I truly believe that in order to change or grow, you really need to break out of your comfort zones. Being well travelled has definitely aided my personal growth. Travel is one thing, however, when moving to China and setting up my life here, I realized that a lot more growth was needed.
Relocating to China as well as founding a company here has taught me so much, and the journey continues. This experience has taught me tolerance, patience and understanding. As the saying goes, “Everyone wants to be heard, but no one is willing to listen." Listening is key to understanding.
One of the biggest lessons I have learned and always tell students who come to China for our programs is to never compare the differences here to what you know back home. Start your journey with an open mind and understanding, and you'll enjoy the experience.
I’m always very observant when we have a new group of students whose change we have to gauge throughout our programs. Especially being in China, most students have never ventured here before, so it’s a completely foreign experience for them, and sometimes a shock. We take this very seriously at SSi, and always strive to put our students at ease if they have concerns.
I had a student from the USA join one of our Adventure Mobility programs, and I could tell he was a bit apprehensive at first, with the initial culture shock of China. By the end of the program, he said to me, "I never thought I would have an experience that could allow my mind to be opened so much.”
Personally, these are the moments that make it all worth it for me.
Our Internship Program and Adventure Mobility Program are designed for different experiences and outcomes, so I choose both of them!
The thing I love about our Internship Program is the length of time it gives students to experience Shanghai and China. It’s always exciting to watch the change in confidence and independence of the students as well as in their attitudes/behaviors.
On the other hand, I love the short-term intensiveness of our Adventure Mobility Program. It allows students to experience something completely out of their comfort zones, gain academic insight, and of course travel and adventure! Camping and trekking along the GREAT Wall is one of my favorite adventures.
What makes SSi unique is we have a niche concept which is sustainability and measuring positive social impact through our alumni and their future steps after our programs. Our models are about stepping outside the classroom and providing a practical application to learning across all of our programs.
Each person on our team has had either an international internship and/or an enriching study abroad experience, and with a sustainability background or interest. I think this really conveys to our students and partners.
It’s a combination of multiple factors. For me personally, it is understanding our students’ needs, and also delivering on your services and products.
We are also very selective with our team. Creating the right dynamics and aligning SSi's visions and values with our team members and conveying them to our students is crucial to our success.