Beijing Summer 2015

*Due to circumstances in China with wordpress being blocked, these posts could not be posted on time, and are therefore being posted in one go.

7 June 2015

Good morning everyone! My name is Seung Hee (Teresa) Jeong, and I am a rising junior at ND. I am a Finance major, and I spent the summer at the SIBC sponsored internship in Beijing, China at the Notre Dame Asia office. I had never been to China, and I also don’t speak any Chinese, so to say that I was nervous is an understatement. However, I was also excited to move out of my comfort-zone, and to learn about a whole new culture, especially one as rich and deep as China’s.

I touched down in Beijing on May 24th and after roughly 12 hours on the plane, it felt good to have my two feet on the ground. The first thing that strikes you in Beijing is the people- Beijing International Airport is one of the largest airports I have seen and yet it is absolutely packed with people. This was only the first taste of Beijing’s packed population: the next morning, on my way to my first day of work, my partner and I were literally squashed wherever we went be it on the streets, in the morning train, or even in the elevator up to the office. While it can be tedious if you are running late (which, thank goodness, we never were), the sight is really awe-inspiring. People are packed into tiny spaces, and then you see a literal flood of people leaving the train into the station. I’d imagine that if you were watching from the sky, it would look something like when ants swarm around the entrance to an anthill. Even after two weeks, I am still amazed at how the people move here.

Our first weeks of work really focused on the Business and Culture in China summer program (or as we called it the BCC program). Amongst all the paperwork that was required and the copious planning, there was the fun part of planning a cultural scavenger hunt for the students that allowed my partner and I to go to places such as the Summer Palace, the Old Summer Palace, and the Olympic Park. It was fascinating to look around, especially the Old Summer Palace where there is so much history embedded in the site.

Old Summer Palace Pagoda

Old Summer Palace Pagoda

Summer Palace

Summer Palace

"The Bird Nest"

“The Bird Nest”

VIP lounge inside the Olympic Stadium

VIP lounge inside the Olympic Stadium

28 June 2015

The past three weeks went so quickly; I’m still surprised at where the time went. I cannot believe that I have spent five weeks in China already, but time has flown by. The last three weeks were completely jam-packed with work: with the arrival of the BCC program students. Our work was divided between the office work- marketing materials, transcripting videos and interviews, etc.- and guiding the students on their cultural and business tours. Due to my language barrier, the work ended up being split so that I took the students on the cultural tours along with a guide, while my partner took them on their business tours.

I really enjoyed those weeks with the BCC students, because we went to so many famous cultural locations such as the Forbidden City, the Great Wall, some temples, a contemporary art district called 798, amongst others. My personal favorite was the Great Wall, and the Llama temple: the day we went to the Great Wall it was like luck was on our side because the air cleared and it was probably the most beautiful day during my trip. The view from the wall was incredible, and no pictures that we took could do the scenery any justice. When you stand on the wall and look out, it really feels like you could fly the sky and hills are so beautiful. You can also read the history of the wall in the chipped stones, the sloping stairs, and the lookout posts.

The Llama temple on the other hand was amazing in the details that we could see in all aspects of the temple. The statues themselves are absolutely awe-inspiring, but what really captured my attention was the detail they put into the buildings that housed the statues. There were patterns and designs of flowers, clouds, the sky and nature painted into every crevice of each temple. Unfortunately the dim lighting made it difficult to capture the full picture, no pun intended, but even from afar you can see the patterns on the buildings as seen in the picture below.

Tiananmen Square at the Forbidden City with the BCC program

Tiananmen Square at the Forbidden City with the BCC program

The Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China

View from the Great Wall

View from the Great Wall

Llama temple with the BCC program

Llama temple with the BCC program

12 July 2015

I cannot believe how fast time has gone. It is already the end of my seven weeks in Beijing, and I honestly don’t know where that time has gone. Although I have learnt so much, I feel as though I still have so much still I want to do. I suppose that is one downside to going to a place with several thousand years’ worth of history. The final weeks of the internship were focused on moving onto new projects after the BCC program was successfully completed, as well as moving the office. Our office moved from where we had originally been in the western Haidian district near Peking University, to the Chaoyang district, right by the US Embassy and closer to the business hub of Sanlitun. Amongst the moving fiascos, we were focusing on three big projects: a culture trip to Shanghai and Hangzhou for the Beijing Language Program students, a parent’s handbook for students coming to ND from the greater China region, and researching and creating learning modules for a leadership “camp” called I-Led, hosted at ND for international high school students over the summer.

