Evaporating fears; Learning Chinese at Sun Yat-sen

Before completing this summer program at Sun Yat-sen University in China I felt that I would spend a lot of time studying business and language and not enough time experience China. Looking at the class timetable I felt that I did not have the time to put what I had learnt into practice. These fears however were evaporated upon my arrival at the university. We as students were allowed plenty of time to explore the city and practice our Mandarin Chinese skills to the locals. Additionally, the aid of having the buddy program at the university meant that we had English speaking Chinese students who could help us further in our language studies and who could further explain Chinese business thinking and culture. We all left this program with a better rounded understanding of contemporary China and the Chinese.

Additionally, prior to the course I felt that many of the students may not have much in common with eachother. This however was far from the case by having 15 UTS students. All of the other students in the course either came alone or in a pair of two, hence making friends and feeling a sense of belonging was far easier for the UTS students than it was for the others. By far the best thing on this course was due to the fact that there were so many UTS students. Moreover, all of the UTS students got on very well together. We were also very kind at ingratiating all of the other students, making sure that everyone was always invited to join us to where we would go out to. Additionally, having such a large group of UTS students made it easier for us to practice Mandarin together and write out group assignments, something we had to do in the final week.

This course was great fun and very informative. We all befriended many of the expats in the city of Guangzhou, making very useful and lasting connections between UTS and China. Sun Yat-sen University is also China’s most prestigious business university and so it is very useful to mention that I studied there on my CV.

I will be doing an international exchange to another city in China soon and so this program has given me the confidence and ability to thrive over there. I now have a great basis for Chinese Mandarin and have a better understanding of Chinese culture and business ethics. This course has greatly helped me for my future. It was a wonderful experience which I will never forget.

Henry Birtwistle

Christchurch Festival for Transitional Architecture (FESTA)

In October 2013, BUiLD assisted 13 UTS Interior and Spatial Design students to take an international design studio subject in New Zealand at the Christchurch Festival for Transitional Architecture (FESTA).

This studio involved 2 design briefs; both looking at the same site: the Worcester St Bridge which forms the entrance to the city of Christchurch. 

The first brief was an individual project to redesign the Worcester Bridge. This bridge was the site of the first encounter between the Maori people and Europeans. The location is an enterance to what was the CBD prior the earthquake. The axis is punctuated by the museum on one end and the Cathederal on the other.

Brief two was to develop temporary architecture on Worcester Bridge as part of Free Theatre’s production of Canterbury Tales as part of FESTA (Festival of Transitional Architecture). The production involved a procession of oversized puppets visiting sites. The students’ site was the disaster; the earthquake. It was a 2 days festival, with the procession planned for both nights. The design had be visible and engaging in daylight and at night.

You can read more about the Christchurch FESTA Design Studio, see images and ideas from the trip on the blog created by the students. 

Design studio1 

Harvard Project for Asian & International Relations Conference – Dubai 2013

Sayed 3

21/08/13 – 10:08am (Sydney):  What a start to the first international flight that I have had since I have come to Australia.  Forgotten my flight ticket in my brother’s car, was just the start. But I was expecting and hoping more adventure than just forgetting my ticket. That surely can’t be the only obstacle and it would’ve never been a deterrent for me!

(Dubai)

Our first speaker for the night was Dr. Lance E. De Masi who is the president of the American University in Dubai. He warmly welcomed us with his honorific linguistic and prompted us to strife and keep going in order to bring change to the world. He spoke very eloquently about the nature of youth conferences by stating:

“Youth are the candidates of change, the real change for the world ahead. So go on, and strife to your maximum potential for you are capable to do so!”

Day two started with the Business Plenary.  It was an a very informative and inspiring session.  Packed in the magnificent Mezzanine floor of the JW Marriott Marquis, the 500 delegates were delighted and enlightened by the expertise and awed by the knowledge of the honourable presenters. Notably the last speaker for the business plenary, Mr. Akbar Jaffar, the CEO of JEFCON group gave an alternate perspective on entrepreneurship. He challenged the mainstream perspective on happiness, stating;“dissatisfaction produces innovation… unless you are unhappy, you are not going to move!” He pushed us to think beyond the realm of happiness, and see ourselves us entrepreneurs who can ‘take ideas from the book, and is able to implement it through the efforts of their persistence.’ Indeed his smile and laughing character veiled a successful entrepreneur whose success was unlimited. Enriched with experience and flawless in words and speech, he shared with us why people fail in entrepreneurship:

“The way to fail in entrepreneurship is to turn yourself from an entrepreneur into a business manager. If you are an entrepreneur, leave the managing to someone else!” 

– Sayed travelled on a UTS:BUiLD General Travel Grant to the United Arab Emirates for the 2013 Harvard Project for Asian & International Relations Conference

This is an excerpt from Sayed’s blog about his experiences in Dubai during the conference. Visit his blog to read more.

