Qi Hong, GSAS'21, writes about how her experiences as an intern changed her life

Qi recounts the rewarding experiences and valuable lessons learned during her summer in Beijing. 

June 10, 2020

Two years ago, I finished a spring semester at Barnard College as a VISP student and came back to Beijing, China. Vaguely did I feel Barnard and Columbia had changed my life, the only sure thing for me was to maintain the connections with my friends, professors, and the community in New York City. As soon as having settled down, I immediately started my internship at Columbia Global Centers | Beijing.

Little did I know how much this six-month internship would surprise me. “Columbia Beijing Summer,” which encapsulated a wide array of events, opened up my mind and saw through my potentialities. Indeed, sustaining existing connections were vital, yet CGC Beijing helped me achieve more: here, you could, and should, meet new people, learn new skills, endeavor for new knowledge, and build new connections.

I came to know and be part of the impressively productive and well-organized team at CGC Beijing. All the employees put trust in every intern and exemplified as the walking models of prudence, intelligence, and diligence. There, if I intended to turn my thoughts into real words for publicization, I must take care of every detail of it. I still remember every time before handing in my writings to my supervisor, I must proofread every line for, say, at least three times to make sure there were no typos, no flaws. It was not a surprise that, later on, this came as a habit whenever I wrote anything.

Back then, as a college junior, I was so perplexed by the possibilities and uncertainties of my future. Who would I become? What kind of career should I pursue? CGC Beijing responded to my puzzles with challenges and opportunities. I was a tyro translator, a consecutive interpreter (I had received professional training for both in college), but I could also be a reporter, a writer, and even participate in a curating program. CGC Beijing is a place where people from different careers and educational backgrounds gather together for a common goal. These experienced seniors guided me with their kindness and wisdom to explore my future potentialities.

That summer also brought me into the vast, unlimited territory of knowledge. From Prof. Lipkin’s talk on epistemology to the ICLS conference addressing world literature and the Bandung conference in 1955, I grabbed a sense of what the world-leading scholars were looking into. I talked with many professors and translated for them. Some of them later became my professors at Columbia, and many a time, we still recalled our incredible summer in Beijing, 2018. Moreover, the information I have attained in these events, for example, the basic knowledge of epistemology from Prof. Lipkin's talk, recurred aptly in my mind during the COVID-19 pandemic.

When the summer ended, I walked away from CGC Beijing with a brand-new self. I developed substantial skills, made new connections with people to whom I should always apprentice, and I also got acknowledged by my CGC cohorts because of the contributions I had made. For me, that summer was a time when all my wildest dreams became palpable: I was projecting into a future that I had been longed-for. 

Even nowadays, CGC Beijing still lingers in my mind: its crystal glass wall shining under the summer sun and its office colored by a blue of self-possession. I remember the time we hang out when we nailed an event, wandering the avenues in Zhongguancun after the night fell down. There are so many good memories that would bring about a smile with tears. I always know CGC Beijing has transformed my life; and here, these words are way less than enough to behold my sincere appreciation.