Can study abroad help you after Smith? For Cassie Chao ‘10J, the answer is yes.
Chao’s study abroad program, Alliance for Global Education, helped her find a position with the Student Ambassadors Internship program in Shanghai, where she will use her Mandarin language skills this summer to guide guests through the USA Pavilion exhibits.
The Student Ambassadors Internship Program, a collaboration between the US-China Institute at the University of Southern California and the USA Pavilion, recruits students to serve as national representatives at the World Expo in Shanghai, China. Only 160 student ambassadors were chosen from across the country to represent the United States by providing narratives or answering questions about the exhibits while primarily speaking Mandarin. Chao will be working with 79 other student ambassadors and the full-time staff of the USA Pavilion.
Chao says she hopes networking within the program will help her eventually find a job in international affairs.
While the job comes with tremendous prestige, it also has its perks. “Just like the Olympics have ‘Olympic Village,’ the Expo has its own living quarters,” says Chao, reporting that student ambassadors will be living in brand new two- or three- bedroom apartments in what is known as the “Expo Village.” The apartments are fully furnished with washing machines, appliances, flat-screen TVs, and microwaves, which are, according to Chao, not typical in China.
Chao, who visited China in 2004 and 2006, and lived in Beijing and Shanghai as part of her junior year abroad, says she developed most of her language skills while in China, though her family is from Taiwan. She hopes the program will help strengthen her Mandarin speaking abilities. “I had been dying to go back, and I feel so grateful that I have this opportunity,” she said.
Chao will begin training in mid-July as a second session ambassador and will begin her job in August, continuing through October. Though she will not find out what the position entails until she arrives for training, she expects to work within the USA Pavilion, assisting with the flow of visitors.
“There are a few ambassadors selected to work in VIP operations and external companies related to the Pavilion,” Chao says, hoping to be assigned to that post, based on her previous work experience in event operations. “While I am not expecting to meet President Obama, I hope to,” she joked.