At the end of my internship, I find myself reflecting on the experience as a whole, and what I have learnt as well as some regrets that I have. I think what I have learnt most from my work, amongst other things, is the value of time management and also being very flexible: our work was usually set for us with a deadline of about two weeks, but every day we went into the office there would be additional work that had to be completed by the end of the day or by the next morning. This definitely helped to hone my time management skills, and it also taught me how to work in an ever-changing environment. I also learnt quite a lot about the Chinese culture, especially in terms of their food. It is interesting to see how different the dishes are in different parts of China, and you find there is a cultural influence from these differences as well. If I had to state a regret, it is that there is still so much more that could be learnt, and I did not have the opportunity to further explore the rest of China.

Authentic Beijing Duck!

Authentic Beijing Duck!

However, I can say that this experience was one of the best summers of my life, and I am grateful to SIBC for giving me the opportunity. It has been an amazing time in this historical city, and I loved every minute of it. Thank you SIBC and thank you Beijing!

Ecuador “Oportuni-Squad” Part 3

The past two weeks in the field went by quickly. Team Oportunidad (or “Oportuni-squad,” as we call it) lived and worked in Pulingui, a community 45 minutes away from Riobamba. In less than a week, we will complete our internship and head back home. Looking back to the past eight weeks, I have discovered, to my relief, that I have realized the three goals I set for myself when the internship first started.

GOAL #1: SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP IN ACTION

We talk about social entrepreneurship a lot in classroom settings. But this has been my first time actually implementing SE theories in a professional working environment. It sounds cheesy, but there have been so many first times in the past two months that this internship has changed my life and worldview. First time consulting for grassroots startups. First time giving a consulting presentation in Spanish. First time working in the field of financial education and savings groups. First time conducting door-to-door surveys and marketing… Through these fieldwork experiences, I have developed a set of values and practices that I will stick to in future social entrepreneurship works.

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UTOPIA, a “Canasta Communitaria” (community veggie basket) in Riobamba, is a client of our grassroots consulting service. La Caja Solidaria, UTOPIA’s internal savings group, is seeking to expand its function: as demand for savings groups in local area increases, UTOPIA hopes to help create and give advice to other savings groups. Last week, we created a guidance manual for UTOPIA, outlining a step-by-step road map for creating and improving a savings element in work associations. 

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Campaign publicity with local entrepreneur Rosa. 

GOAL #2: SPANISH IMMERSION

My friend challenged me before the summer to learn 10,000 Spanish words during my time in Ecuador (~200 words per day). I am going to be honest here and admit that I have obviously failed to do so. Even so, I am still proud of and grateful to my homestay families (well, and myself) for taking the 10,000-word challenge and making efforts to immerse me in the Spanish language context. From week 1, when I didn’t know a single word in Spanish, to week 8, when I can do basic communications with my Ecuadorian families, tremendous efforts have been made. My three favorite Spanish activities are chatting with my host families (including babysitting my 4-year-old sister in Pulingui), conducting door-to-door publicity on campaign days, and doing consulting presentations in Spanish. Muchas gracias to everyone who listened to me patiently and who corrected my mistakes in our conversations!

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My host family in Pulingui. I couldn’t ask for a better pair of host siblings. 

GOAL #3: ENJOY THE SUMMER (#YOLO)

“Do what you are afraid of doing, and you will discover that you are much stronger than you thought.” I don’t remember who said this to me, but I will forever remember what reminded me of this quote – our Chimborazo hike.

