Yuen Ho

Major: Economics and English

Hometown: Cary, North Carolina

Study Abroad Program: UNC Semester in Southeast Asia

My semester abroad was easily my most rewarding, fun, and educational semester of my entire undergraduate career. Thanks to the generous support of the Phillips Ambassador’s Scholarship program, I was able to travel to Bangkok, Thailand and study at Mahidol University, as well as take a traveling course with a UNC professor through Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei in Spring 2011. More than classroom instruction, my semester abroad reinforced my career interest in pursuing the field of International Development, as well as gave me valuable hands-on experiences. From my semester abroad, I was able to visit much of the Southeast Asia region and surrounding countries, including Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Nepal, and Taiwan. I was able to participate in a variety of experiences, from volunteering, working on an organic farm in Nepal, teaching English, to meeting university students and faculty from around the world. I also had the opportunity to visit indigenous Acha villages in the Phongsali highlands of Laos, visit the memorial of the Killing Fields Cambodian genocide, take a ecological fieldtrip to the Thai national park of Khao Yai, get my scuba diving certification on the island of Kho Tao and so many more enriching and eye-opening experiences. Academically, professionally, and personally, my semester abroad through the Phillips Program has helped me to learn and grow in so many innumerable ways.

The Phillips Ambassador’s Scholarship program not only provided most of my funding for my semester abroad, but also an enriching academic background for my experiences. By giving me a platform to synthesize my experiences, connect with other Phillips Ambassador’s scholars, and give back to the Chapel Hill community when I returned, the Phillip’s program has added depth to my overall abroad experience. It has also given me the opportunity to learn about and experience a whole new region of the world. From my Phillips’ experience, I have developed strong relationships to professors from UNC and Mahidol University that I maintain, and that have become instrumental in helping me pursue my senior honors thesis paper in the Economics department. The experiences I had in Thailand and the rest of Asia have helped me develop my research and academic interests, with a special emphasis for Asia, which will carry me through the rest of my undergraduate career and post-graduate pursuits. By experiencing so many different cultures, countries, and development stages abroad, I have gained more first-hand experience in the field of international development as well as a renewed passion to pursue the field after I graduate. I also had the opportunity to learn some of the Thai language as well as improve my Chinese Mandarin skills while visiting Taiwan that also enriched my academic experiences. Overall, from classroom instruction, extracurricular activities, personal travel, and volunteer experiences, I was able to learn so much about the Southeast Asia region that continues to impact my personal and academic pursuits

Finally, my Phillip’s semester abroad helped me personally develop enormously, allowing me to meet new people and to test myself in new, exciting, and challenging experiences. By traveling, and learning to navigate whole new cultures, languages, and countries, I have really grown in my own abilities and independence. I also met my boyfriend while studying abroad, and we have remained happily together for about a year now, another reason I am thankful to the Phillips program! Overall, my semester abroad in Southeast Asia would not have been possible without the Phillips Ambassador’s Scholars Program, and the program continues to enrich my life with its classroom instruction, giveback opportunities, and its community of great staff and alumni. I absolutely loved my experiences with study abroad and the Phillips program, they have enriched my own personal development, as well as given me valuable academic and professional experiences. The Phillips Ambassador’s program had a great impact on my undergraduate experience and I hope that new students will continue to enjoy this wonderful program.