My name is Todd Waterman and I am currently completing a 6 week internship organised by InternChina. Before my internship started, InternChina arranged 2 weeks of traditional activities in an attempt to familiarise us with the culture. I found that these really helped to contribute to my understanding of the current hustle and bustle which surrounds me each day. It sounds far-fetched, but as a person who comes from a country which lacks any cultural historic significance, it was really moving to experience an actual ‘way of life’.
First of all, we have the language lessons. I had never spoken a word of Chinese before, other than the odd rude phrase taught to me by Cantonese friends. This activity for me was probably the most interesting of them all. I’ve never been one for languages, I took German at GCSE and never clicked enough with it to want to continue indefinitely. I feel somewhat differently about Mandarin. From the off-set, I think I appreciated how valuable it is with China’s economic situation sky-rocketing.
This urged me to dedicate a substantial amount of effort to the classes, and now after 30 hours of Mandarin lessons, I have expressed an interest to pay for some of my own. As a result, I have chosen to carry on my lessons until the end of the programme, and depending on my progression, into the third year of university. The past two weeks has given me the basic vocabulary, but considering Mandarin is tonal, I appreciate that I have a long way to go.
The second activities I’d like to touch on are the business talks and factory tours. In total, there were three, all of which I found exceptionally useful. The first was with Bowers & Wilkins, a company that manufactures and sells top of the range speakers. This was the first time I had witnessed an industrial environment in China and so it was fascinating to see the production line. What peaked my curiosity towards this company in particular was that a member of my family owns a Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin, and I was fully aware of the sound quality it produced. It was therefore interesting to learn about the mechanics behind the creation, and witness that creation for myself.
Another activity that really stood out for me was witnessing a professional play some Chinese instruments, and then attempting to play a few for myself. In particular, the Gu Zheng as pictured was wonderful to listen to. Once again, I am not naturally gifted with music, but there is every chance that in the near future, I will invest in a Gu Zheng and do my best to learn it. Activities such as this are the reason why I have appreciated the past two weeks so much. I would never have even known what a Gu Zheng (commonly called the Chinese piano – by me) was unless I had applied for this programme, and now I’ve fallen in love with it.
The final activity that I wish to note was the calligraphy. All I really need to say is that, once you’ve tried it, you will undoubtedly want to go out and buy a few brushes, some paper, and some oil. What is so enticing about it is that, not only is it such a predominate feature of the Chinese culture, but it is also really bloody satisfying. It’s an odd feeling, but it has made me want to explore it a little bit more.
If you’re interested in learning about Chinese culture all while getting some valuable work experience, apply here