Saturday, September 27, 2008

Intercultural Differences

For this summer vacation, I was attached to a shipyard for my internship. In this shipyard, the workers were mainly from foreign countries such as India, Bangladesh or the nearby neighboring countries such as Myanmar. The majority of these workers were from Bangladesh.

At the entrance of the shipyard, there were numerous gantries which were similar to those being using in the MRT stations. Most of us who worked in the shipyard were given electronic passes which we would have to tap in at the electronic card reader located at the gantries to go in and out of the shipyard. At the end of the working day, all of us would queue up at the gantries to tap our cards so that we could leave the shipyard.

Usually the queues at the gantries would be very long since there were a few thousand workers working in the shipyard. I noticed that they often like to stand very close to each other when they are queuing up. Additionally, when the gantries were open, they would be shoving each other to make their way out of the shipyard. All these made me felt very uneasy as I felt that they were rather rude and they were standing too close to me for my comfort.

I guess this is one of the situations where there would be conflicts between different cultures. For the Bangladeshi workers, it did not occur to them that there was such a problem since it was part of their culture. Since I was not immersed into their culture before, I had problems accommodating to their behavior. Over the duration of my internship, I slowly got used to this and was no longer bothered by it at the end of my internship.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Perception and facts regarding biofuel

Biofuel has been gaining attention in the press recently as an alternative to fossil fuels. However, when one reads the news regarding biofuels, it is likely that person will come to the conclusion that it may not be such a good thing after all. This is because news such as the increase of food prices leading to food crises in the poorer countries as a result of the production of biofuel has been dominating headlines. Thus not a lot of people may know about the many advantages it has over fossil fuels.

There are some main advantages of using biofuel. The usage of biofuel will not contribute to carbon emissions as compared to fossil fuels. As we all know, carbon emissions leads to global warming and this can bring on other problems such as increasing sea levels and rising temperatures. Thus, the usage of biofuel will help to protect our environment. Moreover, it is a renewable resource. Biofuel is derived mainly from plant corps and plant corps can be replanted seasonally while fossil fuel is a finite resource. Thus this can help to alleviate the energy problem.

With regards to the problem of biofuel contributing to higher food prices, this can be solved by using the newer generations of biofuel. The problem was caused by the first generation of biofuel which uses food corps such as corn, sugarcane and maize. Since part of the food corps were used for biofuel, there were less food corps being made available for food supply which led to an increase in food prices. The newer generations of biofuel do not use food corps to produce biofuel thus this problem can be eliminated.

Given the increasing importance of biofuel, it will be important for students to know the facts about biofuel so that they can make informed decisions in the future. So do the students know enough about biofuel and what is their perception toward it ?

Hypothesis: NUS students do not possess enough knowledge about biofuel and their perception towards it has been negative.

Problem Statement: The objective of this research study is to determine how well students in NUS know about biofuel, their perception towards it and the factors that affects their perception.

Purpose Statement: The objective of this research study is to gather the results obtained from the survey and to forward them to the Energy Market Authority and the Economic Development Board. This is done so that they can be informed of the amount of knowledge that students possess regarding biofuel and their perception towards it. Biofuel has been identified as one of the the growing industries that Singapore will be committed to investing in due to the potential and the opportunities being offered. As such, this industry will require a lot of highly-qualified personnels. Thus there will be a need to attract talented students to join the industry. If the perception of the students towards biofuel is negative due to their lack of knowledge, this industry will have difficulties in attracting students. This research study will help to identify if this problem do exist.

Reason for conducting a survey: Doing a survey will be the best method to assess the knowledge the students possess and their perception towards biofuel. This is because questions can be asked in the survey and through this, we will be able to find out the exact reasons that affect their perception.