By Anthony Brown, Bioenvironmental Engineering
In the Summer of 2011, the International Scholar Laureate Program (ISLP) Delegation brought together over 130 engineering students from around the world to China. The 10-day trip introduced students from various countries to China’s rich culture and its career opportunities. Engineers from South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, and Canada were among the many represented in the program.
The trip’s busy schedule had us shuffling in and out of buses, planes, and trains as we visited China’s national treasures, universities, and industrial complexes. As we made our way down the eastern coast of China, from Beijing to Shanghai, the other students and I compared China’s cultural aspects, architectural styles, and city planning to that of our respective countries. While the detailed itinerary provided dress codes for given occasion, we were free to make our own plans at the end of the day, though we were always expected to be awake and on time for all events the following morning.
During the trip, we received lectures from deans, project managers, and business owners who informed us about some of China’s greatest successes in engineering. For every speaker, we
were given a question and answer session. This gave students with interest in a specific area the opportunity to talk with a professional in that field.
Throughout the trip we often reconvened to discuss our daily activities in order to fully understandand appreciate various aspects of China. The diversity in our group elicited a lot of different interests and opinions. Our group discussions evolved from small conversations to a group project called, “Project Collaborative” where we produced a presentation using what we had seen and heard as sources. I took a leadership role and we accomplished the task successfully.
Through the International Scholar Laureate Program I gained a solid understanding of my future position in the workforce and the value of education. I learned that I am capable of leading group activities. I learned to adjust to cultural differences, especially when language barrier is an obstacle. (The key to overcoming language barriers is to be persistent and not give up on others.) I immersed myself in a culture that interests me and left the country with an unforgettable experience.
I would encourage every student at Rutgers University to go abroad. It is worth it!