Durham student internships reap China-UK educational benefits

Two Durham University students have just completed a 10-week internship programme with Engage with China, an independent educational charity, thanks to a philanthropic gift from an alumnus in Chinese Studies also from Durham.

Olivia Farr, currently in her 3rd year studying Chinese, should have been in China for her year abroad and Riley Lin, a postgraduate student studying marketing at the Business School, is from Xiamen in Eastern China. For obvious Covid reasons, this academic year for both of them has been contrary to expectations; for Riley this meant that she had only online lessons and Olivia has been based at home and never made it to China for her year abroad.

However, an opportunity to become interns with Engage with China, an independent educational charity building China literacy in schools, was exciting for two successful candidates. The roles included social media development, research and event planning and enabled the students to develop new skills and work experience in these most unusual times. Asked why she wanted to work for the charity and how it benefited her, Ms Farr said; 

Engage with China is filling a crucial gap in the curriculum and helping children to reach bright futures that will undoubtedly be impacted by their understanding of Chinese language and culture. It is about time the UK education system caught up and helped children to develop their global outlook, as such Engage with China is stepping up. During my internship with Engage with China I was given the opportunity to gain new skills and communicate in ways that were not previously available to me. It has given me the confidence to experiment with new social media platforms and converse with people in multiple languages in a business setting, whilst allowing me to constantly expand my knowledge.

Olivia Farr, Undergraduate in Chinese Studies
Weekly team meetings were held via Zoom

Speaking about the work of the charity, Director Ms H-J Colston said, 

“Through our curriculum enrichment programmes and resources we aim to add breadth to the curriculum, to challenge perspectives and to open eyes to modern China, its development and its impact. We are a small charity and having two bright students working with us who have an interest in and knowledge of China, has boosted our output exponentially. Thanks to the vision of a generous donor who, like us, believes in nurturing opportunities for young people with mandarin and China-related skills, we were able to provide an opportunity to work cross-culturally and to converse in both mandarin and English to develop their language skills, too. Despite having to work remotely and to meet only online, we are so grateful to the students for their ideas and what they have achieved in a short space of time.”

This internship gave me a better understanding of how foreign media (e.g. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) is run. The internship also allowed me to practice speaking English,” said Ms Lin. “The team is very friendly and empowers the interns to express ideas and thoughts, making it a great internship experience.

Riley Lin, postgraduate student

Engage with China is currently looking for volunteers with teaching experience to help with developing more resources as it enters the next phase of growth. Please contact us if interested.

Published by H-J Colston

H-J is Joint CEO of Chopsticks Club and a regular speaker on China. Through training and events, she has been building cultural literacy about China from the boardroom to the classroom since 1993. She designed and delivered a “Doing Business in China” course at Pearson Business School. She was invited to meet President Xi Jinping during his state visit to the UK in 2015 in recognition of her work in building China-UK relations. She has a degree in Chinese Studies from the University of Durham. Find out more at www.chopsticksclub.com and www.engagewithchina.org

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