by Sean Yuan
I am now back at home in PA. From struggling with USD currency in the airport to waking up at 3 in the morning feeling wide awake and very cold in 75 degree temperatures, I have been trying to adjust to the life I lived before this summer. After spending two months in Shanghai, you get used to it. Instead going outside and buying whatever food I seemed to fancy along the way, I now just have to go downstairs and look in the fridge for leftovers. If I have to go anywhere, like most other Americans, I drive. After being used to brushing elbows with fellow passengers on the subway, I am very conscious of the layers of metal, plastic, and glass that separate me from other commuters. I’m certainly walking much less than I did in Shanghai. There’s a certain charm to big, crowded cities like Shanghai. I miss it, but it is also much more peaceful here in the suburbs.
I miss my coworkers and the other interns. I’ll be able to keep in touch with them, but liking a Facebook post just isn’t as fun as a handshake and saying, “Hello, good morning.” The warm, relaxed atmosphere of a the small office is another thing I will miss. In such an environment, everyone can be friends and grow very close to each other. Working at SMH International has opened my eyes to what life after college can be. I wish that, wherever I end up after graduating, I’ll be able to be with friendly, caring, and funny people like those I was blessed to meet at SMH International. I’ll miss the interns, too. I wish them luck in their studies, future job hunts, and experiences. Parting is such sweet sorrow.
This summer I learned a lot about myself and the marketing side of business, with a dash of modern-day tech. I researched international markets for agricultural goods such as wild blueberries and Alaskan seafood. I took this information and used it to make PowerPoint presentations and other projects. I also had the opportunity to apply my self-taught Photoshop and video editing skills in creating promotional videos for American Pistachio Growers. In addition, I helped start the ongoing project of building a new home page for the company. My experiences challenged me to think creatively, solve problems I never knew existed, and see marketing and promotion in a new light. Although this was a marketing internship and I am an IT Management major, I was prepared to apply myself creatively while being open to learn any technical or social skill I could, so it all worked out.
My favorite memories from this summer will be the conversations I had with my coworkers in the canteen for lunch, located at the basement level of the Super Brand Mall in possibly the most modern, thriving, commercial sector in China. Over our lunch placed on green plastic trays, we discussed social, political, moral, philosophical, and other matters which captured our interest. Whether the conversation was about NSA and Snowden, education in China vs. other countries, the difficulty in searching for jobs, or the ‘state of our youth’, the mix of perspectives from different cultures and geographies made our talks very exciting, but never heated or offensive. It was during these lunches that I really came to appreciate how Shanghai draws in people from around the world and unites them.
I believe that through international travel and bonding with members of various backgrounds, one undergoes a spiritual and cultural growth that can only be achieved by expanding the boundaries of one’s heart and mind. I also believe that this kind of growth is part of SIBC’s mission, “Peace through Commerce,” for Peace is often the result of understanding, which soothes the caustic effects of clashing cultures, while Commerce is the bridge which connects cultural and geographical rifts.
Therefore I must thank the board of SIBC and Mr. Frank Potenziani, for it is the result to their efforts and contributions that I am blessed to have had this learning experience in Shanghai. I could not think of a better way to spend my summer.