Hiking is a major part of our downtime in Ecuador. And to be honest, I was afraid of it in the beginning. High elevation makes it difficult to breathe; steep slopes and deep mud slow down our paces; rolling rocks increase the difficulty and risk… However, as we hiked mountains after mountains, I gradually found myself at ease and even excited. Our biggest hiking highlight is in Chimborazo, the tallest mountain in Ecuador. We set out for the hike last Thursday, hoping to meet up with Baltazar Ushca, the last “ice merchant,” on the top of the mountain by 2 pm. The ice beyond the snowline of Chimborazo is well-known for its sweetness. Harvesting ice and bringing it down from the mountain have thus been a local tradition for hundreds of years. However, as less and less people were willing and able to take up the job, this tradition has been in danger of dying. Baltazar is the last “Chimborazo iceman” in the world. Every Thursday, he goes to Chimborazo and brings down the ice to sell in local markets with drinks. It was a tough hike, as not only was the trial steep and rocky, but it was also raining and hailing, making it harder to see and breathe. As we mounted higher, the wind grew much fiercer, blowing small, sharp particles of hails into our faces. At some point, it was difficult to even open our eyes. Our faces and lungs hurt from the hail and the breathing, and each small step seemed to take hours. However, Team Oportuni-squad made it to the top and we were in great honor to witness the Baltazar harvesting Chimborazo ice.

After the Chimborazo hike, I felt that I could do anything. I enjoy overcoming my fears, which has made this summer even more unique and memorable. You Only Live Once, and life is too short to skip Chimborazo.

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Baltazar harvesting ice in Chimborazo. 

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Team “Oportuni-squad” made it!!

Muchas gracias to those who have been reading my stories so far. Also, I want to thank SIBC and HYSP for offering me this opportunity to learn & explore & serve & reflect. This summer is a blast!

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BY Yuchen Zou

Ecuador Part 2

I am always amazed by how fast time flies. Three weeks has passed since I left Cuenca for intensive field work in the southern regions of Loja and Zamora-Chinchipe. This Monday, our team returned to Cuenca and spent a week in the city to reflect on our previous work. Next Monday, we will hit the road again and spend two weeks in Pulingui, a small community next to Riobamba. Before I leave internet connections, I want to share my stories and lessons learned from the past three weeks. This blog consists of three parts: a quote, a story & my takeaways, and pictures.

First of all, quote of the month: “If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. If you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” – Lilla Watson

This is one of the most beautiful quotes I have ever encountered. It will be guiding my principle in all kinds of social entrepreneurship works in the future. We had a thorough discussion about this quote in the past reflection week in Cuenca. For me, it connects with the difference between charity and solidarity. Charity is meaningless without solidarity and mutual respect. There isn’t such a thing as single-way empowerment. All kinds of empowerment are, as I believe, mutual. In social entrepreneurship, everyone’s liberation is bound together.

Next, a story.

I tried very hard to suppress the urge to check my watch. It was already noon, and we still had 20 finance surveys to conduct before leaving at 1 pm. However, we have been talking to the lady in front of us for nearly 20 minutes – only to get one survey done. Eager to practice my (very very elementary) Spanish, I tried to communicate interactively with our interviewee as much as possible; but meanwhile, I was worrying over the team’s time management.

In week 3 and 4, Social Entrepreneur Corps officially started field work in different regions across the country. My team, Oportunidad, traveled to the Southern part of Ecuador and stayed in Ñamarin, Loja and Timbara, Zamora, to implement the micro-consignment model. Our work in el campo can be divided into three major categories: assisting local entrepreneurs in village-access campaigns, consulting for grassroots organizations and savings groups, and finally, developing a financial literacy business model.

Another five minutes had passed, but our conversation showed no sign of stopping. As the Amazonian sun above us became stronger and stronger, my anxiety grew. We were doing surveys regarding financial literacy and institutions in the town of Paquisha. The survey data would later be analyzed and used to build a viable model for implementing long-term, socially-impactful finance projects in Ecuador. To be self-motivated, we made quantifiable goals for ourselves and were aiming to conduct 30 surveys within our 2-hour stay in Paquisha. So, when we were talking to this interviewee, there was only one word in all the seven team members’ minds: QUANTITY.

