HISSOC interview #2 – Emmaline

In this second interview of our History major’s internship experience, we have Emmaline, a year 2 History major, to share with us her internship experience at National Heritage Board (NHB). In addition, check out her flair for photography as she shows us some of the places she had visited during her internship stint.

Where were you interning?

I was an intern for about a month from 8 December 2014 to 9 January 2015 at the National Heritage Board (NHB). I was working under the Community and Involvement Outreach Division (CIOD), which is in charge of engaging the community as a whole through exhibitions, heritage trails, and is also in charge of the first community museum in Singapore – Our Museum @ Taman Jurong (OM@TJ).

Our Museum @ Taman Jurong(OM@TJ) is the first community museum in Singapore.
Our Museum @ Taman Jurong(OM@TJ) is the first community museum in Singapore.
A section of Taman Jurong Community Museum, where children can borrow books and enjoy them
A section of Taman Jurong Community Museum, where children can borrow books and enjoy them

What made you apply for the internship?

I was interested in doing an internship especially with NHB, as I really wanted to learn more about Singapore’s rich history. Being a Singaporean and this year being our country’s fiftieth year of independence, I felt that I was not well versed in Singapore’s history and hence wanted to explore more on Singapore’s history through this opportunity. In addition, I wanted to get more working experience to see what it was like working in a statutory board, as it might be the case for me in the future when I graduate.

What were the job scopes of your internship?

I was mainly responsible for two broad projects – 1. A trail portal for SG50 (my internship partner and I were assigned to this), which showcases the various organisations’ heritage trails and their respective historical markers. 2. The research part, where I was supposed to help with fact checking, giving comments on the some of the historical content of the project and also ensuring that the information can be easily understood for the public.

The trail portal made up the bulk of our internship, as it requires us to not only do administrative work, but also to physically go down to the historical sites itself to obtain the coordinates (some having a physical heritage markers while others did not have), so that it would be easy for the public to locate these sites in the event that they were interested in going on the trails themselves. Furthermore, we had to work with Google Maps Engine to plot the various sites of the heritage trail and include a brief description of each of the sites itself.

At Kallang Basin, one of the trail marker of the Jalan Besar Heritage Trail.
At Kallang Basin, one of the trail marker of the Jalan Besar Heritage Trail.

Which part of the internship did you enjoy the most?

Personally, I enjoyed going out to locate the coordinates, as I won’t be stuck in the office the entire day. In addition and more importantly, it gave me a wider lens to view Singapore and its rich history through the various historical sites that we got to visit, some of which I never knew existed!

My most interesting experience was covering the World War II heritage trail, in which some of the sites were apparently situated at far-flung places across the island, such as at Sarimbun, where the Japanese landed in Singapore via the northwestern coastline! I found it so intriguing and fascinating that it felt that I was re-living history and watching the war unfold before my eyes by following these sites and learning about what happened at each location. Other sites like the Kranji Beach Reservoir Park and Labrador Park, which were also important WWII sites, were also places I had never been too and it was such an eye opener that these places actually had a rich history behind the beauty of it today.

In addition, what I found interesting was that apart from the museums that we are usually familiar with such as the National Museum of Singapore and the Singapore Art Museum, there is actually a community museum in Taman Jurong (TJ). It is housed in two container boxes and mainly caters to the residents living in the vicinity as it seeks to educate and showcase the rich history and heritage of their estate. Recently, a new exhibition “My School is Cool” has been put up in the community museum which presents important milestones of education in the Jurong Estate and also showcases various artifacts of the schools in the area such as Jurong Secondary School, Yuan Ching Secondary School and Shuqun Secondary School.

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset

Located in Tiong Bahru and commonly known as 'the horse-shoe block' because of its distinctively curved shape. It also had a bomb shelter that was used during WWII!
Located in Tiong Bahru and commonly known as ‘the horse-shoe block’ because of its distinctively curved shape. It also had a bomb shelter that was used during WWII!
A much treasured photo of the Sarimbun beach landing WWII heritage trail marker because we had to trek all the way in!
A much treasured photo of the Sarimbun beach landing WWII heritage trail marker because we had to trek all the way in!

Through this internship, what were your takeaway/s?

Through this internship, I learnt that heritage does not only refer to sites or places with historical significance but also includes other aspects such as natural heritage and architectural heritage; as long as it contributes to Singapore’s history and development. I became more interested in wanting to find out and uncover the other aspects of Singapore’s history, apart from those that were mentioned in textbooks and those that we learnt from young. It was an eye opener to be able to learn how to use the GPS device to take down coordinates and also to use Google Maps Engine (I honestly never knew existed!) to plot the trails and sites, enabling people to find them easily!

Macritchie Reservoir
Lower Seletar Reservoir
Lower Seletar Reservoir
Macrtichie Reservoir

Tell us more about your internship partner.

Haha! I found him quite easy to get along with and he was a friendly guy to be interning with. One point to note, he is really good with directions and maps, so our job of visiting those far-flung sites especially those in the WWII trail was made much easier with him around to guide us. I could also tell that he too was very much passionate about Singapore’s history, as he would make the effort to find out more about the place that we were going to visit. He is also very much involved in community work.

My fellow lovely NHB colleagues and my internship partner, Jing Jie (first from the left)
My fellow lovely NHB colleagues, my internship partner, (Jing Jie, first from the left) and I (first from the right)

Having gone through this internship, what do you think of Singapore’s heritage landscape?

Singapore indeed has a very rich heritage, one that consists of various ethnicities and not just the four major ones we learn about. It was and still is a cosmopolitan country. For a small country that lacks natural resources, it has really done a lot to achieve what it is today. I feel that Singapore’s rich and interesting heritage should continue to be preserved, as it is what makes Singapore unique.

I felt that NHB has indeed done a superb job in trying to preserve Singapore’s rich heritage through these historical markers that we see as well as through working with the community to develop heritage trails and exhibitions. It is heartening to see them taking the time and effort to preserve our history and heritage.

Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall
Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall

Would you recommend this internship to your friends? Why?

I would recommend this internship to those who want and would like to explore Singapore’s history and walk through the trails to learn more about Singapore’s rich heritage. I guarantee it would really be an eye opener to visit places you never knew existed! You can treat it like a little excursion out of office to explore and learn more as you go along!

Any last words?

Haha, I’m generally really thankful for the nice working environment in NHB itself, where our colleagues are very helpful and kind. If given the chance again, I would like to intern under them again. :)

For more information on the WWII trail and Our Museum @ Taman Jurong (OM@TJ) that Emmaline mentioned, visit http://www.nhb.gov.sg/NHBPortal/ and click on the ‘Places’ and ‘Museums’ tab respectively and also https://www.facebook.com/OMATTJ

If you wish to know more about her internship experience, feel free to email us at communications@nushissoc.org

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