You can learn a lot from the Rearview Mirror

img_3930As I exited the intercontinental business center on Hanzhong road, I no longer loathed the sticky, harassing humidity that had already formulated dense drops of sweat on my back. In the midst of a symphony of chaos, Shanghai had become my second home — my solace in the east. The still, focused faces of the others trudging along in the afternoon commute transformed into smiles as I waltzed past with a new heir of confidence. My attitude was radiating. I felt a power, a happiness beyond belief. In just three months, I emerged from my cautious cocoon, with a fresh pair of wings to carry me into the coming storm of life. I left Fletcher Building feeling accomplished, stronger than ever, like I had grown a foot taller. Yet my heart ached for more; I desired greater vision, creation, inspiration, and experience. I knew that my work beyond my border had only just begun. My first real taste of the world, and it had awakened my senses to the beauties of difference, a beauty that I was determined to pursue, to explore, to evoke, for the rest of my life.

To reflect on my experience, my Davidson experiences truly carried me through the summer. First and foremost, the diversity of my Davidson education allowed me to thrive in more than one circle. From Davidson’s excellent instructional Chinese program, I was able to communicate and meet friends and connections from all over Asia. From my experiences in Chinese culture, I was able to personally relate to cultural nuances and experiences and fully grasp the vibrant Chinese lifestyle. Furthermore, the diversity of the Davidson education made me open to such encounters and helped me take advantage by fully surrounding myself with new cultural experiences. From my experiences in the Davidson challenging, economics courses, I was able to tackle complex and technical business problems and begin untying their Gordian knots with analytical solutions. From my experiences in close knit environments like Davidson, North Carolina, I was unfortunately shielded from a lot of what the world had to offer. Although, thanks to Davidson’s generosity, I was afforded the life changing opportunity to explore an entirely foreign way of life in Shanghai.

In closing, looking in the rearview mirror has helped me realize a lot about this past summer. I think a lot of what my internship experience allowed me to do was to see the world in a new way. This was best enhanced by the diversity of my Davidson education, although, I believe increasing the amount of international exposure that Davidson students get will better prepare them for working and thriving in international environments. There is a lot to be said about new experiences. The way they make you feel, grow, live, change. It’s not all easy, in fact, most of the time you’re going to wish you could just throw in the towel and go home. Yet, overcoming these challenges helps you fortify your defenses, and grow stronger than ever before. This summer undoubtedly changed my life, outlook, and perspective and I think by providing more opportunity, Davidson can begin to cultivate an even more promising and accepting culture of future professionals. Learning to dance with difference was the best possible thing I could have ever done, and I’m forever thankful for such an eye opening experience.