But we were wrong. The 30-minute conversation with the lady in front of us helped us realize that, in social entrepreneurship, quantity is a very insufficient measurement of success. As we were compiling survey data from our interviewees, we discovered to our surprise that the longer the conversation was, the more valuable information we got from the surveys. The last lady we talked to in Paquisha later turned out to be the president of a local women’s association/savings group. In our long conversation, she offered us not only answers to our survey questions but also detailed information on how rural savings group in the Zamora-Chinchipe region work as well as the credibility of cooperatives and credit unions in the Southern Ecuador. Eager to finish the conversation as fast as possible, none of us realized the value of the seemingly “extra” information to our future work in model-building. In addition, we got to know about the interviewee as an individual instead of mere survey data. The door-to-door survey experience has taught me patience, meticulousness, and most importantly, the fact that QUALITY MATTERS.

This is an example of how I learned and grew in the field work. In the field, where we put social entrepreneurship theories into real practice, I brought a long list of takeaways home every day after work. All the takeaways echo one critical principle: balance. Balance of quantity and quality. Balance of giving and taking. Balance of the time spent in different types of work. Social entrepreneurship is all about effective and reasonable balance.

Here are some pictures from the past few weeks. Despite the busy working schedule, I got to spend a decent amount of time with my host families, who were so sweet that I nearly cried at the farewell party before we head back to Cuenca. I also went hiking, visited some breathtaking waterfalls, and spoke as much Spanish as possible!

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I was with two of the most beautiful human beings in the world — my host siblings David and Kenny. Never have I experienced so much mutual respect for culture in this small but sweet family. They melt my heart. It is interesting to observe that when people cannot fully communicate with language, they actually get closer. 

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TEAM OPORTUNIDAD! Creating opportunities out of obstacles!!

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Paquisha, a beautiful town in Zamora-Chinchipe where we did MCM surveys, held campaigns, and had great memories.

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My host dad from Timbara. He is awesome!!

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Taffy making activity with Amor y Fortaleza, a grassroots association in Timbara. We did a consulting presentation for the members afterwards. 

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Need analysis with our local entrepreneurs!

Finally, HAPPY 4TH OF JULY!! 

By Yuchen Zou

A Cheesy Recommendation in Saraguro

They were frantically yelling at each other across a large room. Twenty or so families depended on the success of this cooperative and not all was in order. We were about to present our recommendations (¡in Spanish!) to this cheese cooperative in Saraguro, Ecuador.

A sustainable Ecuadorian life contrasts greatly from that of an American. People do not strive to work in corporate Ecuador; that path does not exist. The people live off of the land. These local farmers had been selling their produce for centuries. However, it was time to change. Most recently, local shops refused to purchase cheese on a consistent basis. Not to mention, the large markup shopkeepers would take. The farmers decided to form a cooperative.

Amongst twenty families, organizing a cooperative would not be easy. Many families had to travel miles through the mountainous region to attend meetings. Many did not show up at all. Most were at the will of their farms. Agrarian work is intense. Meanwhile, the group was at an impasse, having a location to process and sell the cheese but lacking governmental health approval. The cooperative needed centralization. Twenty families could neither regulate each other nor control quality.

We decided that it was most important to create an organizational structure that could adequately handle day-to-day operational demands and maintain order within the cooperative. Initially, we hypothesized that the organization could function just like a family business in the U.S.: a manager, a part-time accountant, and a few other operating employees would do. We were naïve to business in Ecuador. Accountants did not need a college education; some did not even graduate high school. The accountant would also need to operate the business. We decided to address the top of the structure. Who amongst the cooperative members would make executive decisions? We created an elected board so that the families did not need to travel so often. That board would then be responsible to hire three team members, one with a background in cheese making, another with retail experience, and the third with accounting knowledge. Surprisingly, the group not only understood my broken Spanish but also liked our idea.

