History in the making

Anthony Tan

Meet Anthony Chan, a student who is charting the Pacific’s fluid history through his Master of Asia Pacific Studies.

Anthony Chan’s mother is from Shanghai, and his father is from Hong Kong, so it’s no surprise that he’s enrolled in a Master of Asia Pacific Studies.

“But ironically,” he says, “I’ve chosen predominantly Pacific topics.”

Anthony says he “stumbled into” his interest in the Pacific, after reading a newspaper article about the coup in Fiji. He ended up writing his honours thesis for his Bachelor of Arts on Fijian colonial legacies.

Anthony says the history and culture of the Pacific particularly appeals to him.

“It doesn’t follow the Western views of history and culture. History is passed on orally so history changes as time progresses, and I think that’s fascinating, because you have different interpretations of historical events.”

He says the Master of Asia Pacific Studies offers a broad range of subject choices, allowing him to focus on his interest in the Pacific.

“ANU is one of the premier institutions on the Pacific. A lot of the scholars here, when you read a book on the Pacific, they’re the ones who wrote it.”

Anthony’s passion for the Pacific has even allowed him to overcome one of his childhood fears: the tongue twisting trouble presented by language-learning.

“I had a bad experience as a kid with language. My family was very working class and neither of my parents went through school, so they wanted me to take a summer school and weekend classes in Mandarin, but I was only 10 or 12 and I just hated it! From then on, I’ve had an aversion to any other foreign language. However, I am actually looking forward to taking a course in Pidgin next semester.”

Anthony is studying full-time, but looking for more work experience, having gone straight from his undergraduate degree to his master’s.

“Policy and research in the Pacific would be the ideal role, and I definitely think the Master of Asia Pacific Studies will help me get a position like that. I do want to get more experience before I think about any further studies – I think my parents would advise that as well!”

On the subject of his parents, Anthony says they’re happy he’s pursuing a postgraduate degree.

“Growing up in an Asian family, there’s always that stereotype that I’m supposed to be a doctor or something like that, but they have come to accept my interests and where I want to go. I think they’ve taken a don’t-ask-don’t-tell attitude to my studies!”

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Updated:  24 April, 2017/Responsible Officer:  Dean, ANU College of Asia & the Pacific/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team