Monday, November 19, 2012

Liz Mamo - Alumna Working Hard in China

 Liz on the weekends
 Alleyway on the way home (Nanjing)
Liz Representing USA!
Name: Liz Mamo
Major/Graduated: International Affairs concentration in Asia/May 2012
Where in China do you work: Nanjing
Describe your job and position: I am a college counseling intern at Nanjing Foreign Language School and Jinling High School. I work for an education service company called Dipont Education.
How did you get the position:
I found this job on GWork, which was surprising to me since they do not post many job positions in China asides from teaching English. I have many connections to China (my grandmother is Chinese, I lived in Shanghai 2006-2008, I studied some Mandarin while at GW), so I thought it would be exciting to return after graduation. The interview process was over Skype, and usually late at night to accommodate the 12 hour time difference. After Dipont gave me an offer, I immediately accepted. I did not want to take just any job that would land me in China; I was eager to start a job specifically involving international education. I have always been interested in cultural exchange and study abroad programs, so helping Chinese high school students apply to American colleges seemed like a good fit for me.
What do you exactly do as a "college counseling intern" and how do you like it:
As a Dipont fellow, along with my colleague Kristina, I am responsible for helping the Chinese college counselors at the two high schools in Nanjing that I am assigned to. I help advise students about which colleges and universities in the US are a good ‘fit’ for them, and guide them through the application process. Sometimes I will make presentations and hold workshops about American university-related topics such as the U.S. education system, how to approach college admissions essays, and college life in America. I also help them with their application essays, which I have found really interesting since they are all ESL (English as a Second Language) students. I could not imagine taking the SAT equivalent and writing essays in a language other than my native tongue. For this reason, I really admire my students and their bravery in applying to university abroad. I like the one-on-one counseling aspect to my job, and will hopefully find it rewarding in March when students will begin to hear back from the universities they applied to.
What is it like to live and work in Nanjing, China?
I love living and working in Nanjing. It is obviously a much smaller city than Beijing and Shanghai, but it still has all of the necessities, which to me include good foreign food options when you are tired of Chinese food, clothing markets, and a place to play tennis. Because of its smaller size (it is still about 7 million people), living downtown makes it convenient to go pretty much anywhere in the city. I am walking distance to most places of everyday importance to me, such as the schools where I work, the Nanjing equivalent of McFaddens, and Shanghai Road (“Foreigner” street) where most of my friends live.
What do you do on your free time?
After work, I am usually at my dance class (which is interesting because it is conducted entirely in Chinese), playing tennis, or meeting with my Chinese tutor. I also like to explore alleys around my neighborhood, and I try new food. I enjoy being outside, so I appreciate how Nanjing has plenty of parks, lakes and small mountains to explore. Nanjing is also a great location for weekend trips, and the bullet trains make it possible to go to seemingly far away places in a short amount of time.
What has been a memorable moment in China?
Everyday is a memorable moment in China, for one reason or another. Things that I consider very weird happen everyday here, and that is why I enjoy living here. However, the first thing that comes to mind is a moment from my recent week off where I went to a Chinese music festival. I had never been to a music festival before, and so it was interesting to camp and attend a 3-day music festival on an island in the Yangtze River. By the end of the trip I was exhausted, and wanted to go home (I call Nanjing home now ) the same night the festival was over in order to sleep in my own bed. I went back with my Chinese friend, and we boarded a train just after midnight. Unfortunately it was a slow train, and we only had ‘standing’ tickets, but we blocked out the situation with our headphones on and awaited our stop. By doing this, we incidentally missed our stop for Nanjing, so we had no choice but to get off at a random city, where once arriving, we had to pay a penalty fee for missing our stop. Unfortunately, neither my friend nor I had any available cash, so I had to wait in the police station while he went out to find an ATM. It was 3:30am by this time, and my friend had work in Nanjing the next morning. The only fast train (bullet train) would be 9am the next morning from a different train station in the random city where we got off. I slept in a KFC play area that night on my camping mat. At that moment, I realized how useful it is to carry around camping gear. I was also grateful of how often Chinese people nap, and how it was somewhat acceptable for me to be sleeping in KFC underneath a plastic slide.
How did GW help in reaching where you are now?
Well, GW directly helped me be where I am now since I found my current job off of GWork! But asides from the actual job posting, my participation in GCC and going to the OAS movie nights definitely helped keep up my interest in China.
Any last words?
There are big cultural differences between China and the U.S. One thing in particular is napping. It is normal for my colleagues to be passed out on their desks after lunch for a quick power nap.


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