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Indebted to Arizona

Aaron's article "<a href="http://aaron-ng.info/blog/small-wonder-why-nus-alumni-not-donating-back-to-alma-mater.html">Small wonder why NUS alumni not donating back to alma mater</a>" on the reasons why alumni giving is almost non-existent at <abbr title="National University of Singapore">NUS</abbr> seems to have triggered quite the <a href="http://tomorrow.sg/archives/2006/11/07/pot_calling_the_kettle_black.html">online discussion</a>.
I do not pretend to know the answers as I was never an NUS student. But I do know why I feel so strongly for my alma mater, <a href="http://www.arizona.edu/">The University of Arizona</a>.
I could tell you of the amazing school spirit at basketball games or the colourful homecoming parades, but get this – they made me feel I belonged, and <strong>wanted</strong> to belong, even before I stepped foot on the campus or learned about their many traditions.
When I applied for the U of A, they offered to pay a large part of my tuition expenses. I had not applied for any scholarship and was actually all ready to have my parents foot the full bill. I had done relatively well during my polytechnic days, but an unsolicited offer was totally unexpected.
Being the skeptical Singaporean I was, I asked if there was a bond of any kind attached. I asked if I had to stay in the United States or work in Arizona for a period of time to repay their investment. Their answer? We want to give you this money because we believe you can go on to make a difference in the world.
I will never forget the kindness shown to me nor the mandate to make a difference. Their generosity has had a profound impact on my life and I find myself inexplicably tied to my fellow Wildcats, to the city of Tucson, to the state of Arizona and to America herself.
I may not agree with everything that has since transpired, but I can never deny the fact that a large part of who I am and who I want to be is tied to that single email which led to three and a half years of being nurtured under a stranger's wing.

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