My Trip to Wuhan

Joey Smith

Type of Project: Education Abroad

  • Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project. Write two or three sentences describing the main activities your STEP Signature Project entailed.

My STEP Signature Project was a study abroad to Beijing, Wuhan, and Shanghai through the Office of International Affair’s Global Leadership Academy. The main activities included practicing gymnastics at the Chinese Olympic Training Center, conducting interviews, participating in contests at the Wuhan School of Communications, and site seeing. I also had the chance to practice my language skills by ordering food, reserving hotel rooms, exchanging money at the bank, and buying train tickets, all while navigating China’s immense public transportation system.

  • What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project? Write one or two paragraphs to describe the change or transformation that took place.

Through my project, I learned that I do have the language and cultural awareness to survive in China for extended periods of time. With my double major in Chinese and Ecological Engineering, my dream career is to work in China as an engineer working on water quality. I now understand that I can make this dream career a reality.

Before my project, I assumed that since China is half a world away, life must be much different from life in the United States. After interviewing people, practicing with fellow gymnasts, and living in a foreign country for a month, I discovered that life is similar. People are working towards their goals, having fun time with their friends, working hard in school, taking care of their family members, and doing everything that I do at home in my own city. Yes, some aspects of life were different, but my view that life in different countries was completely different was transformed.

  • What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you? Write three or four paragraphs describing the key aspects of your experiences completing your STEP Signature Project that led to this change/transformation.

In China, Wechat is the app that basically combined all of America’s social media. After I met a new person during my trip, I oftentimes exchanged Wechat information with them. By doing this, I am able to keep in touch with my new friends from China! I received the contact information of lots of new friends from countless meaningful interactions.

One of these interactions was morning taichi at Wuhan University. Our group was invited to participate in this martial art with retired professors from the university. I was paired with a retired history professor who his counterparts called yeye (meaning grandfather).  Although we did not speak the same language, we had a “conversation” through taichi. He taught me how to properly perform his hobby and I followed. After the class was over, we had a conversation using Chinese. We talked about our childhoods, our hometowns, and our experiences. I had many interactions with old people, the people who I see as incredibly wise and inviting. Nearly every night, we went to the park, which was bustling with activity. Retired ladies enjoy dancing in the park at night. If people like myself want to join their dance, anyone is welcome with open arms. This affected me by making me more willing to accept and welcome others.

Another meaningful relationship was formed at the Wuhan School of Communications. Ohio State partnered with this school for three days that were spread out throughout the month. These days consisted of poetry contests, paper cutting, speaking competitions, calligraphy, and a talent show. Every American student was paired with three Chinese students. I became close with the three students I was paired with. Even though the university I was staying at and their school were about an hour apart, we still met to do KTV, which is karaoke. Singing karaoke is a very popular evening activity for young people in China. I was the “DJ” for the night, and I enjoyed selecting songs for the American and Chinese students to sing together. I switch between one American song and one Chinese song. I loved how cultures were shared through music, and the relationships remain because of technology. This affected me by making me more willing to share my culture from others, while learning about new cultures.

My favorite activity was practicing at the Olympic Training Center in Wuhan. I was able to practice with the Chinese team, and the experience was unique! I learned so many new drills to bring back home to my gym, and I taught some drills that I know. I got the contact information of several gymnasts, so it will be fun to keep in touch with them as we continue in this sport.

  • Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life? Write one or two paragraphs discussing why this change or development matters and/or relates to your academic, personal, and/or professional goals and future plans.

Since my professional goal and future plan is to live and work in China as an engineer, having the chance to live in that country for a month was imperative to ensure that this goal is worthwhile. Making these connections will help me to know people once I move to China. I had the chance to meet with admissions counselors and professors, so this experience was transformational because I will have a better chance of getting admitted to a foreign university for graduate school.

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