Sayed 1

Settling into the Maldives

I was privileged to be among eight female students, between the ages of 18-29 years, from the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), whom were delegated by our University’s leadership Society called BUiLD (Beyond University in Leadership and Development) to live and work in Maroshi, Maldives for three weeks, June to July 2013.

….

I received the call from BUiLD one day on my way from a volunteering commitment in Fairfield where I was working with Microsoft to empower students at the high school in the community. For weeks I have been waiting for this, a burst of excitement took over me for the next weeks leading up to the day of departure. With a mountain of questions, preceded by ‘How foreign it is from Jamaica – my home country, I prepared myself through internet research, interrogating my flatmate who has been on BUiLD programs to China and India, and a more helpful Facebook group setup by BUiLD specifically for UTS student volunteers to the Maldives.

This online group space created a direct link with the coordinator of Volunteer Maldives and former volunteers sharing tips and experiences, to better prepare for the departure. It also allowed me to informally meet the other volunteers – ahead of the official pre-departure meeting; plan our trip together by deciding what to bring as gifts and clothing for a new and very conservative religious culture – some of which quelled our expectations particularly for swim wear.

With limited time to prepare I shopped for clothing that fit the culture – long sleeve, loose fitted blouses and skirts, which couldn’t be found in my closet. I have never been to an Islamic country before so I planned for total cultural immersion. I brought along some headscarves that I hadn’t yet worn, which I was gifted by a former flatmate, and as gifts I bought items in the souvenir shops in Market City and also items that I received from attending several  events at UTS and others in Australia.

This trip opened a lot of firsts for me. It was my first time leaving Australia for a country other than Jamaica; it was my first time travelling through the beautiful and eco-friendly Changi Airport, Singapore – where I was happy to see a billboard of my countryman and the fastest man alive – Usain Bolt. And it was my first time going being on a BUiLD overseas program that will help me to improve my leadership skills. At this point I way filled with curiosity, what to expect, how will we be received by the school and the community, what does the school want to learn from me, what do I have to offer.

It was also my first time travelling on a seaplane, courtesy of Trans Maldivian. This flight is the most thrilling one I’ve been on: I was in awe when passing over the islands of the Maldives. The natural beauty of the islands of various shapes, sizes and colours (blue, green, brown) had me taking pictures and making recordings while moving from both sides of the plane, luckily it wasn’t a full flight. Then to my dismay, the camera battery died too early and so the rest is forced to memory.

Tanisha – Community Development and Remote Education in the Maldives, July 213

This is an excerpt from Tanisha’s blog TanishaLewis . Check it out to read more about her experience in the Maldives on the Community Development and Remote Education in the Maldives Program. 

Tanisha - Maldives arrival

We received a warm welcome from the staff and was given a reception package that included an official Maldives travel information pack, Bag and T-Shirt with each of our names imprinted on them, from Volunteer Maldives.
We received a warm welcome from the staff and was given a reception package that included an official Maldives travel information pack, Bag and T-Shirt with each of our names imprinted on them, from Volunteer Maldives.

Surviving in the jungle in Malaysia

Apart of the UTM SS14 Sustainable Technologies for Agro waste Management Summer School, UTS BUILD student who have travelled to Malaysia to undertake the course were given the mission of taking on the Jungle known to all as the 248 million-years-old lowland tropical rainforest in Malaysia.

The intensive 3 day and 2 night survival pushed the class to the upper limits of man, testing everyone’s physical strength and inner beast.

Sergio, Sustainable Technologies for Agro-waste Management Summer School, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, July 2013 

We have just left the last town which means no more phone reception to call our loved ones, the UTM representative asked us to call our parents one last time encase “we don’t make it back”. Riding in the back of the 4WD is like being on an exotic safari trip, the Malaysian jungle where tigers rule.
We have just left the last town which means no more phone reception to call our loved ones, the UTM representative asked us to call our parents one last time encase “we don’t make it back”. Riding in the back of the 4WD is like being on an exotic safari trip, the Malaysian jungle where tigers rule.

The Rain forest on the way to base camp is so thick and dense, this is what you would expect from a habitat which is situated so close to the equator with high rain fall events. The trees are much taller than what exist in Australia.
The Rain forest on the way to base camp is so thick and dense, this is what you would expect from a habitat which is situated so close to the equator with high rain fall events. The trees are much taller than what exist in Australia.

A small group of men were commissioned to go hunting for fish and brought back this large frog which is considered a delicacy, the local indigenous assistants sell these frogs to restaurants, for that reason it did not end up on the fire.
A small group of men were commissioned to go hunting for fish and brought back this large frog which is considered a delicacy, the local indigenous assistants sell these frogs to restaurants, for that reason it did not end up on the fire.

The group of local buddies are also playing traditional games; the rate of cheating is very high in this game so a close eye needs to be kept on the game at all times.
The group of local buddies are also playing traditional games; the rate of cheating is very high in this game so a close eye needs to be kept on the game at all times.