Mason Williams

I spent a full year in China at Nanjing University as part of the Chinese Flagship Program at the University of Minnesota. What I enjoyed most about my experience was receiving formal language training in tandem with professional experience. During my fall semester, I received formal language training at Nanjing University and attended classes in my major with local students; it was a complete language immersion.

After completing my language immersion in Nanjing, I interned in Beijing for a Minnesota-based multinational corporation. This gave me an opportunity to build my professional experience and technical vocabulary. The internship portion of my time abroad tied together years of education and work experience, making it one of my most memorable study abroad experiences.

My proudest accomplishment while in Nanjing was being awarded Yuehua Retirement Home's Outstanding Volunteer of the Year award. I initially spent my time helping the residents read the newspaper and taking them for walks. However, after I became well acquainted with a couple of the residents, I was regularly invited to play mahjong with them. Eventually, I learned the many rules of the game and became a regular player. Grandpa Ma, one of the residents I was most familiar with, enjoyed sitting next to me while I played and gave me hints and advice. I am still thankful for his help and friendship.

I plan to leverage this experience to continue to help organizations conduct business in China. It was amazing to see the improvement in communication between our two offices after I arrived. Prior to my arrival, my Beijing coworkers felt disconnected from our US counterparts due to a variety of communication issues. After making the appropriate introductions, many of my coworkers in Beijing began to coordinate with their counterparts in the US on many projects. If possible, I hope to use my experience to continue connecting businesses and people abroad.