The last bits of my time here is China are flying by. It is unbelievable! Week seven was both a light week and a really busy week at the same time. My second to last week here in Beijing was spent hanging with friends and working on a creative app design project for Zinch. There was a week-long, company-wide competition so the heat was on. Unfortunately, because the competition contained some company secrets and brand-sensitive information, I really cannot say anything more about the work from last week. Bummer, I know! I would still love to share some photos from the end of the week and the weekend, though! I have some really great ones. Enjoy!
Trashion Day @ Zinch!
Baby Michael’s 1st Birthday!
Because I posted about a few events and adventures last week, I thought I would close up this past week with another fun post rather than an all-inclusive one. Can you believe the sixth week of my summer internship is already completed and I am going on week seven out of nine? It is shocking to me! I want it to never ever end. If any of you readers know how to turn back the hands of time to give me just a few more weeks here, please let me know!
Before I begin to explain more Nanlou Alley and the real purpose of this post, let me give a brief update of how my work in Beijing is going! As most of you know, when I arrived to Beijing I was put on an intern group that focuses its time on creating and working to implement a recycling program within some of China’s top high schools. Zinch recognizes the fact that China is literally drowning in garbage, and it wants to reach out as best it can. And, to do so, they gave us full reigns! We started out with a lot of brainstorming—figuring out how we could excite China’s youth about fixing this age-old problem. We want to inspire students to affect change in their own world, and what better way to challenge students to do good than to do it in their school? Didn’t someone say that children are our future, and that we should teach them well and let them lead the way? :)
Anyway, so after our brainstorming we decided on four main projects—I don’t think that I can describe them filly here because of legal issues—that would encourage students to live more “green.” We are super excited about the projects, and we know that students will be, too! Next, we needed collaborators. Rachel and I went to a Green Drinks event and made some great connections. Remember reading about it in this post? After that we also visited Beijing’s Water Museum, a few local tourist attractions to observe garbage habits and a 60-something year old professor named Zhao Zhangyuan (from the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences and the Chinese Geophysical Society Appraisal Center for Environment and Engineering) who is still active in his efforts to change Beijing into a more sustainable land. Here is a picture of us with him!
Our next plan of action is to make our original plan more…actionable! We are working more and more on coming up with ideas to present to principals, clubs and student leaders at our target schools. We don’t know exactly what our next move will be, but I bet it will be a good one! Stay tuned to hear more about how we here at Zinch are making moves with recycling! Now, onto Nanlou Alley!
While on our trip home from Yantai, Kai and I made plans to go to Nanlou Alley sometime during the week. He wanted to show me more of Beijing, and I was more than willing to accept the offer! We planned to go on Thursday, and I was excited when the day arrived. I left work early, at 3 pm, to go meet Kai. The plans were as follows… 1) Nanlou Alley, 2) Friends Café, 3) SOHO area shopping, 4) dinner, 5) movie, 6) then home. The day was jam-packed! That seems to be the case when Kai plans our hangouts. It certainly makes for an adventure, though! We only got through some of the day’s event before some strange type of food poisoning or something similar kicked in and I needed to go home to rest. What a bummer!
Check out the pictures of how the first couple of hours in Nanlou Alley panned out! You’ll notice there are a couple of photos with younger Chinese students wearing blue t-shirts. Those kids are from a famous English training school here! They must have been on a school trip at Nanlou Alley. They were traveling around the area in small groups, asking to interview foreigners. Guess who was asked three times? This girl! I had Kai take photos of me with two of the groups. I was asked some fun questions, too. I’ve included some of them below the picture of me with my favorite group!
Kai got a great shot! The above picture had to have been taken during one of the many silly questions I was asked or silly things I was told. These included:
- “So, do you like Justin Beiber? I used to like him but now he is the worst.”
- “What about Taylor Swift? Do you like her? She just has so many boyfriends.”
- (Pointing to Kai) “Is he your boyfriend? He is sooooo handsome.”
