspective of an everyday man who lived through the event.
5. Archaeological Project in Malacca 2008
3 representatives were sponsored by the Preservation of Monuments Board for a 3-week archaeological excavation in Malacca.
6. FASS Open House 2008
7. History Society Welcome Dinner 2008
Held on 4 September at LT 14, the evening started with Dr Aung Thwin’s speech that outlined the key aims of the society, followed by a sharing session by the History alumni.
1. History Seminar 2007 “Between Two Fires”
It was held on the 3 March 2007. It was held in the format of a dramatic role-play and aimed to look at cultural and intellectual history during the period between WWI and WWII.
2. Bazaar 2007
The bazaar held along the AS1 walkway from 21 to 23 March 2007.
3. FASS Open House 2007
4. History Symposium 2007
Held on 4 August 2007, the History Symposium was jointly organized by the History Society and NUS High School, in hope of serving as a platform for stimulating further interest in the study of history amongst secondary school students. The History Society was responsible for furnishing the symposium with three presenters: A/P Gregory Clancey, and M.A Candidates Ho Chi Tim and Chia Meng Tat Jack.
5. History Journal 2007
The History Journal was revamped into a blog format to make it more accessible.
6. National Hero Competition
The National Hero Competition was a history-themed competition open to students from tertiary institutions as well as the various Junior Colleges. Using ‘Singapore’s National Hero’ as the theme for the competition, participants were required to submit a model-design using mannequins provided by the NUS History Society, accompanied by a brief description explaining their national hero of choice.
1. Library Exhibition
Upon completion of the society’s YEP to Kolkata in June 2004, an exhibition was put up at the center library to showcase the highlights of the trip. One of the main aims of the exhibition was to raise fund from the sales the sale of postcards for the “Adopt a mother, Save a child” program by the Child in Need Institute (CINI), Kolkata.
2. Honors room
In September 2004 the History Society represented the History majors in requesting for a History Honours room. A petition was sent out to the majors to obtain their signatures of approval. The room was deemed necessary to facilitate discussions among the History majors and to enhance their social and academic interactions.
The request was kindly approved by the Department. The Honors room is at AS1/02-11.
Organized on 17 – 19 of January 2005, the Bazaar went on quite smoothly. The event was held along AS1 walkway from9am to 6pm.
4. History Seminar 2005
Held on the 26 February 2005, the seminar had an overwhelming response, with participants from nearly all the pre university institutes. Teams had to write on one of the topics, national identity, religious identity, regional identity, gender and ethnicity. There was a 10 minute presentation by each team, which was followed by a Q&A.
5. History Study Groups
Study groups were conducted for students taking HY1101E and EU1101E. These study groups were held once a week in the evenings. They allowed for better interaction with seniors and peer learning.
6. Historical Movie Screenings
The special Projects Cell held two movie screenings. The first was The Pianist and the second movie was Good Bye Lenin. Both movies received an overwhelming response from the students, generating much discussion.
7. FASS open house 2005
Held on 21 May 2005 from 9am to 6pm, this 1-day event witnessed the involvement of most societies from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS). Students were able to directly interact with our friendly lecturers from the History department. Some of the potential students signed up for the History Quiz organized by the History department.
1. History Week
Held from 15 – 24 February, History Week kicked off with a 3-day mini Bazaar on campus. A vast array of merchandise was sold and takings contributed to the funding for the Youth expedition project to Kolkata, India. There was also a collaboration with Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) where AWARE journals were sold.
The movie “Rabbit Proof Fence” was screened on the 4th day of History Week. On the 5thday, Historical Board games were introduced. Friend of History, Mr Andrew Chai, also gave a brief introduction to historical accuracies that were engineered into the mechanisms of the games, surprising participants with the revelation that so much effort and scholarship was put into designing the board games.
2. History Seminar
Held on 21 February 2004, at the Law faculty campus, the theme for the seminar was ‘History: The Use and Abuse’. It was further divided into specific spheres such as ‘Academic sphere’, ‘Political sphere’, ‘Religious sphere’ and ‘Popular Culture’. Student participants were required to submit a written paper and present on their selected sphere, with a Q&A segment for the floor.
The seminar saw students engaging in a lively and informative session to present and exchange their ideas regarding history as a subject. The organising team even set up an online forum where the participants could continue with discussion regarding any academic subjects.
3. Youth Expedition Project to Kolkata, India: Sabyacharak Sewa
A Special Project committee organised a Singapore International Foundation sponsored expedition to Kolkata, India. Through this, the society managed to reach out to a wider student population. Many of the participants, despite not majoring in history, volunteered to form the next Hissoc executive committee.
With 22 students from across all faculties and departments, the team embarked on a 3-week expedition on 7 June 2004. The project involved building a community library in the village of Bara-Bhusna in rural West Bengal, and aided other community service programmes under the aegis of the Child-In-Need Organisation, a local NGO. These included green initiatives, as well a painting and plastering a free primary school for impoverished students. After the completion of these projects, the team went on Kolkata city to participate in a street children program, which was a shocking, eye-opening, and yet deeply moving experience for everybody.
4. Activities during Matriculation Fair & History Society Open House
History Society operated a booth during NUSSU-organised Matriculation Fair, which was spiced up with banners and pictures. A commendable amount of freshmen still sourced us out and expressed their interest in becoming members.
The History Society Open House spread over 2 days in the second week of the new academic year. The laissez-faire environment allowed a more relaxed environment for interaction between freshmen and members of the society.
5. Recruitment Publication: HISTORY, a manual for the uninitiated.
A publicity booklet parodying a secret Chinese kungfu manual, they were distributed to interested parties during the Matriculation Fair and Open House. It aimed to be a light-hearted introductory guide to the discipline of history in NUS and the society.
6. History Journal 2004
This year’s history journal took on a new format and was compiled of highly-graded essays written by fellow undergraduates for their modules’ assignments. While the committee had no intention of turning the journal into a ‘ten-year series’ which stagnate and impede originality and creativity – qualities that lecturers are really looking for – it believed that such a collection of essays could serve as a guide to the good fundamentals in writing a history essay and at the same time showcase the variety and different approaches that can be taken.
7. Bi-Weekly Study Group
In the first semester, study groups were organised for students of introductory History modules. Held bi-weekly, they were informal platforms for students to bring up enquiries about their modules and pick up skills on writing essays, not to mention forming new friendships.
8. Historical Movie Screenings
2 movie screenings were organised with the aim of raising the profile of the society among the students in the Arts Faculty as well as provided the opportunity for a relaxed and informal get-together. The two movies – All Quiet on the Western Front and Rabbit Proof Fence – were chosen based on recommendations from our Society Advisors.