Hometown: Raleigh, North Carolina
Study Aborad Program: National University of Singapore Science Summer Lab Exchange
I arrived in Singapore under the impression that I was a “big deal”—I had been awarded a prestigious research internship at the Duke-NUS Medical School and received extensive funding from the Phillips Ambassadors Program. I was accustomed to living a prosperous, comfortable life and expected my summer experience to follow this trend. However, my life took a very new path; I learned that there is much more to life than a self-centered existence. I was far from my comfort zone, both literally and figuratively. A mis-booked plane ticket and setbacks in lab were costly to my wallet and confidence. As an avid marathoner, my training suffered—the humidity was intense and the trails few, many of my runs followed the shoulder of an expressway. Back in North Carolina, my grandfather was hospitalized. Uplifting my mom from 10,000 miles away was nearly impossible. The AC unit was removed from my dorm, creating sleepless nights and impairing my performance in lab.
My summer changed drastically when Mr. Fu, a dean at NUS, heard of my situation and invited me to stay in his home. Without knowing my last name or home country, they opened their doors to me free of cost. The compassion the Fu’s showed me was extraordinary, and my summer was transformed under their selfless counsel. With their encouragement, the nine-hour stretches I spent struggling at my lab bench became gradually more enjoyable (I also quickly refocused my pre-med goals towards primary care instead of research). I was curious regarding their caring and trusting attitude towards a complete stranger. To explain, they invited me to their church, which I agreed to reluctantly. I had attended church as a child due to family tradition as opposed to conviction; I thought I had escaped the dull Sunday mornings when college began. My experience at Bethesda Church in Singapore was incomparable to services in NC. Religion was not just a Sunday affair wrapped tightly in the members’ culture—they were passionately in love with God and it penetrated every area of their lives. I immediately understood the reasoning behind the Fu’s care and outreach.
I expected my experience in Singapore to bring changes. Maybe I’d publish a paper, or develop a passion for traveling. However, as I reflect on the three months I spent abroad, it is clear I’ve transformed in a much greater way. The leap from atheism to Christianity is not small, and changes are still underway as I work daily to build my relationship with God. This new purpose has touched all areas of my life. Most importantly, my motivation to pursue medicine has changed. Previously, I desired power, recognition, and wealth. I now shy away from these aspects, as they are distractions from living a God-centered life. “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God”—Matthew 19:24. I am now driven by an aspiration of ministering and serving others. I plan to work abroad, where I can show God’s love to people through healthcare who don’t know Him as opposed to those who have rejected Him. Knowing there are individuals who have not heard the good news is disheartening now that I am aware of His power and love, and I will work to correct this. It is with this new purpose, which I discovered in Singapore, that I strive to show God’s love to others so that they might seek and find Him.