- “You are just so beautiful.”
- “You are from NY? I want to go. It is so beautiful there.”
This past weekend I took a three-day trip with a few Zinch China colleagues! We went to Yantai, a seaside town in a northeastern area of China called Shandong province. The town is gorgeous! Our travels were part of Zinch’s Summer Tour. The Summer Tour is comprised of three stops throughout China, giving our company an opportunity to get its name out and raise brand awareness in our designated market. The trip was great, even despite the fact that our presentations didn’t yield as many audience members as we had expected (and put in the contract). Below is a quick, bullet-pointed play-by-play of the weekend, concise details and all! And, of course, there is a photographic summary as well!
Saturday, July 13: DAY ONE
- Met w/ Kai at the Hualian mall in Wudaokou @ 12pm
- Explored, ordered lunch and waited for Angelina
- Ate AWESOME dumplings and noodles at a traditional Cantonese restaurant in the mall
- Waited at a juice bar to waste time
- Waited some more
- And more still!
- Hour long taxi ride to the train…ugh!
- Found Sherry (the fourth and final person for the party!) at the platform
- Boarded our train!
Sunday, July 14: DAY TWO
- Finally arrived in Yantai, 15 hours later!
- 8 am arrival
- What next? Touring the seaside, of course!
- Wine tour, wine tour, wine tour (who knew that Yantai was once conquered by the French, and another area by the Germans)
- Next, it was presentation time! (Don’t worry, we only went to one winery and tried two wines–one white, one red. Nomsies!!)
- Traditional Yantai dumplings for dinner (mushroom and veggie, seafood medley, fish, and eggs with chives)
- Window shopping to pass the time
- Coffee shop sitting/ wifi time until the train
- Grocery store stop, then time to board!
- Brandy & cokes with chips and some rousing games of “never have I ever” with the coworkers. (I don’t even know…..or actually, I guess now I do know hahaha)
Monday, July 15: DAY THREE
- Early wake up, late arrival to Beijing
- Taxi ride back to Wudaokou with Kai
- Home by 4 pm
- Shower (First one since Saturday…is this what hell feels like?)
- So much lying around!!
- REUNITED WITH THE FAM FOR DINNER
Check out these pictures! They are all from Saturday, since that’s the day we spent out and about. Enjoy!
It seems like years since my last post! Last week—my second full week in Beijing—was full of tons of little activities, outings and presentations. It was great! I am really being thrown into some great experiences here, and I couldn’t be more grateful. It was a busy week (and weekend, for that matter!) and although week three of Beijing is almost halfway over, I still have some exciting things to tell, so I’ll be sure to get them all onto the blog before it is time for this week’s post!
After my visit to The Bookworm last week with fellow intern Rachel, we were all very busy gathering all photos, notes and experiences of the past weeks to compile for a presentation to give Angela Zhao, Marketing Manager at Zinch China. Angela is head honcho here at the Beijing office, so we were all a bit tense during prep. We left Martin in charge of the main design, and the rest of us each laid claim over a specific section of the Prezi. I got the second half of our little research project field trips and the second half of the partnerships.
I went over the presentation a few times and made sure that all of the English was top notch. Although all employees are Chinese, save me and two others, the presentation was meant to be in English for “head honcho Zhao.” And so, of course, we wanted it to be great. Zhao previously lived in San Francisco and has impeccable English, by the way! Anyway, after reviewing the presentation for grammar and syntax, I took some notes on my sections. The other interns wanted me to focus on the differences in opinions of recycling and garbage between America and China. To me, the differences abound and are quite clear, but to people who have only seen America in the movies, it is important to elaborate! I took some notes on the topic and got myself ready. We presented to Angela and Nibble and got rave reviews! Angela said that we really impressed her with our Prezi, she was proud of our progress. Our next job, said Angela, was to make the plan more actionable. Time to get moving!! (Later in the day I gave another presentation…a dry run of my Yan Tai presentation, but more on that in another post).
