Yale: In Service of Singapore



25 December 2010

Fellow Yalies,

I was first motivated to start this project in reaction to the absence of our then President Henry Eng at our 2009 Annual Yield Reception.  Henry had fallen gravely ill, and it struck me that we were at risk of losing our awareness of Yale's legacy in Singapore with the passing of his generation.  

Starting this book was not without difficulty.  There were so many stories and angles to approach from.  To address this challenge, I enlisted the help of fellow Yalie Professor Kevin Tan, heritage expert and the Club's first Secretary.  If it was anyone, it would be Kevin who would be able to shed light on the Club's early history and guide us in putting the book together.  I was also fortunate to have Laurel Teo, who once worked for the Straits Times, agree to help out on the editorial work.   

It was only after a lengthy brainstorming process and together that we finally settled on five key themes - Club History, Public Service, Research & Academia, Business and Experiences, that would best describe Yale's interaction with Singapore and which form the basis under which all contributing articles and stories would be filed.  We also thought long and hard about how to name the book.  We wanted to avoid going down the path of self-glorification, and decided a good starting point would be to focus on the contributions of Yalies to the growth and development of our host country Singapore.  We soon added elements of historical perspectives and personal experiences to give the book a more well-balanced feel.  We also thought that the book should recognize the efforts of Yalies past and present and making the Club it is today.  

The book was originally intended to be in print form, and I  approached its creation with a traditional methodology.  The project team was to document interviews with selected Yalies, and subsequently put together articles and stories based on these transcripts.  We were to then hire professionals to help with photos, formatting and publishing the book.  What this meant was that a lot of work needed to be done, before Members would see a final version.  It also meant a major capital investment was required.  This proved to be a major setback for a project on a bootstrap budget and volunteers with limited resources.  We ended up taking a break in moving ahead with the project.

The project took a turning point, when I came across a set of tools that allowed rapid development of websites with  a minimal level of expertise.  This also allowed me to consider an alternate track, one earlier suggested by Devin Kimble for an online book.  Another paradigm shift was to see the online book as a "live" project that would grow and evolve with each contribution from our Members, which with a traditional book format would not be feasible. 

What you see today on this site is a culmination of nearly a year's worth of work, setbacks, reflection and perseverance.  With the book's direction and structure firmly in place, I am now confident to move ahead with the project and open it up to fellow Yalies for their contribution.  I also thank fellow Yalies for believing in me and agreeing to help out again on the project after the hiatus. 

Some of you may have received requests from our team to contribute articles and personal stories, and we very much hope that you can spare a bit of time to contribute to this recording of our legacy in Singapore.  For those who have not heard from us and who are interested to contribute, we would very much like to hear from you - just contact any of our editorial team.   

Yours sincerely,

Shawn Tan
Producer, Yale: In Service of Singapore
Vice President, Yale Club of Singapore