Arti Krishna - General Business Projects in China
My trip to Shanghai was full of wonderful and amazing experiences and my inhibitions quickly dissipated.
On arriving at Pudong airport, I was anxious that I might not recognise the Projects Abroad staff (or vice versa) or that they may have thought I had missed my flight or wasn't coming, due to the fact that it took me 45 minutes to get through immigration. I needn't have worried, as I later found out, because the reliability of Projects Abroad is astounding and I was told that they would have waited as long as it took for me to come through unless they had heard that I wasn't going to make it.
I was fortunate enough to be located in a pleasant, air-conditioned flat very close to the Projects Abroad office, the metro station and a comprehensive supermarket. I was shown the local restaurant (which served a range of delicious Chinese dishes), given a tour of the supermarket and taught how to use the metro card and get to work. Any questions I had or problems I encountered were dealt with efficiently and during the six weeks I spent in Shanghai the relationship between some Projects Abroad staff members and myself became more of a friendship than a working relationship.
This warmth and familiarity between people was also evident in my work placement.Working with Sunnybund Consulting was fascinating and gave me an insight into the cultural differences between the East and the West in more than one way.
I witnessed the day-to-day workings of a PR company and their methods of dealing with problems - quite different to the ones I am used to. Internal communication in the company was somewhat problematic at times, but I quickly learned to double check things had been understood and made sure I passed on the relevant information to the appropriate people. When things went wrong, I noticed the Chinese people sort them out and carry on, rather than agonising over whose fault it was. Moreover, they are forgiving and patient. You could always ask about anything, no matter how trivial, without getting the evil eye for wasting someone's time. My colleagues were both open-minded and perceptive, accepting new ideas and explaining their practices.
In addition to my Chinese friends, I made the acquaintance of a number of other volunteers from all sorts of backgrounds, some of whom joined me in Beijing after my placement had ended and all of whom helped to make my summer one of the most enjoyable times I have ever had.