(taken from The AlumNUS Oct-Dec 2010 Issue No. 83)
Harris (bottom in blue jacket) with his teammates in Hong Kong participating in the Model United Nations Conference where he won the best position paper award.
Dean’s Lister, Harris Chai, couldn’t recall one “long, dreary hour” while he was a student in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at NUS. He said: “Studying was never a chore because I found joy and fulfillment in what I have a passion for – Political Science.”
It was a passion he went on to develop through being President of the Political Science Society in NUS and head delegate for the Singapore delegation to the 2009 Model United Nations Conference in Hong Kong (winning the Best Position Paper Award along the way). He also had a couple of internships in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Home Affairs where he received the Most Outstanding Intern Award.
But Harris said that even though he was delighted to win the awards, what mattered was the opportunities he had, to develop the soft skills of leadership like honesty and proactive communication, meet fellow students from around the world, debate pertinent issues facing the world today and appreciate the different ways various government bodies work.
Harris said: “Meeting foreign delegates, interviewing public servants and participating in field trips were all part of a ‘typical’ day at work. Winning the Most Outstanding Intern Award at the end was only like icing on the cake.” He added, “What made the experience so worthwhile was the close friendships made and the days of travelling, eating and of course, shopping! Going to Hong Kong was a maiden trip for everyone. The task of planning an itinerary full of fun and entertainment was particularly enjoyable. I’m glad that all of us brought home lovely memories of the trip.”
It is not surprising that the first class honours graduate is now working in the Ministry of Foreign Affiars as a Foreign Affairs Officer in the ASEAN Directorate. He is also part of the Public Service Division’s Management Associates Programme.
Just before graduating in 2010, Harris took on one more role as a Commencement Class Champion for Annual Giving. This is an initiatve to raise awareness and build support for NUS students who face financial difficulties in completing their studies.
He explained: “I’ve benefitted so much from NUS that it is with utmost pleasure that I can contribute in some way as a ‘Commencement Class Champion’. I’ve strongly believed that every student in the University is special and talented. Each individual should be given an opportunity to realise his or her potential in order to shine.
“With some help from the Commencement Class, I hope that these students will not be discouraged or hampered by their difficulties. Instead, they would be able to focus wholeheartedly in their endeavours and do the University and their loves ones proud.”