(From left) Kenix Tan, Shalyn Lim, Dr Natalia Grincheva, Josephine Choi Hio Ian and Jordan Tham and the conference at City University Macau
In March 2023, LASALLE College of the Arts students Jordan Tham Jun Hui, Kenix Tan Hui Min, Lim Li-Juan Shalyn and Josephine Choi Hio Ian travelled to Macau on an academic study trip, joined by BA(Hons) Arts Management Programme Leader, Dr Natalia Grincheva.
BA(Hon) Arts Management students Jordan, Kenix and Shalyn had the prestigious opportunity to present their dissertation research at the 28th International Conference of the International Association for Intercultural Communication Studies (ICIAICS) held at City University of Macau. Meanwhile, MA Arts and Cultural Leadership student Josephine joined the trip to deepen her own research, collect data and conduct interviews for her dissertation on systems of governance in cultural regeneration of Macau.
At ICIAICS, the team presented two sessions to over 140 scholars from more than 10 countries and regions. Dr Natalia Grincheva gave a presentation on digital ‘contact zones’ of museum diplomacy together with Shalyn, while Jordan and Kenix presented on emerging technologies in heritage and their impacts.
The process was both exhilarating and nerve-wracking for the students – on one hand this was an exceptional opportunity for the undergraduate students to interact with an international community of scholars, academics and professionals. “I could network with like-minded and passionate individuals in their fields, as well as engage in scholarly discussion on a global scale,” said Kenix. “I very much loved having such an opportunity to listen to other scholars speak about their research.”
Yet at the same time, the students were challenged to articulate, refine and strengthen their own research methods through feedback and critique. As Shalyn reflected, “Given the makeup of the researchers and scholars in attendance, I learnt the importance of articulating my research in a way that is accessible to diverse audiences.”
The students’ presentations received very positive feedback from the academics in attendance. The team were highly praised for their creative forms of presentation, insightful content and fresh approaches to intercultural communication from the perspective of arts and heritage – an area currently underrepresented amongst the featured research projects and a testimony to the richness of academic scholarship and output from the BA(Hons) Arts Management programme.
The city of Macau was a poignant backdrop for such intercultural exchanges with Portuguese-style architecture housing creative spaces that showcase and preserve Chinese arts and culture. The group was able to tap on the subject expertise, local knowledge and professional connections of Macau native Josephine, as she led an insightful cultural tour around the city that included visits to several museums, UNESCO heritage sites and cultural urban regeneration districts. Through the personalised tour, the Arts Management students were able to see firsthand how Macau’s blended culture and heritage have been shaped by centuries of trade and colonisation.
“I find it amazing how Macau locals have embraced the blend of East and West and rejuvenated these spaces with a hybrid identity of their own,” said Jordan. “Seeing that so many residents can speak fluent English and Mandarin has inspired me to continue learning my own language that I lost touch with a long while ago.”
The tour was complemented by meetings with local artists and curators with guided visits to two flagship urban regeneration artistic districts – Taipa Village and St Lazarus Art District. At the latter, the group met with Fong Wai Peng, director of Fantasia 10, who shared more about the creative exhibition space’s mission to promote and support the local creative industries by providing a platform for artists, designers, and other creative professionals to showcase their work and connect with the public.
Wai Peng led the group on a walk around the gallery spaces, corroborating Josephine’s key research findings that Macau possesses a strong system of artistic networks that thrives on personal connections and creative synergies. During the tour, the students also had the chance to meet local artists who had their works on display. Hearing these artists share stories about their creative journeys, the students were impressed by the robustness of the invisible cultural networks in both districts.
Reflecting on their main takeaways from this Macau study trip, all three BA students were struck by how the nuances of intercultural communications, such as sentence structure and choice of words in translations, could determine the content of one’s message.
“As multicultural Singapore’s museums constantly translate the stories of artefacts from different cultures into English and other languages, intercultural nuances should be preserved to avoid misrepresentation and insensitivity,” Jordan shared. Shalyn added, “The highlight of the conference for me was being able to exchange knowledge, build connections, and contribute to the collective understanding of intercultural communications amongst a global community of scholars.”