Major: International and Area Studies
Hometown: Morrisville, NC
Study Abroad Program: Chinese University of Hong Kong
On my first day of Asian business class at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, we dispelled a few stereotypes about Asian business strategy. These stereotypes seemed to be very close to what I had believed Asian business strategy was all about. This was the moment that I began to realize how imperative it is to question what you read and learn, and that being able to form your own opinion and interpret things in a different way is such a valuable quality to have.
During my third week of Chinese government and politics class we discussed the possibility of China becoming a democracy. During this discussion I found myself understanding more about my own democracy than I thought. This was the point in time that I learned that history, a lot of the times, is written from the victor’s perspective – from colonization, ideological battles and even wars – and every country has their view of how things took place, every country can find their own victories in battles.
It wasn’t until my last day that I realized I had learned so much from my stay in Hong Kong. As a study abroad student, I never realized how much I would gain from living in another country and submersing myself in another culture. I learned things about myself, and the people around me, that I would not have had the opportunity to learn in my home country. It’s opportunities like these that give people a different perspective on life and shows one their true potential and ability. I never knew I could adapt to another culture with such ease. I could not have imagined that I take the time to learn more about what I don’t understand rather than fear it or dislike it. What’s most, I never appreciated more the freedoms that I have and the life that I am able to live until I experienced how other parts of the world live. This has given me such a great respect for my country.
The study abroad program at UNC gave me the opportunity to experience another life for a summer, and being a Phillips Ambassador scholar made it possible. I am forever grateful for having the opportunity to study abroad in Hong Kong. I can honestly say will be a lifelong memory. The philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli once said “without opportunity abilities are wasted, and without ability, opportunity arises in vain.” Being a Phillips Ambassador gave me the opportunity, and once I returned and reflected on what I had gained and learned from the experience, I realized how able I was – not only to adapt to another culture, but also to not fear something I don’t understand, but to embrace it with an open mind.