August 16, 2016

Living and learning in Beijing

Earl Woods Scholar Joanna Cheung spent the summer in China, not only exploring the land but participating in a six-week internship with tech startup Beijing Lehome Information and Technology. From her cultural excursions with her fellow cohort of Scholars, to her time spent learning within Beijing’s technology industry, Cheung shares the new and memorable experiences that she will surely take with her for years to come.

China succeeded in pushing me out of my comfort zone to try new things right from the start. As soon as I got on the first plane to China, I was forced to hold a conversation in Mandarin, something I would have never done in the United States. It was even more amazing to experience new things with my cohort throughout the 11-day journey. I am glad I had the opportunity to further bond with my cohort while trying unique dishes, like a butterfly cocoon, and enhancing our Mandarin skills!

Alongside visiting the many attractions that showed us the history of China, we were given the chance to visit two schools — one rural elementary and one college — which many tourists do not get to experience. At the elementary school, we were greeted by little kids and were given red headbands, which signified a high rank of intelligence. My favorite memory was when we were about to leave, the cohort decided to take a group picture. By the end of that photo shoot the kids raced toward us, trying their hardest to get into the picture. At the college we visited, the students studying to be translators greeted us and gifted us with their hometown items. My interaction with these college students led to a fast friendship. Even during my internship period in China, I was able to meet up with some of them once again. 

My internship was at Beijing Lehome Information and Technology, a start-up company working on developing an app called R-Radius or 半径社区. The app focuses on providing services, such as grocery shopping, paying bills and automatic door opening, for community members living in apartment complexes. Because the company is a start-up, they are always looking into new ways to advance and make their app better. Therefore, I was in charge of working on relations between our company and the American companies that developed similar apps. Through my work, I was able to give them new ways to advance and also give them an idea of how to advance into the American market if they would like to do so in the future. I was even able to help with creating the app’s English name. 

On most days, my coworkers and I are in the office, each one doing a specific job: programming, editing images or data analysis. However, each job coincides with one another and meetings are held almost daily which gives a family feeling in the company. It has been interesting seeing how differently this company is run in comparison to American companies. Talking to other people and also having visited other Chinese companies during my stay in China, I realized that most companies in China are run similarly, but are gravely different from American companies.  

During my six-week internship at Beijing Lehome Information and Technology, I was also privileged to live like a local in Beijing. From the crowded subways to the various delicious cuisines, I got to see the differences and similarities in our cultures. The most interesting of them all was an exercise program that would display on the company television at 4 p.m. daily. When the program came on, everyone would get up to do a bit of exercise! 

From my first day at the company, where I barely spoke to my coworkers because of the language barriers and having to find someone to  (translate), to finally being able to hold some conversations pretty well, I have gained so much from this experience. Thanks to Ourgame and all its supportive staff, my coworkers at Beijing Lehome Information and Technology, the Tiger Woods Foundation and my mentor Adam Pliska, I was able to have this life changing experience.

Champions of the unexpected for 20 years.