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Luce Aboard March 13, 2012

Posted by Nazneen Uddin in Graduate, Luce, Malaysia.
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Nazneen Uddin

Nazneen Uddin

I opened my inbox after scrubbing out of a surgical case. I browsed through the list of unread emails, and happened to open up one from the U-M International Institute for a fellowship called Luce.  The words ‘Asia,’ ‘language training,’ and ‘internship’ immediately caught my attention, enough for me to return back to the email later that evening and read the fine print.  I learned that Henry Luce was the late founder of Time magazine and was born in China where he spent many years of his early life.  This fellowship was created in his honor to provide young Americans with the framework to learn more about Asian society.

I never imagined taking a year off in the midst of my final year of medical school, yet alone spending it internationally. I had already taken a year off after graduating from the University of Michigan Dearborn with a B.A in history in 2007 living in the Middle East where I studied Arabic in Jordan and Egypt prior to joining medical school at the University of Michigan. I returned to Egypt in 2009 for a summer research on breast cancer during medical school, which proved to be a very rewarding experience to apply the language in the field.  Therefore, learning about a different region of the world at the same time as gaining work experience was tempting.

I left the selection of which country in Asia I would spend my year to the Luce committee.  Over the last seven months, I have been in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia where I have had the opportunity to learn more about the health care system in various settings—state prisons, nursing homes, government hospitals, and mobile clinics.  Most of my time is now spent working at an NGO which has a clinic for refugees.  Outside of work, I am busy with Malay language classes, calligraphy lessons, attending health conferences, teaching English at an orphanage, and volunteering at a soup kitchen.

What makes the Luce fellowship unique is one can apply from any field and be anywhere in Asia, but each person’s focus is the same: immersing into the local culture via language training and a work placement at a locally based organization.  This year’s Luce scholar class comprises 17 individuals from an array of fields ranging from microfinance to ecology to law. Scholars are situated throughout Asia, from Mongolia to India.  Beyond getting to know Malaysia better, getting to know about each one of the scholars and their experiences in their respective country in Asia has been one of the greatest gifts of the program.

I am grateful to everyone at the University of Michigan, especially the International Institute for hosting the first of three rounds of interviews and providing support throughout the selection process.  I hope to return from my Luce year not only improving my physical examination skills but my sensitivity and understanding of the moral and personal beliefs of my patients.

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