01 October 2018

A PhD Journey: Meaningful memories and experiences at the ASEM Education Secretariat Belgium

A PhD Journey: Meaningful memories and experiences at the ASEM Education Secretariat Belgium

On 28 August 2018, I arrived at Brussels International Airport, Belgium from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I was welcomed by Mr. David Urban at the airport and by Ms. Nadia Reynders at the Flemish Ministry of Education and Training on the same day. This is my second trip to Europe after the completion of my Master degree at The Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Scotland in 2004.

My journey at the ASEM Education Secretariat Brussels located at the Flemish Ministry of Education and Training started on 29 August 2018. On the first day, Ms. Nadia introduced me to her superior and colleagues at the Ministry. Later, on 26 September 2018, Mr. David introduced me to the French-speaking community at the Wallonia-Brussels Federation. During my secondment I’m assisting the secretariat on day to day tasks. As a first task, I was involved in the preparation and organisation of the ASEM Task Force Meeting-Stocktaking Report held on 17 and 18 September 2018 in Brussels, Belgium. The outcome of the task force meeting were integrated in a Questionnaire to collect information for the Stocktaking report. Currently, I’m assisting the Secretariat in the preparation of the First Senior Official Meeting (SOM1) of ASEMME7 in Krems, Austria. During these tasked, I was glad to share my experiences from my secondment to the ASEM Education Secretariat Jakarta from February 2015 to February 2016.

During my stay in Brussels, I continued my PhD journey with data collection at the Secretariat, Flemish Ministry of Education and Training, Directorate-General of Non-Compulsory Education and Scientific Research of Wallonia-Brussels Federation, European External Action Service and the Directorate-General for Parliamentary Research Service. Furthermore, I visited the European Commission Library to gather information on the ASEM Process. My first data collection began with a short questionnaire for the participants of the ASEM Task Force-Stocktaking Report Meeting. In addition, the major data collection will be continued during the SOM1 meeting in Krems, Austria from 15 to 17 October 2018.
Besides helping the Secretariat, I’m continuing writing my thesis including Literature Review, Research Methodology and findings of the qualitative study under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Azirah Hashim of the Asia-Europe Institute.

During my stay at Brussels, I take an opportunity to visit some attracting places in Brussels such as Grand Place, Manneken Pis, Royale Place, Brussels park, Palais de Justice, Sablon, Flemish Parliament, European Parliament and some other interesting places in Brussels. I also joined Flemish Government Sports Day on 20 September 2018 with Ms. Nadia and her colleagues from the Flemish Ministry of Education and Training. Moreover, I have also visited some cities nearest to Brussels such as London, Amsterdam and Cologne.

My stay in Brussel, especially at the ASEM Education Secretariat Brussels will end by 22 October 2018. Nevertheless, I’m enjoying Brussels’s nice environment, weather, people, working culture and of course the food. The stay also offers me wonderful memories and experiences for my work career and PhD journey. I take this opportunity to thank Ms. Nadia and Mr. David for their guidance and assistance during my secondment and for the PhD study motivation and encouragement. In addition, I also would like to thank the Public Service Department, Malaysia, and the Asia-Europe Institute of University of Malaya for granting permission for attachment and data collection at Brussels, Belgium.

M.Miandy Munusamy
Post-graduate Student
Asia-Europe Institute, University of Malaya