“I’m uncomfortable with the notion of a monolithic ‘West’”

Jasdeep Singh Hundal, who comes from Singapore, will be a first-year student at the Reims campus this fall. He is pursuing the Dual BA Programme between Sciences Po and UC Berkeley, through which he will have the opportunity to spend 2 years in France and 2 years in California. The first in our 2017 #FirstYearsScPo series. Read the interview below.

Why did you decide to apply to the Sciences Po - UC Berkeley dual degree programme? 

'Je ne parle pas francais' was the only complete sentence of French I spoke when I filled in my application for the Sciences Po-Berkeley Dual Degree programme. This was the first step of getting out of my comfort zone. I have always loved adventure, whether taking a flying-fox across islands or walking about foreign towns. Jumping into an unfamiliar environment, where I speak close to none of the native language, indubitably seemed like the perfect choice for me– an unparalleled adventure.
 
The Dual Degree is this adventure, to explore in two different worlds, intertwined surely, but nevertheless distinct with their own quirks. In truth, I have always been uncomfortable with the notion of a monolithic 'West'. The different paths of the elections in both the US and France point to distinct identities. As much as I am keen on drawing links between these two nations, I am determined to uncover the nuances that distinguish them. 
 
And what better way to do this than with a bunch of enthusiastic and global classmates? Living and learning with these individuals with rich perspectives will add to what could potentially be the danger of the single story. Sciences Po’s focus on the multiplicity of views through her interdisciplinary programme and highly internationalised student body is perfect for this. 

What are you looking forward to the most?

Of particular importance to me is the joy of relating with someone through their mother tongue. Coming from multicultural Singapore, diversity is something I have grown up with, speaking and immersing in a few languages. The character of each language is a beautiful way to transcend barriers and connect with people who may otherwise be so different. 
 
The acclaimed language programme at Sciences Po is certain to equip me with the necessary skills to master French. The French are a classic case of a people who are proud of the wealth of their heritage and culture. I am looking forward to my study of French, but not without the 'ouf's and 'bouf's and their accompanying hand gestures and facial expressions. This comes hand in hand with the opportunity to engage with French-learning refugees through associations at Sciences Po, allowing me to listen to their equally significant stories. The multitude of doors that open from French only excite me. 

What do you aspire to do later on?

Ultimately, the ethos of a nation lies with the people. This is extremely relevant to my desire to pursue a career in the Singapore civil service. Sciences Po will train me to have sensitivity in understanding situations, to veer away from generalisations, while appreciating the intricate links and differences between countries. Beyond that, the opportunity to develop empathy and a curiosity about people will fuel a drive for serving the people of my homeland. The heart of service is tied to the ability to build interpersonal bonds, and to understand the lexicon and the diction of people who you strive to serve. Interacting with diverse persons through Sciences Po will undoubtedly nurture this. 
 
I cannot be more excited to swoop into Sciences Po, a flying-fox journey like no other. And I eagerly await the moment I can confidently say 'Je peux parler le francais.'

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