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:


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!