I Graduated With A Master’s Degree From Cambridge. But I Chose To Stay In M’sia To Contribute To My Homeland 

Talent stays too.

Brain drain has been a significant issue in Malaysia, where scores of talented individuals have left the country in search of better salaries, political stability, and social opportunities abroad.

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This problem continues to impact the nation’s economic and social development by reducing human capital and innovation, making it harder to build a robust middle class.

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While foreign countries offer lucrative and varied opportunities that attract talent away, there are still those who choose to stay in Malaysia and contribute to their homeland. 

One of them is Yin Jue, a Cambridge University graduate who decided to return home after completing her Master’s degree.

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Yin jue graduated from cambridge
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Entering the Linguistics realm

Yin Jue studied at a Chinese independent high school in Kuala Lumpur. After completing her SPM, she got a scholarship to study A-levels and later successfully received an offer for UCL’s Linguistics course.

Like many Malaysians, Yin Jue wasn’t entirely clear on what the Linguistics course entailed.

I chose this course somewhat by fate. Partly because of Malaysia’s multilingual landscape, I didn’t think much about what industry I could enter afterwards—perhaps a translator or something related to natural language processing.

Yin jue studying in uk
Photo provided to WeirdKaya

“Later, I found out that this major wasn’t about learning one or more languages but understanding the theory behind them. It’s like how music students often don’t just learn an instrument but study music theory.”

Entering the world of Linguistics allowed Yin Jue to explore many language datasets and research how the human brain learns and analyses different languages, revealing a connection with psychology that fascinated her.

Studying linguistics at UCL changed my worldview, making me more open-minded. I remember on the first day of class, our professor told us that no language is inferior or superior, and there is no right or wrong grammar. Instead, we focus on why such language systems exist.”

Studying at Cambridge

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree, Yin Jue, like her peers, began applying for a Master’s program.

She eventually settled for Cambridge’s multilingualism course largely thanks to her continued interest in exploring the relationship between language and human society.

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Yin jue's thesis research in cambridge
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Malaysia’s cultural and historical background gave me a deep interest in multilingualism. So my master’s thesis researched the relationship between language diversity and cognitive function.

“The results showed that higher sociolinguistic diversity indeed affects memory, attention, and cognitive flexibility, though many other factors are involved.”

Cambridge university by yin jue
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Beyond academic research, Cambridge University provided Yin Jue with a stimulating environment and excellent faculty. The surrounding intellectual atmosphere, activities, and resources broadened her horizons and had a subtle but positive influence.

It was never about the cert, but rather how the university shapes you.”

Cambridge uni library
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Reverse culture shock

Studying in the UK also exposed Yin Jue to various people and experiences, enabling her to approach everything with an open heart.

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London is a very international city. Living there, you encounter all kinds of people. Most importantly, everyone is focused on their own path and no one has the time or energy to constrain or judge you.”

Uk people doing their own stuff
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As a result, Yin Jue experienced a dose of reverse culture shock upon returning to Malaysia.

For example, people in the UK pay a lot more attention to personal development but here, most people just follow similar paths, with core values seeming to focus solely on how much money one can earn.”

Leveraging Malaysia’s multicultural background, Yin Jue sees vast opportunities to foster innovation, inclusivity, and personal growth. 

Returning home to make a difference

For people like Yin Jue, most would advise her not to return to Malaysia given the fact that she was flourishing in the UK. However, it wasn’t as rosy as it seemed on the surface.

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According to Yin Jue, the immense study and research pressure, coupled with years of homesickness, led to her getting burnt out and taking a gap year from research in late 2021 to rest and spend time with family and friends back in Malaysia.

I treated it as a break before applying for a PhD. Right before resuming in September 2022, my university mate Aster reached out to me about working on an education startup to upskill people.”

Aster, a neuroscience graduate and university mate from UCL, had a passion for helping people. Noticing the boom of digitalisation during the COVID-19 pandemic, Aster decided to start an initiative to develop digital talents.

“I did not take long to agree to the plan because coming back to Malaysia and contributing here has always been in my career plan, just a matter of when.”

Yin jue and aster
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The education startup began by focusing on digital skills, but the team later realised the pressing need for human skills as well. This led them to conduct research on the higher abilities of the human mind and develop learning solutions related to human competency.

Our education system has never taught us about human skills. Everything was too knowledge-based.

Yin jue exploring new models
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“We explored many modern workforce issues, with many people feeling lost about their life and career. Our goal was to provide solutions and develop human potential,” explained Yin Jue.

Throughout the process of producing a white paper, they learned a lot about how to develop the human mind and heart.  They saw the importance and impact of inspiring more people to work on developing their unique selves and cultivating self-awareness. 

Yin jue sharing
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After some trial and error, their social enterprise ‘Otti’ was born. “Otti,” combining the words “Otak” (mind) and “Hati” (heart), aims to ignite human potential in Malaysia, addressing the government’s concerns about the lack of high-potential talent and skills mismatch.

Despite initial struggles to fit B2B clients’ needs and find product-market fit, they persevered to find ways to create impact- to ignite human potential and help individuals find their unique paths.

Otti joining fair
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We wish to create a community of resourceful people, and provide them with knowledge, skillsets and tools we designed with research to face the challenges in the modern era.” 

Their public workshop, “Human Agility for AI Mastery” went through many changes, focusing not just on teaching AI usage but also on cultivating an agile mindset and developing adaptive thinking abilities to create human-AI synergy.

Human agility for ai mastery
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Through this journey, Yin Jue understood her skills and strengths better, feeling the impact on the ground and herself.

‘Leave no regrets’

When asked if she regretted staying in Malaysia, Yin Jue’s answer was a firm no.

I always keep myself away from regretting. While studying in the UK and missing home, I sometimes wondered why I didn’t just take the JPA scholarship and study in Malaysia. But in reality, no matter what choice you make, you will have regrets.

Yin jue cold in uk
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“So making choices is crucial. You have to map out various possibilities, weigh the pros and cons, predict outcomes, and understand what is most important to you. Know your priorities and values.”

And this is exactly what Yin Jue and her team are trying to help others discover. 

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