Learning Enterprises
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Gloria Xu

Major: Economics
Hometown: University Park, PA

How did you learn about this opportunity?

I was talking with my friends at other universities, and there was already a Learning Enterprises chapter at one friend who attends Georgetown. She recommended that I apply. Asking friends who are also seeking summer internships can be very helpful.  

Tell us a little bit about your experience.

We traveled to a small village-town in China (mine was named Banjing, which neighbors Rugao City) to teach English to elementary and middle school age kids. We also lived with a host family in the village, along with a native Chinese Nanjing University student teaching partner. The program lasted a total of four weeks. Each day, we taught classes from 8:00am to 11:00am, had lunch provided for us in the school cafeteria, and then planned lessons for a few hours with our teaching partners before heading home to our host families. I enjoyed most having conversations with my teaching partner and living partner about the differences between American and Chinese culture, as well as interacting with my host family every night (and the weekend excursions to cultural historical places!).

How did this experience impact you academically?

Through this experience in China, I was pushed to experience a whole other culture, and this has led me to view my academic life at Penn State differently. Firstly, this experience helped me value my education more. As I was teaching English, I learned some of the difficulties in trying to design a lesson plan that is both engaging and informative. I began to understand some of the struggles that teachers go through and how difficult it is to make a class both informative and engaging; this increased my appreciation and respect for their daily efforts. I also saw that in this small village, native English speakers are extremely uncommon, and this made me value the amazing and extremely qualified teachers at Penn State more as well. In addition, experiencing other cultures helped me cultivate a desire to work in something more global, as well as to strive to understand other countries. It made me more interested in the economic systems of other countries, especially since my host dad happened to work in the local government. Academically, it has encouraged me to take more globally oriented classes at Penn State.

...experiencing other cultures helped me cultivate a desire to work in something more global, as well as to strive to understand other countries.

What are your career goals and plans?  How did this experience impact them?

I am currently an economics major and am interested in learning about consumer behavior and the way economic systems work. In that line, living in an entirely different country for more than a month really helped stimulate and cultivate my interest in different economic systems, with the different currency and pricing and standard of living. In China, it seems that food and transportation are much more affordable than in the United States. It was interesting to see how that impacted my daily life (it made me feel like I was saving an inordinate amount of money, even though native citizens would find the prices to be normal).

Would you recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students?

The experience was something I would not trade for anything else. I loved being surrounded by Mandarin, and I loved being able to communicate with my living partner and teaching partner, who were both university students as well, and learn more about their culture and answer their questions about American culture. If a student is interested in learning a foreign language, this is a great opportunity for them!

How has the Paterno Fellows Program had an impact on this experience?

Without the support of the Paterno Fellows Program, I would not have been able to experience this amazing opportunity to spread global culture to the beautiful small town of Banjing this summer. I was able to purchase teaching supplies to try to create a very warm, welcoming English learning atmosphere for the students, and for this, I am extremely grateful. In addition, the Paterno Fellows Program's emphasis on creating globally aware students pushed me to embrace this opportunity even more!

For more information on global opportunities for Liberal Arts students, visit our website.
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