Jennifer de GuzmanCreative Writing
3rd Year in Master's Program
Date of Graduation:
While I was in China, I experienced something startling and horrifying: I was illiterate.
I know a few Chinese characters, but these were largely useless for doing anything practical, especially since I have no idea how they fit together to form phrases and sentences. In China the image became supreme. I could only go to restaurants with pictures of the food. When I went into bookstores (one’s habits die hard), I looked only at children’s picture books, art books, and graphic novels.
Pictures, like math, form a universal language. But I am student of literature; math eludes me. For me, the image is the only universal language of any use to me. While I was with the GTI delegation, we often used pictures to communicate what words could not, especially when we were talking to fellow students at Beijing University of Technology. A hastily sketched map of North America cleared up what “Mexico” is; a drawing of a scorpion described better than any combination of words and hand gestures the object we saw street food vendors selling on sticks. When we were out shopping, an image of a stick figure flying a kite enabled one of us to find a vendor who sold the desired item.
The reason I sought out graphic novels transcended professional curiosity. It was because all people crave communication, and the image was the strongest way for China to communicate with me. I also adore stories, whether told in words or pictures. Because of my lack of Mandarin, pictures were where I most often found stories, whether in the fast-moving action of a Chinese graphic novel, the intricately-detailed painting of a T’ang dynasty master, or in a portrait. I was especially drawn to an image of the Qianlong Emperor at the age of twenty-five. In this official portrait by an Italian named Giuseppe Castiglione, the sheen and folds of the Emperor’s splendidly embroidered yellow silk robe were so beautifully and realistically painted I could feel it under my fingertips.
In the details of a single image, there is a story.
Sahil GulatiCivil Engineer
Date of Graduation:
“So, the trip comes to an end now,” I remarked when departing from the airport. “It’s just the beginning, my friend,” came the reply. Suddenly, I realized the superficiality in my expression. The relationships I had forged with other “scholars” could potentially last a whole lifetime, a dream for an introvert like me. “Those were the best fifteen days of my life,” is how I begin the extensive description of GTI. It far surpassed my expectations and was much more than an all-expense-paid study tour to the world’s fastest growing economy.
“Hello, I’m Kai-Fu Lee, and I’m the President of Google China.” These simple words marked the beginning of the best speech I ever heard. I was slowly drawn by the irresistible charisma of the person whom I later idolized for his humbleness and modesty. This certainly was the best speech, but it was just one of numerous highlights of the tour for me, and it changed my opinion on the current corporate scenario. Similar incidents provided students with learning opportunities and introduced them to eminent people in various fields of business and engineering. We came across things we enjoyed and people we admired, and at the end of the day we were more knowledgeable and competent individuals. Every moment of the tour was precious; not a second was worth missing.
I believe that the word “company” encompasses the GTI experience. One can go and visit places as a tourist, but to be able to visit the companies we did and to enjoy the company we had would be impossible. Looking back, I can say that I grabbed this opportunity with both hands and made full use of the resources available. My perspective has become richer, my thoughts have meaningfully streamlined, and my goals seem clearer. I will forever remain indebted to the people that made GTI happen.
Hesham HussainChemical Engineer
Date of Graduation:
The study tour to Taiwan and China was an amazing trip and a very rich learning experience. It was great to intermingle, interact, and get to know some of San José State’s most intelligent, proactive, and open-minded students. It was also a great opportunity to interact with the three faculty members leading the study tour—an interaction that put students and professors on common ground to exchange ideas. Dr. Jacob Tsao was like a father to us. Dr. Fred Barez enlightened us with his experience in engineering and technology. Provost Carmen Sigler broadened our goals and view of the future. Two weeks were enough to feel that the whole group had become one big family. No matter what I say about the study tour, I can never give it the credit it deserves.
Both Taiwan and China are rapidly growing in all aspects. The technology and industry are advancing without limitation, and the companies and facilities we visited showed creativity in design and innovation. People there are looking towards the future, always seeking improvement, new ideas, and fresh minds. The universities we visited were amazing. Their students were full of ambition, hope, and determination. The expressions on their faces were an indication that they will raise their country to its highest level.
The exposure to both countries and in every moment spent in that part of the world made me realize what life is. Life is success. Without success, life would not be valuable. The study tour gave me the opportunity to speak with and listen to people who have accomplished excellent careers and established foundations for the prosperity of humanity. These people are the entrepreneurs and CEOs of international corporations, are successful by all means, and therefore are role models for those who want success. Most of us struggle to find ways to be successful while the key to success is in our hands. The key is determination, partnered with hard work and dedication. This is the most important lesson I learned from the trip. Now, I am more determined to accomplish my goals regardless of what it takes. (read more testimonials)