Born to a Hakka-Indonesian mother and a Cantonese-Malaysian father, Darren grew up in Singapore, speaking a mixture of English, Bahasa, and Cantonese at home. After attending high school in New Jersey, Darren returned to Singapore to complete his National Service requirement with the Singapore Civil Defence Force before coming to Gallatin. While back home, he spent time caring for his elderly grandparents, a formative experience that shaped his future career ambitions.
Two of his favorite classes, “Introduction to Metalsmithing” and “Glass” allowed Darren to develop and expand his artistic craft. During his time at Gallatin, he has taken traditional liberal arts courses as well as business courses at Udayana University in Bali and, through a Columbia University partnership, an Indonesian language course. Darren cites the contribution of the course, “Medical Anthropology,” taught by Rayna Rapp, as another formative course.
After Gallatin, Darren hopes to continue innovating, using his Southeast Asian roots and his Indonesian parentage as inspiration to inject new forms and ideas into traditional mediums. Beyond art and jewelry making, Darren hopes to design high-quality homes for the elderly in Singapore and throughout Asia. At a time when many Asian nations are reaching the late stages of demographic transition, Darren hopes to create another option, one which is sensitive to traditional beliefs and which allows more elderly people dignity and fullfilment in their final stages of life.
The unparalleled freedom of the Gallatin curriculum—which not only allows students to create their own major but also to take courses in a variety of formats and subject areas—appealed to me. —Darren Wong-Sjarif