Quality control was the more difficult question. Quite frankly, none of us knew even how to make cheese, so we started by visiting the facility. Here’s how it works: farmers milk their cows and process it into quesillo. They then sell the quesillo to the cooperative that processes it. Voila: cheese. Unfortunately, we discovered two main barriers to controlling quality. First, each cow grazed on different pastures and ate different feed. The cooperative needed to standardize food. Although this would be a long-term goal, group could not do this immediately. In the mean time, however, the cooperative needed to purchase the milk and ensure that the quesillo process was standardized. A variable quesillo would make an unreliable cheese (and no one likes hair in their cheese!). The group agreed. I wish the cheese cooperative the best as they grow and hope one day I can buy some fresh cheese from the group in the U.S.!

My homestay niece. Go Irish!

My homestay niece. Go Irish!

Colin, Monica, and I during the campaign.

Colin, Monica, and I during the campaign.

Look at the mountains!

Look at the mountains!

The fog was amazing...ly scary when driving.

The fog was amazing…ly scary when driving.

Watching the Ecuadorians make my Panama hat was definitely a highlight of the trip!

Watching the Ecuadorians make my Panama hat was definitely a highlight of the trip!

-Grant Ebenger

Ecuador Part 1

Buenas noches from Cuenca, Ecuador! I am Yuchen Zou, a rising sophomore majoring in ACMS and political science. Sponsored by SIBC, I am currently interning for Social Entrepreneur Corps in Ecuador. This is an eight-week internship focusing on the implementation of the microConsignment model, grassroots consulting, and social impact product development. I started two weeks ago, and up till now we have been taking intense training sessions and Spanish classes in Cuenca, the third biggest city in Ecuador. Earlier this week, we also went to rural communities nearby, where we held financial literacy and water safety workshops for elementary school kids, conducted finance-related surveys, and prepared for our first-ever market campaigns.

Here are some key takeaways from the first two weeks:

1. “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” – Neale Donald Walsch

This may sound clichéd, but it has become my favorite quote two weeks into the internship. Flying into Ecuador after three layovers and not knowing any Spanish at all, I knew that the internship experience was not going to be easy. However, within the past two weeks, Cuenca already feels like home to me. My comfort zone has expanded to include more places, languages, cultures, and people. I was surprised by the hospitality I could receive with a smile and some very basic Spanish like “Hola,” “Gracias,” and “Como esta.” I have grown to love challenges, challenges that lead me out of the college bubbles and into other parts of the world. Challenges are making me feel alive and at home.

Last Sunday was our downtime and I decided to hike in the Cajas with my friends. The Cajas National Park is located on the Andes and is very close to Cuenca. It was raining when we started our hike, and because of the humidity, the trials were unusually muddy and slippery. In addition, because we were at a relatively high elevation, breathing became increasingly difficult as we climbed up. Halfway up the first peak, I started to regret coming to the hike. “This is not for me,” I thought, “it is way too challenging and I might be risking my life.” However, after much struggle, all seven of us still successfully made it to the first peak. The moment I looked down from the 12000-feet peak, I knew all the difficult toils were worth it. The view was stunning – and it is the challenging hike up here that made the scenery much more rewarding.

In the coming weeks, all the interns will be traveling to rural areas, where economic situations and living conditions will be very different from Cuenca. This is definitely a challenge, but it is nevertheless an opportunity for me to expand my comfort zone even more and add new insights into my life. Problem is always an opportunity for improvement.

2. “Charity is a bit humiliating; it goes vertically from the top to the bottom. Solidarity is more horizontal and implies mutual respect.” — Eduardo Galeano

The two weeks’ training sessions have led me to think a lot about social entrepreneurship, solidarity, and charity. Galeano’s quote has been very controversial, but I totally agree with him. Honestly, I have been very skeptical of social services in general. Yes, I can build a house for an impoverished family, but how much impact have I made by doing that? Can a house really lead them out of the cycle of poverty? I never think that charity alone can make huge impacts in the world. It is too vertical (and even humiliating) – some people simply offer, and other people simply receive. Whether or not the recipients of charity are treated in a condescending way, most of them are still unable to really walk out of poverty. Just as the old Chinese saying goes, “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” To me, charity is an act of giving fish; it may sustain a family for one day, a week, or even a month, but in the long run, people stay impoverished.

