Taking an internship in Beijing is almost like getting back home, which makes my adjustment relatively easy compared to other people who are not interning in their home countries. As I have worked in Beijing for 1 year at the same district as where UNESCO is right before I came to Penn, I am more than familiar to the area around my workplace.
However, finding a living space in a mega-city like Beijing is nothing easier than in New York City. Since the average housing rental prices has increased by 10% since July, It was even harder to find a comfortable place with the same budget as before. After almost hundreds of phone calls and over 20 on-site tours, I finally decided to live in a small apartment located 5 kilometers from my workplace. The commuting time by subway is 45 minutes each way, which is reasonable in Beijing.
UNESCO Beijing is located at one of the economic zones: Beijing Central Business District (CBD). It’s part of the downtown, with most of the city’s foreign companies, professional service firms and embassies altogether. Our office is in one of the buildings in the Diplomatic Residence Compound, surrounded by many embassies such as Thailand, Brazil, Iraq, Bangladesh, and Rwanda. The entrance of our office is decorated as an ancient royal palace with two lions made of stone side by side, which represents imperial power. You can also find many elements of cultural decorations that include ethnic minorities.
Without much surprise, almost 1/3 of the staff here are interns. Most of them come from the universities in China, and some are from foreign countries. Besides me, there are 2 interns who came earlier than me in the education department, and we are expecting 3 more coming next week. Many of them are not majoring in education, so that they are not able to participate much in the education projects. Since my supervisor is on a business trip to South Korea and Japan, he will not be in the office until mid-September. Therefore, the major part of my work for the first two weeks are reading and learning about the current on-going projects, and help with any work that my colleagues are not able to complete on their own. Below is a list of work I have done in this week:
Reading UNESCO published books regarding various topics such as: “Rethinking Education: Towards a global common good?”, “Education Changes life.”, “Confronting the shadow education system–why government policies for what private tutoring?”
Selecting books on the topic of CLC (Community Learning Center) in China and sending to the Adult Education Center in Ningbo, China;
Collecting background information as references about rural aging in Asia, Europe and America for a training workshop in Suzhou, China;
Making travel plan for my supervisor to the training workshop;
Providing suggestions and collecting resources for the E-9 specific Education 2030 monitoring report.
I feel appreciated working in this team because everyone is dedicated to his/her work, and is willing to share thoughts to each other. We all eat together during the lunch break and discuss issues and opinions around education problems, although most of us are young and do not have much experience in this field, we all share the same passion and vision for better education in China and around the world. I am sure I will get more and more information and tasks in the following weeks, and I will share all my experiences here with you!