Friendship, understanding and good fellowship between the people of Australia and Asia

David's Journey through AAA

The Australian-Asian Association is a great way of bridging cultures, and for me, particularly through the study of Asian languages. I first learned about the Association in mid 2005 after I returned to Melbourne from a year of studying in Taiwan - I had been there to strengthen my Mandarin with the help of a scholarship from the Taiwanese Ministry of Education. I'd previously also studied Japanese and Korean, as well as some European languages, and I was pleasantly surprised to learn that a lot of my connections from Monash University were also involved in AAA.


As soon as I was back in Australia, I had ambitions of returning to Asia for work. Early on, while running my own web development company, I established some business in Hong Kong, but that aspect never really took off.


Fast-forward to mid 2016, I was working for an American multi-national software company in Melbourne, and the opportunity came up for a transfer to Singapore. The role covered all of Asia, and it would enable me to put my language skills to use, especially Mandarin.


I took up the offer, and by late 2016 I was based in Singapore, travelling to cities like Hong Kong, Taipei, Shanghai, Bangkok and Mumbai on a regular basis. Beating my own estimation, I was handling business meetings and presenting on stage at conferences in Mandarin (after a bit of brushing up!). Within my company, I've been able to progress from being an individual contributor to leading technical teams that span multiple countries and multiple products - something that may have been more challenging if I'd stayed in Melbourne.


Singapore has presented a great opportunity to meet people from all sorts of cultures, while still being in a more-or-less Western business context. Once I got here, I also took up the chance to study more languages, including Cantonese, since I was travelling to Hong Kong every couple of weeks and found the language interesting (and challenging when contrasting with Mandarin).


Like everyone else, I had to put a lot of these things on pause once COVID-19 hit Singapore. Similar to Australia, Singapore has been relatively successful in keeping cases and deaths low, and it's also having a tough time finding a path to open up. Even while stationary here, I've been taking the opportunity to maintain connections across the region, and to keep up my language skills.


I certainly wouldn't be where I am if it weren't for taking language learning seriously, and it's great to see that AAA is still encouraging this passion in students in Australia.

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