Organization: Expertise Education Company Ltd.
Dates: 6/15/2016 to 8/15/2016
In Valentina's own words
How I contributed: I don't think I did. I only taught for two months and then I had to abruptly leave the students.
What I felt most challenged by: Culture shock. I was studying abroad in Denmark for five months. I had just acclimated to Scandinavian culture and didn't realize how hard it would be to adapt to Beijing culture.
What I enjoyed most: Using/practicing my Mandarin. The locals definitely appreciate and are more happy to interact with foreigners who can speak their language.
Would I recommend this experience: I would recommend living in China but not to teach in a school for two months. Beijing is a lively, fun, and very interesting city. Teaching for just a few months, however, feels like a very disruptive thing to do.
Melania Mora Thomas
Organization: Qimei Hebei Agricultural Science and Technology LTD
Dates: 5/21/2015 - 7/20/2015
In Melania's own words
How I contributed: We generated research on the use of cover crops and compost on corn plants. I conducted a business analysis of the company.
What I felt most challenged by: I felt the most challenged by not knowing the local language so as to be able to communicate with people and truly learn from them.
What I enjoyed most: I enjoyed farming the most. The farms up in the mountains were so scenic that being in those fields, whatever we were doing, was so meditative.
Would I recommend this experience: It would depend on what the student is looking for. While it was really valuable, there was a lot of time of inactivity with few stuff to do and no opportunity of tourist activities. Some looking to tourist around wouldn't be happy with this, neither someone who is expecting to work on a 9 to 9 schedule.
Organization: Qimei Hebei Agricultural Science and Technology LTD
Dates: 5/22/2014 to 7/21/2014
In Surayya's words
How I contributed: My work was researching better farming practices. I believe I helped the mission by helping the company produce more vegetables.
What I felt most challenged by: There was a lot of freedom so I was challenged to be patient.
What I enjoyed most: I enjoyed traveling to some of the surrounding cities and becoming acquainted with the staff, they were very pleasant.
Would I recommend this experience? I would not recommend this program unless it was seriously reworked. There is little structure to the program so I ended up spending most of my time doing nothing that contributed to the company and exploring the area.
Organization: Hebei Qimei Agricultural Sciences and Technology Co Ltd
Dates: 18-Jun-13 - 17-Aug-13
In Catherine's own words
How I contributed: With the other three interns and the help of our professors, we designed three experiments to collect data on the status of the soil health on company-owned farms with the goal of determining environmentally sustainable management tactics.
What I felt most challenged by: The professional environment in Chinese culture is extremely different from our own. While the people were incredibly hospitable, sometimes it was hard to not be allowed to do certain things.
What I enjoyed most: I spent a week in the Taihang Mountains working in a rural village where the company contracted different farmers. This experience let me feel the strongest connection to China because I spent more time interacting with farmers, exploring the landscape, and getting to know people in the town. I even hung out with elementary school kids and taught them some English words! /
Would I recommend this experience: I would recommend the experience overall, but I would suggest to be sure you put in extra effort to try to develop new ideas. Sometimes getting to travel to experiments was difficult or not an option at all, so I spent a lot of time at the company headquarters where I didn't get to help as much as I would've liked. If you can prepare by thinking of extra project ideas, that would make for a worthwhile trip.
Organization: Hebei Qimei Agricultural Technologies
Dates: 18-Jun-13 - 15-Aug-13
In Theo's own words
How I contributed: We helped the company mainly by outlining steps they can take with their contracted farmers and on their own land that can help increase their soil health. We conducted soil health tests at various locations, and did small experiments to try to show the effects of practices like composting or cover cropping. The information and advice we were able to offer the company may have gone in one ear and out the other, since they often seemed to only want us there so that they could tell organic certifiers and government officials that they had collaborated with "experts" from Cornell University. We did get a chance to work with the individual farmers, however, who seemed very happy to talk with us about various farming concerns, such as pest management and how to find small machinery at an affordable price.
What I felt most challenged by: The language barrier was the most challenging part of this experience, because working through a translator was often very difficult, and I really wished I had a better knowledge of Mandarin. At times, people would use the language barrier against us to mishear or ignore us when it suited the company's purposes. This was very frustrating, because I felt like most of the problems that we encountered could have been sorted out if we had been fluent in Mandarin and able to advocate for ourselves without the use of a translator that had been hired by the company.
What I enjoyed most: Living and working in the mountains was the best part of our trip. We were able to focus on our experiments in the field, see beautiful sights, eat good food, and interact with and learn more from the Chinese people in the village than when we were relatively isolated at the company compound.
Would I recommend this experience: This depends. If the students are the kind of people who are able to learn from a less-than-perfect kind of experience, then I think it could be a beneficial experience. If the students want a comfortable internship where things go as planned, and where lessons about the culture / society they're experiencing are spoon-fed to them, then this internship wouldn't be a good match. With this internship, very little goes as planned and you have to work to learn things from the often very frustrating experiences you're having. It can still be a huge learning experience, and for me I think it was. But I don't think I would recommend it for everybody. It would also help a LOT to know Mandarin.
What I enjoyed most: My favorite part of this experience was hiking through the Nicaraguan rain forest finding native bamboo clumps.
Would I recommend this experience: I would recommend this international experience to students who are interested in low cost housing issues because it teaches you in depth how a low cost housing company works.