Asia Internship Program – China
Having never taken an Asian Studies class and not having spoken a word of Mandarin since high school, to say I was nervous before my departure for the Asia Internship Program would have been an understatement. I was an economics major whose only experience with Asia had been a brief guided tour of Thailand. I am glad that I cast my doubts aside and embraced this once in a lifetime opportunity.
Spending the summer in China was an experience that cannot be replicated. Having such a long stay allowed for full immersion into Chinese society. The hustle and bustle of the internship in the city captured the modernity of Shanghai and kept my working days filled from sunrise until sunset and beyond. On weekends I traveled as much as possible outside the city. This allowed for experiences in a more classically themed and cultured China, such as the gardens at Suzhou and natural locales like Huangshan. The low cost of hostels coupled with China’s well-developed train network made these trips easy even with the time constraints of a two-day weekend.
My internship was in the publications department of the American Chamber of Commerce Shanghai. I researched, conducted, and transcribed interviews with people in the Shanghai business and academic community and updated the Chamber’s records to improve their annual survey results. The interviews I conducted were the best learning experiences of the summer. They allowed me access to expatriates living and working in Shanghai who had grown up in the Americas. This allowed for a look into the benefits and sacrifices they have experienced in career trajectories I have considered for myself.
I highly recommend this program to any student who is willing to step out of their comfort zone regardless of course of study at CU. Since returning to the United States, the resume line mentioning my experiences in Shanghai has jumped to the forefront of recruiters’ lines of questioning. I hope to leverage these experiences to acquire a position with travel responsibilities or a posting abroad. In addition to the professional boon it has provided I am far more confident in my own abilities. This program excelled in promoting personal development and responsibility that very few college experiences can replicate.
Alex Hebner, an Economics major with an international concentration and minors in Political Science and Business, graduated in fall 2019. He participated in the inaugural year of AIP – China.
Tang Global Seminar
In the summer of 2019, I was graced with the opportunity to travel to Xi’an and Beijing with a fully-funded scholarship from the Tang family. This study abroad opportunity would be the first time I ever left the country, and this led me to feel both apprehensive and excited. I am entirely thankful for the guidance offered by the program instructor, Anja Lange, as well as all of the student volunteers and assistants from Jiao Tong University. With all of these mentors, I was able to have hands-on experience in a culture much different than the American one.
The goal of the program was to be able to identify self and Other as well as depict what actually made a city. I came to Xi’an and Beijing identifying as an American, but I was surprised to find that no one I happened to meet really thought I was an American. I am of Asian descent, so I know my looks let me blend into the populace, but my ideals differed from my Chinese counterparts. It was very interesting to talk with my Chinese peers and discuss topics such as the different dress that the two countries had. My American classmates and I were very comfortable with wearing clothing that showed skin, and I remember one of our Chinese counterparts commenting that she wished she could wear clothes in the same way. I was also very interested in experiencing a culture under a different government from my own. I felt that growing up, I was taught to fear the type of government that the Chinese were under and that Communism was just not ideal in general. However, the dismal description I was taught about Communism was very absent in how it actually was when I visited. The people and the aura felt very familiar and not at all as bad as I was taught. I believe this was a huge eye-opening moment for me and really taught me the value in taking the time to visit other countries and learn their cultures first-hand.
Nagisa Her, a Chemical and Biological Engineering major with minors in Biomedical Engineering and Computer Science, will graduate in spring 2020.