Divya’s Week 1

I finally figured out how this works so here it is, a few weeks late:

This week has been more successful than I anticipated. I figured out how to use the LRT (metro) and bus system to get myself to the university and out to explore a little. My first day of work was intimidating and slightly awkward, as expected. We’re all still trying form deeper relationships, but I can see myself really bonding with my coworkers at the end of this. Thus far, my role has been interviewing really cool students/faculty for the rector’s office. I absolutely love this because more than anything I enjoy talking to people and interviewing people with diverse stories is inspirational. I interviewed two out of five female professors in the Islamic finance department on their recent award of being part of the top 300 Islamic women in finance. Firstly, I had no idea that Malaysia, specifically the International Islamic University of Malaysia, pioneered the regulation and educational discourse of Islamic finance. One of the women said she helped write the curriculum for the first batch of students at IIUM to start their degree in Islamic finance and, at the time, their program was the first to offer a degree in Islamic finance. Secondly, I was confused on how the Islamic financial system could exist in a world highly dependent on the conventional financial system, or why the implementation of the Islamic financial system by various countries/banks was, in fact, a worthwhile step. One of my largest takeaways was the idea that the Islamic system was rooted in financial justice and social betterment. Through a variety of screening criteria employed by Islamic investment firms, it is proven that there is a lower risk factor when investing using the Islamic system instead of the conventional one. Moreover, there are global and local social benefits of implementing an Islamic financial system. The way these two professors were speaking about finding ways to help local Islamic female entrepreneurs and elderly people navigate financial planning showed me a side to business, a more compassionate vision, that I had never even considered before. Finally, the two professors were absolutely thrilled to have me. They made me feel special and didn’t look down on me for asking questions far too basic for their academic level. In just a short two hours I felt like we made a deep connection, and in true Malaysian style, one of them even asked me to come to her house to celebrate Eid.  I love being in Asia because people here don’t over think social interactions. If you’re receptive to someone they will do the same for you. Often times in the states I find myself replaying scenarios of conversations in my head before responding to someone. Here, however, I try my hardest to be kind and usually the outcome, although unintended, ends up working out for everyone. Lastly, I would just like to end with a simple summary of how my experience has been so far: so much good food.