Student Stories, GRIP, Internships Abroad

Unity in Diversity

December 30, 2018
By Cristina Pogorevici, Wharton '21

GRIP Intern, The OPEN Classroom - Hong Kong 

As a Romanian student in the Wharton School of Business, I'm always a minority: East-European, First Generation, coming from an ex-communist country. As an intern at The OPEN Classroom in Hong Kong I was aware that once again I was going to feel like a drop of water in the big blue ocean. But that didn't stop me from packing my bags and booking my flight, because I knew that internship experiences are about discovering yourself.

While diligently scrolling Facebook in my second week in Hong Kong, I accidentally stumbled upon a meeting of the Romanian community. About 20 people from the 8 million population, sharing the same culture, music, and language. That evening, I was home; I was with my people. In a bar on the 25th floor surrounded by the heavy rains of tropical monsoon, 20 people were singing and discussing in the best way possible. For a few hours, the Hong Kong business district and its spectacular views disappeared under the magic of Romanian stories and jokes. Wearing the Romanian traditional blouses ("IE") all women shared the journey of how the ended up on this side of the world. I was the youngest, wearing my mother's white & blue IE, and I immediately felt the care of the people surrounding me.
 
Hong Kong is such a diverse city- Chinese and British, a mix of world-wide top financial companies and fisherman, mountain jungle and South China sea with skyscrapers in between. Within this ocean of nations and people, I clearly felt that I belong among Romanians. I felt proud and safe. But, I also felt like I belonged in Hong Kong. The vibrant streets, the pristine beaches, the carefully paved hikes, the boat trips between islands and the perfect summer temperature (even though most of my friends would disagree with the last one). Hong Kong is, for me, the definition of "Unity in Diversity".

So, next time you're abroad and feel disconnected from your culture, reach out to others from the same country, state or culture as you! It's so easy and it can change your whole experience in that place!

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The Global Research and Internship Program (GRIP) provides outstanding undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to intern or conduct research abroad for 8 to 12 weeks over the summer. Participants gain career-enhancing experience and global exposure that is essential in a global workforce. Placements and funding awards are available.

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Student Stories, GRIP, Internships Abroad
by Rachel Hong, CAS '20