How Interning in Shanghai is Already Changing my Perspective

Jun 14, 2019 11:24:00 AM / by Absa Samba

Known for striking a balance between history and modernity, Shanghai serves as a good place to explore a new culture while navigating the language barrier. Through her internship in Shanghai with CAPA, Absa Samba, a Freeman Grant Scholarship recipient and Champlain College student, has been able to learn more about the Chinese culture and city infrastructure. Check out why she's determined to keep an open mind and grow more as an individual this summer!

It’s been two weeks since I arrived in China, and it's been a thrilling experience so far. I spent most of the time immersing myself in the new environment, learning to navigate the city, taking a survival Mandarin class, and meeting new colleagues at my internship. I’m interning at Atelier QuaoMai—Suzhou’s famous Taohuaeu New Year Woodblock Prints. Atelier QuaoMai makes woodblock prints that are widely recognized in China especially during the New Year. As an intern, I will be helping QuaoMai expand its market within and beyond China. I am very excited about the opportunity to explore and learn something new.

Champlain College Freeman Scholars First Day in Shanghai Champlain College Freeman Scholars first day in Shanghai.

Being awarded the Freeman Grant Scholarship was the most exciting thing that happened to me this summer because it allowed me to come to Shanghai, gain international work experience, and learn a new language. As a freeman scholar, I’m able to explore the infrastructure, the people, and the history through the CAPA program.

People Square in ShanghaiPeople's Square in Shanghai.

The Shanghai summer program has pushed my cultural awareness, as I recognize daily just how different and diverse the world is. Some of the most impactful experiences include the following: trying to navigate the city with the language barrier, being in an environment that challenges my values daily, and constantly having people stick their cameras in my face as a tall black woman in Shanghai with dreadlocks. I am an exotic novelty. :)

Street Dancers at Shanghai’s People SquareStreet performance in people’s square.

As a person who believes and promotes democracy, it is quite frustrating to be in a place where the democratic value is frowned upon. Yet, these challenges have made me realize the need to keep an open mind, to keep questioning and be tolerant of the diverse beliefs and ways of life. The two weeks that I have been in Shanghai has made me realize that the world and people are very complex. I also recognized that there is so much to learn and appreciate in order to grow as an individual.

Sunset view from Changfeng ParkSunset view from Changfeng Park.

Even though, Shanghai has its own challenges, the city offers an amazing learning experience through its beauty and advancement. As a former fishing village, the city has transformed into a global power hub with a very modern infrastructure and emerging industries that are competing more and more in the global technology market. The city has experienced major cultural and urban development over the years.

The Bund - China’s financial districtThe BundChina’s financial district.

Shanghai is the most westernized city in China today and a key decision maker in the world. China is expanding its global influence across the world and strengthening its position. Being in Shanghai means an opportunity to explore and learn China’s advancement processes. There’s no better place to learn this than China itself.

Thanks, Absa!

Absa Samba


Absa Samba is an official CAPA blogger for summer 2019, sharing her story in recurring posts on CAPA World. A Social Work major at Champlain College, she is studying abroad in Shanghai on a custom program with CAPA and Champlain College this semester.

Absa's journey continues all semester so stay tuned.

Learn More about the CAPA Shanghai Program

Topics: Shanghai, China, Internships Abroad