The microConsignment model, on the other hand, offers an alternative. The Social Entrepreneur Corps work closely with local entrepreneurs, mostly females in rural areas seeking economic independence, and sponsors them with products and free market training. Through economic empowerment, the business model promotes solidarity over charity. One of the greatest features of the MCM model is that even if the entrepreneurs were not able to make an ideal sale, the financial repercussion would still be on the Social Entrepreneur Corps instead of on the entrepreneurs themselves. With long-term training and sponsorship, entrepreneurs receive the “techniques for fishing.”

In the following weeks, we will be more devoted to implementing the MCM model along with offering consulting services and financial literacy workshops for grassroots organizations in Ecuador. I look forward to gaining and sharing more insights into social entrepreneurship as an effective means to promote solidarity.

Here come the pictures:

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La Nueva Catedral, the New Church, is the symbol of Cuenca, Ecuador. Amauta Spanish School, our “base camp,” is located two blocks away.

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After a very hard hike, the seven of us made it to the second peak of Cajas. The foggy view is breathtaking.

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The finance-literacy team is holding finance “charlas” for elementary school children in Laguan, a county near Cuenca.

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Local newspapers interviewed us when we were preparing for our first campaign in Sig-Sig. 

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Ecuadorian foods presentation is a huge event for the 21 interns. It was held in the Spanish school as a part of the Ecuadorian culture sessions.

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Spotted in Bella Cuba, a famous restaurant in downtown Cuenca. Me gusta la comida!

Stay tuned for more adventures, takeaways, and pictures!!!

By Yuchen Zou

Summer in Beijing

 Hey everyone, my name is Tianyue Li, and I go by Brooke. I’m a sophomore at Notre Dame. I’m really sorry for posting this blog so late, because the wordpress website was blocked in China. This summer, I worked as an intern in Notre Dame Asia Office. Although I’ve visited Beijing with my parents when I was young, my six-week stay in Beijing has proven to be quite a different experience. Rather than being a tourist, I had the real chance to actually live in the city and get immersed in the city’s culture and history. Moreover, working with Miranda and Dr. Noble in ND Asia Office has been a rewarding experience for me.

During our time in Beijing, Amy and I stayed at Tsinghua University PBC School of Finance. Right on the right side of PBC School of Finance is Tsinghua University, one of the most prestigious colleges in China. Apart from Tsinghua University, Wudaokou, the place we lived, has many other colleges, including Peking University and Beijing Language University. The neighborhood we stayed is a bustling place full of college students. As one who goes to school in the States, I explored the life of Chinese college students during my stay in Beijing. I, together with my high school friends who go to Tsinghua, took a tour around the campus, tried out the food in one of the twenty dining halls on campus (we had Beijing Duck!), and went to a concert organized by a student club later that night. Chinese universities have a vastly different system from that of schools in the States. Before freshman orientation, the students are required to choose their majors, and they’re not allowed to change them later, which is strikingly different from how it works in the States. Chinese college students don’t get the chance to explore their interests before declaring their majors. Furthermore, Chinese universities tend to have core curriculum. More than often, it’s mandatary for students of the same major to take the same classes all through their four years. Students don’t have the opportunity to set up their own class schedule, since their schedule is often assigned by their advisors. My tour around Tsinghua University and talk with my high school friends let me realize the significant discrepancy between the education systems of China and of US.

