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The World as a Classroom

A whirlwind of international experience in her junior year helped Hao Nguyen ’17 narrow her career focus.

The economics major spent a semester studying on Earlham’s London program. Not long after, she left for Kunshan, China, where she interned at Asia Tech Source for eight weeks. On the heels of the internship, she traveled 30 minutes by high speed train to Shanghai, where she met up with two Earlham professors and five Earlham students for a faculty-student research project studying the effects of the one-child policy and migrant labor. When the research project ended, Nguyen went home to Vietnam for nearly a month, and then in August returned to the U.S. to resume her studies at Earlham.

“I was very fortunate to be able to do all three opportunities,” Nguyen says. “I want to work in an economics-related field, in a big international city. When I think about my career and where I want to be, China may be one of the options.”

At Asia Tech Source, a manufacturing and sourcing company, Nguyen worked with engineers to make sure products met U.S. specifications. Asia Tech Source procures hardware and hand tools from manufacturers in China for U.S. clients.

“I got to travel to different areas in China to do rigorous inspections of the products to make sure they were up to the U.S. standards,” Nguyen says. “Almost every week we went to a different place.

“I learned the logistical aspects of a manufacturing and sourcing company, and it was a wonderful opportunity to learn more about Chinese culture and people. On the weekends, I went out exploring. It was the best of both worlds for me.”

At the end of the internship, Nguyen travelled to Shanghai to meet with Peng Yu, assistant professor of politics; Rajaram Krishnan, professor of economics; and five Earlham students for a research project focused on migrant labor and the effects of China’s one-child policy, which began in 1979. China changed to a two-child policy in 2015. The Earlham student-faculty research was funded by the AsiaNetwork-Freeman program, an initiative dedicated to helping students get firsthand experience in Asian cultures.

To study the relationship between the one-child policy and migrant labor in China, the team went to companies and factories to interview both blue collar and white collar workers.

They also spoke with students at Eastern China Normal University and asked what they thought about the one-child policy and why they decided to migrate to Shanghai, China’s biggest city.

Hao Nguyen

Hao Nguyen 2017

Hometown: Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

Major at Earlham: Economics

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