Shanghai interns work to increase access to education, experience cross-cultural exchange

Posted by Centre News in Chinese, Internships, News, Study Abroad 13 Nov 2014

Shanghai interns editedCentre College’s study abroad program in Shanghai not only gives students the chance to study at China’s premier Tongji University in the world’s largest city but also serves as the first and only semester-long abroad option that includes a guaranteed internship. Khun Nyan Min Htet ’17 (pictured above, left) and Hunter McCoy ’17 (pictured above, right) are currently studying at Tongji, and participating in internships that have proven to be meaningful and truly global experiences.

Both students are interning with Shanghai Sunrise, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving access to education for all of the city’s youth. Education in China is only compulsory until the ninth grade, and, as a result, many families cannot afford the tuition to keep their children in school or university afterwards. The organization raises funds to provide Shanghai area students with scholarships to continue their education.

“Shanghai Sunrise encourages businesses to support a child in need for the length of his or her enrollment in school,” explains McCoy, who hails from Sparta, Tenn., and plans to major in financial economics.“The organization has more than 900 businesses supporting well over 1,000 students.”

As a finance intern, McCoy’s current project has been to update the organization’s accounting database. Since Shanghai Sunrise relies solely on volunteers, McCoy’s efforts have been invaluable.

“The organization has grown so large that the current database is prone to flaws in terms of bookkeeping,” he says. “Right now, I am trying to combine the database with an accounting software program, and my goal is to make the whole system as practical and efficient as I can.”

Min Htet, an international student from Lashio, Myanmar, who is known as Joy Joy, has been involved in Shanghai Sunrise’s event planning, focusing mainly on the organization’s annual fundraiser. He hopes to one day pursue a career in nonprofits, so this internship experience has been highly instructive and relevant to his future.

“I chose this internship because I wanted to explore the world of nonprofit organizations in China and how they function in cosmopolitan cities like Shanghai,” he says.

According to Joy Joy, this internship has also challenged him to go beyond his comfort zone.

“I have learned how to interact with people I have never met, communicate with contacts I have never seen and, most importantly of all, work well with someone who is more experienced and knowledgeable.”

McCoy notes that though interning in another country presents specific difficulties, such as navigating the language barrier, he views it as an opportunity for growth.

“The internship is just one of the many opportunities I have in any given day to practice my Chinese outside the classroom,” he says.

Moreover, McCoy has also seen for himself the impact Shanghai Sunrise can have on the lives of students.

“The most inspiring part of the job is talking with the students supported by Sunrise,” McCoy says. “Many of them have experienced extremely rough times yet maintain a positive attitude.”

In addition to building relationship with Shanghai locals through their internships, Joy Joy and McCoy have had the chance to meet people from all over the globe, thanks to Tongji University’s impressive international student population.

“Studying at Tongji will give you a little taste of just about every part of the world,” says McCoy. “Tongji supports roughly 500 international students in language classes alone, and it’s been fun to talk to them and learn about their cultures.”

As an international student at Centre, Joy Joy firmly believes studying abroad is a worthwhile venture for everyone.

“I strongly encourage other students, even those who are already studying abroad at Centre, to take this opportunity to study abroad,” says Joy Joy. “This experience has broadened my view of the world and has allowed me to further develop my understanding of intercultural communication and exchange.”

Learn more about Centre-in-China.

Learn more about Shanghai Sunrise.

by Caitlan Cole