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Sim Yan Ling
The New Paper
Mar 25, 2017
Ever wanted to spend months in paradise, feeling the fine sand on your bare feet, with scenic views of the sea as your backdrop?
Mr Kirwin Lee, 21, got to experience that - but with a twist.
The final-year Republic Polytechnic (RP) student stayed in the Maldives for six months, during which he interned at luxury resort Gili-Lankanfushi.
This was possible with the help of the RP Industry Immersion Programme (IIP), designed to give students a first-hand experience of the work environment and let them apply the knowledge they have gained from the classroom.
Selected students have the opportunity to travel overseas, and even receive financial support from RP's Overseas Internship Fund and International Enterprise (IE) Singapore's Young Talent Programme.
Mr Lee, who is pursuing a diploma in hotel and hospitality management, took on a variety of roles at the resort, from management trainee to butler.
He got to work with colleagues and guests from over 20 different nationalities in the Maldives, teaching him to be more culturally aware, and sensitive to his surroundings and the body language of those around him.
When asked about differences between Singapore and the Maldives, Mr Lee immediately brought up the slower pace of life.
He said: "Singapore's environment is competitive, and learning is extremely fast-paced. In the Maldives, the culture is one with a slower pace."
In the Maldives, Mr Lee also had to work barefoot, which helped him connect with "Mother Earth".
This led to him adopting a more eco-friendly stance in his work.
His lecturer Mr Kunihiro Iwakiri said Mr Lee has become more polished and mature after the internship.
Though Mr Lee was sometimes unable to apply standard operating procedures taught in school due to unexpected situations, he took each challenge as a learning opportunity.
He said: "I went in with an open mind and to learn.
"Whatever happened, I learnt from it."