During my first week of work, my main task was to compile a handbook for several Notre Dame summer programs in Beijing, including Business and Culture in Summer Today, IBM-CRL Internship Program, and ND Tsinghua Engineering Program. In the handbook, we put together travel information, food options in the neighborhood and basic colloquial Chinese to help people in summer program between accustomed to their stay in Beijing. At the end of the first week, we helped plan out the Annual Notre dame Alumni Picnic. The picnic had a great turnout. We met a lot of alumni as well as incoming freshman. Here’s a picture of us:

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During the second week of my work, Amy and I assisted in hosting the Business and Culture in Summer Today, a summer program for Notre Dame undergraduate students. We picked students up from the airport, served as RA and first point of contact during evenings. Moreover, we worked as chaperons on field trips. Together with students from the summer program, I visited several culture sites in Beijing, including the Forbidden City, the Great Wall, and Lama Temple. My visits to these tourist attractions helped me get to know the culture and history of Beijing, and China as a whole better. Besides the field trips to culture sites, I also went to some NGOs run by Notre Dame alumni in Beijing. We visited Carnegie Peace Center in Wudaokou, a research institute that collaborates with professors and students from Tsinghua University to conduct analysis of both Chinese and international politics. We also paid our visit to Reuters, the second largest new agencies in China (the largest is a local one named XInhuashe). In Reuters Beijing, the speaker gave us a great talk about the way foreign journalists investigate news in China. The part about negotiating with Chinese government was particularly interesting, since, as some people have already heard, China held an almost exclusive control over news media, not wanting them to disclose any information that the government doesn’t wish the public to know. Here are some pictures of Lama Temple and one picture of Amy and I in front of Tiananmen Square:

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In the following weeks, we spent more time in the office. We had the opportunity to help the Admission office update and translate marketing collateral, including several PPTs, the Fighting Irish videos, and brochures, for Notre Dame’s fall undergraduate admission trip in Asia. But the task that I spent my most time on was trying to compile a bilingual handbook for incoming Chinese students and their parents. All sorts of information, such as visa application, SSN application, international driving permit, university health service information and brief introduction of life at Notre Dame, are included and translated in the 20-page handbook. We hoped this handbook would smoothen the transition between Chinese high schools and US colleges, and help facilitate the Notre Dame experiences of both students and parents.

Finally I want to thank SIBC for offering such an amazing opportunity to work in Asia Office and meet so many wonderful people! This internship has truly been a rewarding experience for me that I would never forget. Thank you ND and thank you SIBC!

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

Final Thoughts on Berlin

What a summer! Berlin was an absolutely unbelievable place to intern for 8 weeks. It’s hard to describe how sad I am to see my time here end.

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The Victory Column, commemorating three Prussian victories in the years leading up to Germany’s unification

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One story I forgot to tell – the time I saw a man walking a COUGAR in the middle of the city at 2:00 pm on a Sunday

Professionally, this experience could not have been better. I certainly worked on lots of important projects and hone my Excel and PowerPoint skills, but I could have done that anywhere. The true value of my experience came from the international component of the work. I conducted market research entirely in German, deciphered assignments in German from certain coworkers who had difficulty explaining them to me in English, and went on a cross-EU business trip! Those opportunities don’t come from a run-of-the-mill post-sophomore year internship.

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The River Spree in the wee hours of the morning

I certainly broadened my horizons outside of the workplace as well. Living in Berlin is all about exposing yourself to different cultures and viewpoints. This may be best exemplified by the Kreuzberg neighborhood, which was always fun to walk around because it’s a mix of Turkish immigrants, left-minded people of every variety, students, startup entrepreneurs, etc. Walk around there during the day, and you are bound to run into some sort of protest, art exhibition, or thought-provoking graffiti.

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Only in Berlin does an abandoned airport get turned into a massive public park

Of course, doing all the touristy stuff proved quite fun as well. How else did I get all those awesome pictures from Dresden and Prague? And of course, this beauty of Austin and I in front of the Brandenburg Gate:

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This brings me to my final point. This internship would not have been possible without the help of the Student International Business Council and its generous benefactor, Frank Potenziani. To SIBC, Mr. Potenziani, and all else who made this trip possible, thank you.