Although I don’t have pictures of the presentations to share here, I do have some pretty great images to share from the Beijing Water Museum we visited later that week! Check them out below :)
Last night, Rachel and I went to The Bookworm, a bookstore on South Sanlitun Road (in Beijing) to promote our cause after hearing a presentation by NGO Greening the Beige. The event was called “Green Drinks,” and according to Bookworm’s site and flyer, it is a monthly event for “those interested in environmental, social and development issues in China.” We went to the event not fully knowing what to expect, but were ready with Zinch info on hand for whatever was thrown in our direction.
Bookworm is more than a bookstore, actually. Besides being a magical land of books and all things English-speaking or –spoken, it is a café and library too! Rachel had been there once before and had only great things to say on our walk over. I was not only pleasantly surprised when we walked in, but also a bit overcome with joy at how homey the place felt, in more ways than one. It has a cool start-up story, too! Rachel told me that The Bookworm started out as a storage place for t books bought by one or two girls during their travels. The girls came from another country and were traveling through and around China, and needed a place to keep all of their paperback and hardcover finds. They rented a small room for the books, but as their travels expanded so too did their book collection. Eventually, the girls had to leave China but their books stayed behind—hence the beginning of The Bookworm! What a cool story! :)
We arrived to the bookstore about two hours in advance of the event, giving us plenty of time to get acquainted with the place. Rachel and I looked around a bit, then found some menus and perused the assortment of Americanized meals. I was thrilled by the options! There were salads, pasta dishes, PESTO, sandwiches garnished by all of my favorite cheeses, chicken paninis, bacon, and even cocktails! Needless to say, I thought I was back in America and both my heart and stomach were quite pleased. My appetite is piquing just thinking about it! I described each of the dinner options to Rachel more thoroughly, made my recommendations and placed my order. I got a chicken panini with mozz cheese, accompanied by a side salad and fries. Can’t forget the White Sangria! Rachel ordered her turkey and goat cheese toastie—with all of the accoutrements of course—before we each grabbed a book and settled into some cozy chairs. She picked up a few books about China and the environment and I grabbed Women, Sexuality and the Political Power of Pleasure. Armed with books of interest, we got to reading while we waited for our meals.
Later, after we had finished, Rachel and I wandered into the main room of The Bookworm and settled into a centrally-located table for the Green Drinks event. It wasn’t long before we started meeting new friends! The first to make our acquaintances was Justin, a young Taiwanese guy who is studying history at University of Chicago and recently studied abroad in Paris, France. Justin is interning at an environmental company this summer as well, although he just started on Monday of this week. Such the newbie! After Justin we met a bunch of others, too! There was Brynie, a UK-born English teacher to local professionals who has been in Beijing for nearly two years; Rupert, an urban planner from New Zealand who was on his fifth trip to Beijing; Elliot, a grad student at NYU studying urban planning (side note—Elliot was an exact replica, save the brown hair, of Alec who I met in India last year, complete with the blue button down and semi-baggy jeans!); a German-born Chinese girl named Christine (I think) who was two weeks new to Beijing and had just graduated college in the UK! I also got a chance to chat with Mia, the host of the event who is a recent high school grad and has been volunteering with Greening the Beige for the past three years. We spoke before her presentation and she promised to catch up with me later on to talk about potential partnerships between our respective companies. I felt like such a professional, it was great! There were, of course, so many others as well but it became hard to keep track.
