PhD student receives travel award to attend Summer Workshop by Lieden Asia Centre (LAC)

Beh May TingPhD student, Beh May Ting, from the School of Arts and Social Sciences, shares her experiences and opportunities upon receiving travel award to attend the Summer Workshop by Lieden Asia Centre (LAC), the Shared Taste Project at Leiden University, and the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS) titled Asian Food: History, Anthropology, Sociology which took place in Leiden University.

The Summer Workshop is a program where postgraduate students from universities all over the world working on food related topics in the Social Sciences and Humanities gather to learn from each other at the International Institute for Asian Studies at Leiden University in The Netherlands. This was an exceptional experience as I had the opportunity to learn in the oldest university in The Netherlands built in 1575. The highly competitive program accepted only seventeen participants out of seventy applicants. Coincidentally, the two Malaysians who were selected were myself and my friend, Helen Sneha Jambunathan, a former student from the School of Arts and Social Sciences, Monash University Malaysia. Helen has recently graduated from her MPhil in Social Anthropology from the University of Cambridge.

We were given the opportunity to learn from distinguished Food Studies scholars in both formal and informal capacities and participated in activities like film screenings, museum visits, and day trips to several local markets. There was even a soy sauce tasting workshop by a Dutch expert in Japanese soy sauces. As a participant of the program, I was also given access to the university’s archives where I could look up documents dating back to the 17th century. Participants were paired up during the market visits to Rotterdam in order to observe and experience the local market life. My partner, a Slovenian student and I gave a presentation of our findings on the last day of the program together with the rest of the participants. Besides these activities, we attended lectures and participated in intense discussions on various topics related to Food Studies.

At the end of the program, we were all treated to a canal cruise where we had lots of fun enjoying the canal scenery in the cold! With the program being a Food Studies-centered workshop, we delighted in the best culinary experiences of Leiden. Overall, this was an eye opening trip for me as it was my first time in Europe. This summer workshop was funded by the International Institute of Asian Studies, Leiden University.

Beh May Ting (Lieden)