With the engines roaring powerfully outside the tiny airplane cabin window, I made the first step of our journey, crossing the boundless Pacific Ocean to the United States of America on the opposite side of the world.
After more than 12 hours flying, we landed in the San Jose International Airport around noon local time. I was neither hungry nor sleepy. Instead, the only feeling I had was a sense of freshness and curiosity. I couldn’t wait to start exploring this new and interesting land!
My summer session began on the third day after my arrival at the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley). The course I enrolled in this summer was a social sciences course called Peace and Conflict Studies (PACS).
The instructor was an elegant and knowledgeable older woman, Professor Beth Roy, a longtime mediator and radical therapist. Most of the students attending the class were international, including Swiss, German, Vietnamese, Japanese, as well as some peers from China. Some local American students from UC Berkeley enrolled in this course as well. The course aimed at helping students master skills for conflict resolution, especially mediation, in the context of theories of power and culture. Much of the learning was experientially based, drawing on media, case histories, exercises, class activities, group work, and most importantly, role playing. In class, we discussed a lot, tried a lot, experienced a lot, and explored a lot. Some stories of what happened during the lessons left a very deep impression in my mind.
I will never forget what happened on the first day of the class, where all of the students were asked to stand in a circle, and our kind professor called out several keywords. If anybody thought these words could describe him or herself, then they were to go to the center of the circle. This activity was undoubtedly a great way for students to get familiar with the others in very short time. And I did very quickly find many similarities and differences between my classmates and me.
Another memorable experience occurred at the very end of the course. The final part of that day’s class was to give ‘strokes’, or pay compliments. Our class was suggested to do this in an extremely special way, where everyone in class stuck a piece of paper on their back. Others could write down any words they wanted on each other’s paper. It was quite interesting and exciting way to complement each other in this way, because you didn’t know who was writing what on your back. You could only view all the ‘strokes’ you received after the entire process was completed. Personally, I did receive a lot of inspiring encouragement and sincere praise from both my peers and professor that day. And I would sparingly keep that paper with those warm and motivating words to memorize the happy and unforgettable experiences I had in the PACS course.
Time passed so fast, and our summer session at UC Berkeley came to the end. It was the time for us to return to the embrace of China. Physically I am on the way to my dear motherland, but my days in Berkeley will never be erased from my mind. I enjoyed the opportunity to study at Berkeley, take classes with such an excellent professor and peers from all over the world and experience the openness and diverse culture of the Bay Area. This summer, I learned a lot and I harvested a lot.
The funds for my trip to the States mainly comes from my parents; meanwhile Amgen China as well as ShanghaiTech University do provide many supports for this exchange program. Therefore, I would very like to take this opportunity to extend my gratitude to Amgen China and ShanghaiTech University for offering me the international exchange scholarship to financially support me to participate in such a fabulous program. Amgen is a multinational biopharmaceutical company, known as the world's largest independent biotechnology firm with huge potential. And it’s my privilege, as a undergraduate from ShanghaiTech, to share the similar research directions with Amgen. Hope in the near future, with my great efforts, I could have precious opportunity to take part in some collaboration works with Amgen and expose myself to a greater number of demanding science researches and lab works to remain dazzled by the discoveries yet to be made.
See you, Berkeley; see you, my days in the States!