After all of the chatting and repeated introductions, we all quieted down and the presentation began. I knew the talk would be great, but I also didn’t want to stop talking to Christine about my time abroad! Living in Germany, she of course had been to the Netherlands and a bunch of the neighboring areas and we were able to share some great travel stories! Anyway, Mia began her PPT and told us all about her work with Greening the Beige. It was great! In order to promote the cause and spread the “green” word, Mia’s organization holds a lot of green-art events. GtB, as it is typically called, sponsors local art events where artists create work out of recycled goods (just like the “trashion show” we want to do with our program!). So cool! They also do fundraising events, one of which was headed by Mia last year as she cycled from Beijing to Tibet, raising money by carrying the flags of various sponsor and taking pictures with them on mountains along the way. The organization’s current fundraiser is working to raise money through an IndieGoGo, raising money to support an Australian artist who will come to Beijing soon to collaborate with the company on a few projects. Mia went on to talk about the changes GtB is making in and around the area, while also putting a large emphasis on the way the organization has helped her grow as an individual and young leader.
After the presentation, we chatted a bit more about GtB, Zinch and how our two companies could work together to produce something great. Later today I will craft an email to send along to Mia to be forwarded to her bosses. I am so thankful that we met! Mia will be attending Wesleyan College in the fall and I promised to keep in touch with her so we could meet up one day soon (in the US this time!) and chat about our shared love of the liberal arts education. Overall, our time at The Bookworm was a great one! We met so many new faces, made some great connections and also made a potential business partnership for our green cause. Rachel and I got some email addresses and exchanged numbers with many people there, too. I think that Green Drinks is definitely a platform that Zinch could utilize in the future to promote the current project as it moves further along in the developmental stages or even after it fully takes flight. I am so proud of the work we are doing and it deserves to be showcased!
This weekend I did something no one else in my family has ever had the chance to do…I climbed the Great Wall of China at Badaling! I have to say, it was quite the experience. My host, Joey, knew that my colleagues were taking me out and about within the area and he wanted to be sure that I saw sites farther away too. He set me up with some of his friends and we were on our way!
The day of our climb, I woke up just before six a.m. I showered; dressed; lathered on the sun block on my face, shoulders and tattooed foot; slipped on my favorite sandals (no sneakers for this lady!) and grabbed some steamed buns for the road! Joey walked with me to the subway and we took it together to the end of the line to meet his friends. We wandered around the huge North Station, but the crowds were larger than ever. Such a popular day to go to the Great Wall! Once we found the group, we purchased tickets (only six Yuan per person for roundtrip tickets to the wall!) and got in line. The train was set to arrive two hours after we had arrived, but this only meant that we should have been in line forever ago. The Chinese seem to love and hate their various modes of public transport and the line for the train was already hundreds of people deep. Joey waited a bit longer with us but I think the heat was getting to him so he left to head back home to be with this little guy. So cute!
Even despite all of the heat and pushing, the wait seemed to go rather fast. We finally moved up and into the station building, where the pushing and shoving got a bit worse. The gates opened and like a strange movie, everyone started charging toward the train that had just arrived. People were running, slipping, and seemingly going mad. I’ve never seen anything like it! Our group didn’t run but we did keep it to a steady, swift pace. We found the last available group of four open seats and took our place in the first car of the train. I chatted with my new friends a bit until I fell asleep. Next thing I knew, “Little Chief” was waking me up. We had arrived at Badaling!
Pictures are worth so many words, as we all know. I’m going to let the below pictures speak for themselves when it comes to describing the experience of actually climbing the wall. In short, though, the experience was amazing, difficult, tiresome, and hot. You’ll notice that the pictures from the very top of the northern wall feature us all looking thrilled to have conquered the Wall. What a great workout.
Until next time!
^^WE MADE IT, WE MADE IT!
^^Favorite picture of the day, by far.
Guess where am I posting from this week: Beijing! After arriving to Beijing I had little time to get settled in before jumping into the work grind.
I got to Beijing on Sunday the 30th and had work the very next day. To prep for my busy week, I unpacked just a bit before taking a much needed shower and nap. I was woken up later on by lots of voices in the kitchen area of Joey and Mary’s apartment. Joey’s friends were over, almost ready to leave for dinner! I got up and fixed my dress and hair, and was ready to head out! The group of eight or so of us went to a traditional Kung Pao kitchen. My first experience at that! I have to say, it was quite the welcome–I loved every minute of it! We all had great conversation and it gave me an opportunity to learn a bit more about my hosts and their friends, not to mention their great tastes in food! We started the meal off with a great Cabernet followed by some great dishes and later on some beer. I even tried duck for the first time!
