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Indian girl's first Chinese year

My name is Akshaya Maddula (Aki), a final year baccalaureate student at SUTD (Singapore University of Technology and Design) majoring in Engineering Product Development with a minor in Robotics and I am an international student hailing from India. 


One of the most exciting things about living overseas is getting to know and experience the rich customs and traditions a place has to offer which helps us develop a global perspective. I had the opportunity to interact with students from different cultures and ethnic backgrounds. I am extremely grateful to Dr. David Ong, Founder and Chairman of SMC for inviting me to celebrate the Chinese New Year lunch along with family and other students. I always have a sweet spot for experiencing the different vivid cultures the world has to offer. But never got a chance to experience the Chinese festivals especially an auspicious day such as Chinese New Year. This was a memorable and insightful opportunity to celebrate Chinese New Year with Dr. David and other adept individuals.


There were students and entrepreneurs from France, Switzerland, Germany, India, and China. We had a deep and resourceful conversation about life with Dr. David and his family while we were served with the most mouth-watering and succulent Chinese food which I cannot describe its great aroma and taste with words. We started the conversation off with silly talks by talking about durian and progressively discussed the human future, quality of universities, credibility politics, and welfare systems in our countries. Dr. David emphasized the importance of being “Global Ready” because of the wide range of opportunities it opens us to. Dr. David discussed his failures, achievements, and his key takeaways from both. He explained the importance of failure as it always takes us a step closer to success.

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A successful businessman was once asked by a reporter - “What makes you so successful?” The businessman replied two words, "Right decisions.” Intrigued reported further asked him,” How do you make these right decisions? "The businessman was concise and replied one word - “Experience.” The reporter wanted more details and further asked him - “How do you get this experience?” He calmly replied two words, “Wrong decisions.” This explains to us the significance wrong decisions and failures have on life and it further should act as a motivating factor to fight against all the hurdles. We must learn from the experience and use them as an example to overcome the mistake again till we reach the state of nirvana. This is key to success.

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We also had an interesting conversation about cultural integrity that helps interpret the perspective of people with different mindsets co-exist in society and the underlying parameters that are often not highly disregarded in the mainstream media. I was inspired by the example Dr. David shared about the perception of society on a half-filled cup, where some might view it from a narcissistic point of view and some optimists will be thankful for the contents in the cup no matter the proportions.


Mrs. Zoe, Dr. David's wife, gave us an example of a Japanese entrepreneur who created a new market for his business. This is a notable example that teaches us about being able to create opportunities rather than just looking for opportunities. One important skill that would help is thinking out of the box with an unorthodox entrepreneur mindset leading to disruptive business models which are redefining the world we live and experience.

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