Friday, June 26, 2009

Surprises at CCF

By Mona Lin,
Communications Intern

As an international student from Shanghai, China, I have attended Virginia Commonwealth University for my dual degree program since the end of August 2008. My graduate studies are in mass communications and strategic public relations. For me, however, working and applying what I have learned is what I most enjoy.

In Shanghai, I interned at an international public relations agency and participated in a student exchange program in Taiwan, working for the Public Service Television Group as a practice reporter. Now, as I embark on another adventure here in the United States, I really wanted to see how American organizations employ public relations.

Recently, nonprofit organizations have become my main interest. In fact, with China’s economy booming, and the transformation of Chinese government functions, nonprofit organizations, which are considered to be a product of Western civilization, are now becoming a reality in a country with a 5,000-year history.

For example, in China, there is the Hope Project for children living in remote areas. The Hope Project helps children who have dropped out of school return to school. We also have the China Red Cross, which operates nationwide and plays a tremendous role in various crises and natural disasters, including floods, snowstorms and the earthquake in the Sichuan province last year. Nonprofit organizations are growing fast in China and are vitally needed.

I had never imagined the connection between Christian Children’s Fund and China before I applied for my internship. I was really surprised to learn that CCF was actually founded in Northern China. I had explored the CCF Web site and found video clips of formerly sponsored children who grew up in Hong Kong.

I even met someone who could speak Chinese very well here at CCF, Ben Cohen. Ben, who is an undergraduate public relations student from the School of Mass Communications at VCU, had studied Chinese for a year at Fudan University, which happens to be my university in Shanghai, China.

Although we did not know each other, we both attended Fudan University in 2007, VCU in 2008, and now, we are both here, serving as interns at CCF! Frankly, nothing can be more thrilling than meeting someone in a foreign country who speaks your language and knows so much about your own culture.

Instead of focusing on the challenges that result from cultural differences, I am more impressed by the cultural identity that I witness here. Interning at CCF is a perfect fit for me. As well as gaining actual working experience and learning through the organizational culture, I am glad to see myself growing and transitioning from a full-time student to a part-time worker.

By accomplishing different jobs, I am discovering my real interests, which is very helpful for my future career development when I return to China. It is no wonder, therefore, that my internship here at CCF will become the most unforgettable experience during my stay in this country.

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