After our dinner was over and I said goodbye to my new friends, Joey took me to the market to buy some new things before heading home for a long night’s rest before week. I was so tired that I went to bed way earlier than I should have, and woke right in time to hop into the shower and get ready for my first day of work!
Following a great first night in Beijing, my first week flew by! It was full of work and adventures, new friends and new food. I couldn’t be happier with how my summer experience has panned out thus far–and I am only nearing the middle of it! This week alone I have visited two Chinese national monuments, Olympic Park and Summer Palace; traveled to an international junior/senior high school; and learned everything there is to learn about launching a new recycling program. The latter encompasses the beginning stages of my intern project here at Zinch China, but more on that later.
Below are some great photos of the outings I took on Tuesday and Wednesday. The scenes were amazing, to say the least! I just got back from a day at the Great Wall of China, so expect some photos of that next!
The time between when I left Bonnie’s house in Petaluma, CA and when I arrived at Joey’s apartment in Beijing must have totaled over 24 hours. The journey was long, but well worth it. I left Bonnie’s house at 6:20pm on Friday night, planning to arrive to the Petaluma Fairgrounds soon after to board a 6:30pm bus to the airport. We were scheduled to arrive at 8:15pm, giving me just the right amount of time to check in and go through security for my 10:35pm flight. Everything was going according to schedule. In fact, the bus got us to the airport a solid half hour early, so when I saw the unbelievably long line to check in with Philippine airlines I knew everything would be alright.
Once I finished checking in and asking all of my questions, I was told that boarding wasn’t happening for a while, and to make sure I was back to my gate by 10:30pm. This, of course, surprised me, since our flight was set to take off five minutes after that. I asked, and much to my surprise was told that our stop in Guam was canceled and so our flight would take off around 11:20pm instead, getting us to the Philippines well before we were scheduled to arrive. Being ahead of schedule is typically great, especially on international flights, but the time changes only meant I would be sitting in the Philippine airport for over three hours instead of a simple two. Little did I know what would happen when I sat down at the laptop charging station near to gate N1…
The Philippine airport was something of a movie scene, and not a great one. Upon arrival, we were all pushed into a waiting area and not given much instruction. People were laying on couches, huddled in corners, and sitting along the floor. I had no idea what was happening. Then, one of the attendants told us that ten people could follow the security guard, and none of us could hold Chinese passports. I rushed in line with the others, unsure of where I would be taken but happy to leave the silent waiting room.
A young guard led us out of the room. We all walked silently until a man behind me asked where we were being taken. We were all rather confused, and it felt as though we were prisoners unaware of our crimes. Needless to say, the Philippines and I were not friends at that very moment.
After having our documents cleared and being checked off of a long list of visitors to the airport, we were able to disperse to our respective gates. I satfor a while, chatting with a California native who had just graduated college and was headed to Jakarta, Indonesia to teach English for a year. Such an amazing opportunity! The program, called Isaac, is an internship that works with her school to recruit students domestically while others are recruited abroad. The opportunity sounded amazing and I am so excited for her. Here’s to hoping she is safe and settled in Indonesia!
After speaking with my new friend she went off to find her terminal and gate while I went to hook up my laptop at the charging station. There, I met Keith, a law professor at the American Language University. Keith was headed to Shenzhen, a city in southern China near to Hong Kong–after a 12 hour layover in the airport. During our time at the charging station we shared stories of our trips and learned lots about each other. In his 44 years, Keith has traveled to over 20 countries, started a few businesses, launched a few schools (one of which is a law school that will be fully accredited in the next year or so), and become an assemblyman for his area of the US. What a resume! Keith told me he was impressed by ME, though, and that he has never done anything nearly as important as what I am currently doing. What a compliment! He gave me much advice for the future, and told me to never, ever let my emotions get the best of me. He recommended taking every opportunity I can, and to be sure to be the leader that I am in life. Thanks, Keith!
