Experiencing my Ancestors homeland; Guangzhou

I have always been an active student in Sydney, I am currently a City of Sydney International Student Ambassador. When I heard about the UTS: BUiLD summer program in China it was a no brainer for me to take the chance. Fortunate enough I was granted the Chau Chak Wing scholarship that funded my study at Sun Yat-sen – a major university in Guangzhou.

My parents are Chinese from Guangzhou however I was born and grown up in Vietnam. I had never been to China before so this trip had many emotion and meaningful for me. Not only it is a learning opportunity to explore the Chinese’s dynamic culture, it is also a chance for me to live in and get to know the city where my ancestors came from, where I might had spent my childhood.

Despite growing up from Vietnam I speak fluent Mandarin and Cantonese so upon arrival Guangzhou felt like home to me. There was almost 90 students from all parts of the world participated in this summer program. It was a very diversity and fun group of people. We spent three weeks learning and exploring the culture, everyday was full of challenges and excitements, everyday we discovered new destinations, everyday we learnt a little bit more about each other’s background and culture.

In a subject I enrolled in Chinese Business I learnt how to do business with the Chinese. I learnt about the importance of “giving faces”; when a “let me think about it” means no; where a men wearing a green hat means his wife is having an affair; and also understanding the cultural different markets that needs to be advertised differently in order to success and many more. All of which enriched my experience about the business world in China and the communication style.

Aside study, the university organised a Guangzhou one day tour and a two day cultural visit to Foshan – Shunde which happened to be the hometown of the famous martial art legendary Bruce Lee. This is where learning gets into practice where I got to visit ancient architectures, temples, houses where the nobles lived that I had been watching from TV since I was little. I also visited the Bruce Lee memorial, Bruce Lee’s master – Yip Man memorial – a brilliant Wing Chun master.

I was the only UTS student and the only foreigner who studied the subject Taiwan – Hongkong – Macau Business which was taught in Chinese. Here I learnt about the three territories where same language is spoken but yet very different. Everyday different senior lectures gave us an insight into Taiwan – Hongkong – Macau economical, cultural and political revolution. It was overwhelmed and an absolute mind opener for me.
In this summer program I met many people that left me an unforgettable impression, I met a middle aged business lecturer from New Mexico whose eager and curiosity took her cross ocean to China, just to hear stories told by the Chinese; I met an Australian born Hong Kong girl who has immense passion about Asian countries; I met a French gentleman who speaks 7 languages and will never stop learning; I met an American girl who is allergic to dust and plan to leave her foot mark on every Asian countries, and I guess properly every corner of the world; I met many UTS students from various faculty who had joined many similar BUiLD programs who guided me on how to make the most of this experience.

The last day of the program was a tearful day for many of us, the awkwardness on day one had gone without notice, in three weeks we had been through a lot together: car sick, disgusting food, nasty traffic, love stories, cultural shock and so on. It was hard to say goodbye to friends who you know this might be the last time you see them in person. But this is life. UTS BUiLD had offered me this life time experience to explore “my supposed to hometown”, to be exposed to a new environment, to make global friendship and I am greatly thankful for it.

Will I go for the next adventure? It is a no brainer.

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