Two students from Singapore inaugurate Asia exchange program

Yale Divinity School inaugurated its new student exchange program with institutions in Asia during the fall 2009 semester with the arrival on campus of two students from Trinity Theological College in Singapore—Pei Yi Tew and Florence Teo.

FlorenceRecalling her arrival on campus in mid-August, Teo said she initially found New Haven “kind of remote, isolated and culturally different from the kind of city life that I am used to in Singapore.”  However, the week of Before the Fall Orientation activities soon made her feel more at home.  Said Teo, “The BTFO quickly helped in easing me into the social and academic environment in the Yale community.”

Tew, who holds a degree in banking from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore, described her arrival on the YDS campus as “an eye-opening experience.”  She explained, “This is the first time I came to the States, and I (was) really impressed by the vast amount of resources available for academic research as well as for the spiritual formation of the students in the Div School.”

“I think Yale students are among some of the smartest and most creative people I have ever met,” Tew said.  “One highlight of this trip was to be able to meet many people of different nationalities; such cross-cultural exchange and interaction is of great value to me.”

Teo, too, enjoyed her interactions with people in New Haven:  “The people, friends and lecturers that I met here, in and out of Yale, were friendly, warm and hospitable. They made me feel at home. I have attended and also hosted a number of parties, gatherings, which hold great memories for me.”

During her semester at YDS, Teo enjoyed helping out with the Divinity farm, singing in the Gospel choir, and serving Holy Communion in Marquand chapel.

“I am grateful for the opportunity and honor to be here,” said Teo, who plans a future centered on ministry to the poor, oppressed, and needy.  “Truly I want to thank Yale Divinity and Trinity Theological College for making this semester here possible. I do feel connected to Yale Divinity and would love to revisit this place again.

Tew said that after graduating from Trinity Theological College she plans to continue the work she has done as a student with Campus Crusade for Christ.

She emphasized her appreciation for “the friendship and hospitality” extended to her by Yale Divinity students, faculty and staff that helped her in adjusting to the academic culture and environment at YDS.

Trinity Theological College opened its doors in 1948 under sponsorship of the Methodist, Anglican and Presbyterian churches. The college operates two significant research centers: The Centre for the Study of Christianity in Asia (CSCA), which provides a forum where Christians in Southeast Asia can collaborate in affirming their distinct Christian ethos and articulating their faith positions; and the Centre for the Development of Christian Ministry, which aims to serve the Church by providing lay training programs, seminars, conferences and research on Bible, theology and ministry.

Exchange programYale Divinity School launched the new exchange program after Dean Harold Attridge and other administrators connected with several institutions in Asia during a January 2009 visit to Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and South Korea.  Out of that trip came formalized exchange programs with Trinity Theological College and Chung Chi College, part of Chinese University in Hong Kong.  There are tentative plans to explore additional student exchanges with Beijing Foreign Studies University in Beijing.

These new exchange programs complement programs previously in place with universities in the United Kingdom (in Cambridge) and Germany (in Heidelberg, Freiburg, Tübingen).

In announcing the new ventures, Yale Divinity School Dean Harold Attridge had said, “What does it mean for theological education to engage the world? We live in communities that are increasingly multi-religious, multi-cultural, and multi-lingual. In this context it is important that global perspective be integral to preparation for ministry...As globalization evolves, patterns of communication, business and culture are being transformed; at the same time, in many parts of the world Christianity is taking on new forms and expressions. At the Divinity School we are committed to assessing what it might mean for us to more fully ‘engage the world’ in the years ahead and to developing programs to better serve and prepare students.”