After a lengthy chat and several more delays in the airport, I was on my way to Beijing on a much smaller plane than the first (row 5 as opposed to row 95 on the second floor)! I could not have been happier to be one step closer to my destination.
Here are a few snapshots of my first moments in China. More to come soon!
Before I even realized it, my time in San Francisco was over. I wish it never had to end, honestly! Although it of course seems as though so many things happened that last week in the U.S., I am now in Beijing and am eager to begin posting about that as well. This post will be just a bit shorter than normal, then, so I can get posting on all of the exciting things that have been going on around here! On, and as a quick FYI—for those of you I am friends with, my Facebook account is not accessible from my location in China. I was told that I could access it if I really, really needed to, but the process would be a hassle and the site would run very slow. Needless to say, I won’t be on there for the next few weeks (unless can get on from my office!). Contact me via Skype, e-mail, or my blog please!
Anyway, here comes the recap! I’ll post it mainly in short, quick sentences or paragraphs so as to get straight to the point. Look for some fun pictures at the end, as well!!
- Monday was sort of awful because it was the day I had to say goodbye to Rob. Although Rob and I didn’t work very closely together, we carpooled to work quite often and so we spent a lot of time discussing anything from family, travel, or Demi Lovato. Rob was always a really great hang. Our goodbye was strange and awkward as neither of us knew what to say. Word for word, I told him “Thanks for being my friend and for driving me around.” How silly! I wish I had come up with something better to say for myself and in regards to how much I really did appreciate everything Rob had done for me for the past two weeks, but those were the words that came to mind. Afterwards, we hugged and promised to keep in touch.
- Mall time with Jamie! It was so nice to go back to the mall—this time with intern Jamie who I’ve become close with—and see SF at its prime. We even got free Godiva Chocolate and I learned how to use Bart after!
- Tuesday was full of busy preparations to ready ourselves and the others for our visiting high school students. Although the other Annie was out-of-office, I did my best to communicate with her and Oliver to be sure that I had everything in order for the following day. I couldn’t believe that it was finally time for our focus groups!
- Once I got all of my scheduling work done I was able to leave work early and get to Body Manipulations earlier than scheduled to finish my tattoo. So exciting!
- Focus groups all day! All day, son, all day! (Imagine this being recited by Shmidt, from New Girl. So great!!)
Thursday: The prince is coming, the prince is coming!
- Today, His Royal Highness Prince Andrew the Duke of York visited the Chegg HQ in Santa Clara. His mini-tour of the Silicon Valley included a stop at Google, Apple, and Twitter in addition to a visit with us. Unfortunately, I was at the SF office while he was at the SC one, but I heard great things about it. HR even set up to have tea and scones in the Quad to welcome him!
- Although having HRH at work was a huge deal, it was also a big day because it was my last day at the office in SF…but hopefully not forever! I was able to catch a ride back to my apartment with Annie number one and Michelle at the end of the day, but not before a round of goodbyes!
- Before I left SF, I needed to get some big things out of the way. Here’s how it all played out!
- One last morning with Bonnie (after one last night out with Bonnie, of course)
- Tossing the Thai chicken
- Dishes (Bonnie is a dish-washing master)
- Dropping the keys in the mail slot
- Flat tire on the freeway
- Getting in trouble with the law (Apparently you shouldn’t pull over in the middle of the highway, next to the divider? Always stay to the right, kids!)
- Buying vending machine goodies at a mechanic
- One last burrito!
- Bodega Head
- The pacific!
- Letting Ganesh (my tattoo) see the pacific
- Laundry & frantic packing
- Catching the bus to the airport!
I didn’t take pictures all along the way, but check out some great shots from Friday afternoon!