Finding a balance between two cultures

Poh Choo Sim

Poh Choo Sim '11, Vendor Liaison

Major: East Asian studies, history minor

Award: Irene He Yuan Chinese-America Friendship Award

Internships: Ningbo University of Technology

Study Abroad: Beijing Language and Culture Summer Program

Employer: Public Health Solutions

My major has helped me throughout, especially with my professional goals, as I was able to work abroad and in programs within the Chinese community.

Being a Mount Holyoke student, we are given opportunities to pursue our passion inside and outside of the classroom. Growing up, I had two cultures competing for my attention. The American culture encouraged me to explore outside of my comfort zone, while the Chinese culture was a mystery inside of me just waiting to burst out. As an Asian-American growing up, being an Asian studies major helped me look within my Chinese culture, as well as a chance to study abroad.

At Mount Holyoke, I was lucky enough to participate in different programs that allowed me to explore the Chinese culture and to have a better understanding of it. At home, the Chinese culture was just there and usually had no explanations so I had to find out the reasons on my own. I took Chinese classes which enabled me to travel to Beijing in 2009 through the exchange program with Beijing Language and Culture University and Mount Holyoke College.

I was able to climb the Great Wall of China, watch an acrobat performance and even learn how to cook several dishes with my Chinese professors. It was an amazing opportunity to not only practice my Chinese but also immerse myself in the culture.

During the summer I traveled to the Ningbo University of Technology in Ningbo, China to teach English. It was a wonderful experience to not only interact with the University students but also learn from them. It was an exchange between cultures where we all could learn from each other. This experience taught me more about myself and gave me the chance to find a balance between the two cultures.