Passport to Knowledge

Aug 19 2016
Written by NYU Shanghai

Ahh, summer! As soon as finals week ended, NYU Shanghai students packed their bags and boarded trains and planes, preparing to travel to a new country or return home to see family and friends. But many chose to add a new dimension to their summer -- the college staple of a summer job or internship.  From Budapest to Belfast, students seized the opportunity to take on the challenge of unique jobs and programs far from home. On Century Avenue editor Savannah Billman catches up with a few NYU Shanghai students who have been working and learning across the globe.

Joanne Chun, Intern at World Youth Alliance, New York City
This summer, I have had the privilege to do an internship at the World Youth Alliance, an international nongovernmental organization dedicated to representing the world’s youth at the United Nations. I spend a great amount of time at the UN Headquarters and the Economic and Social Council. At the end of August, I will be in Hong Kong as a part of the Harvard Project for Asian and International Relations (HPAIR) conference. In my free time, I explore antique bookstores in New York. I am grateful for these opportunities, but I can’t wait to come back to Shanghai!

Nofar Hamrany, Forward Thinking Political Activist, Belfast
This summer, I joined an Israeli political youth activist delegation to Belfast, Northern Ireland, facilitated by Forward Thinking –- a proactive organization that works to promote a more inclusive peace process in the Middle East. The purpose of traveling to Belfast was to learn about the conflict and peace process in Northern Ireland by personally meeting leading figures from both Unionist and Republican communities. The learning process was not to merely hear a model on how to achieve peace, but to take part in an ongoing dialogue on the challenges, successes and failures of Northern Ireland’s process and, from this, to explore the key themes that might be relevant to our own context in the Middle East.

Across the four days of the visit, I learned by participating in intensive discussions with young activists, academics, former paramilitaries, and victims of violence, walking around the streets and seeing the walls separating the communities, and hearing the young citizens’ views over a pint of Guinness at the local pubs.

Noel Konagai, Journalism Intern at Euronews and DURF Grant Recipient, Budapest
Euronews is Europe’s most watched TV channel but it is also a web platform for sharing news. During my internship I wrote several articles on China. In Europe, we are geographically so distant from China that many people have misconceptions about the country. So my task became to dismiss some of these misconceptions. My second English article called “Favela tourism and the human cost of gentrifying Rio” trended as the second most viewed one.

I got the DURF grant for my research with a friend (Katarzyna Olszewska) about the differences in the network structures of Twitter and VK (Russian social media). I got inspired by the class I took last semester called Complexity where we learned about Network and Information theory. We are examining whether there is any correlation between the language or the features of the social media platforms and the structure of the network that the users have set up.

Kenny Song, Associate Product Manager Intern at X, California
I’ve spent most of my summer working at X (previously Google X) in Mountain View, California as an Associate Product Manager intern. I was on the Project Loon team, which is a project to deliver internet access by using high altitude LTE-equipped balloons. It’s an amazingly cool idea that pretty much only Google would be crazy enough to take on, and spans the frontiers of many fields, including mechanical engineering, wireless networking, balloon design, meteorology, optimization theory, flight operations, business development, and international law. My role has been to work with the engineers, operations, and cross-functional teams to develop new methods to improve balloon steering and navigation. One of the coolest parts of my summer has been getting to see all of the other (secret) futuristic technologies that X is developing.

Outside of work, I’ve been exploring San Francisco with other interns, taking Japanese classes, and worrying about post-grad plans. After my internship, I’ll be taking a two-week trip to Japan, and then returning to NYU Abu Dhabi for the fall semester.

Annie Seaman, Student at American Councils for International Education, Taiwan
This summer, I spent eight weeks in an immersive language program in Tainan through the American Councils for International Education (ACIE), Taiwan. Located in the south of the island, Tainan is a unique city filled with history and culture. The program is designed to teach two semester of university level Chinese in eight weeks. The expectations are high and the pace fast but I think a fast pace is necessary in order to progress quickly in a language. Additionally, ACIE participants are expected to sign a language pledge, promising to only speak Chinese during their time in the program. The program is held through the Chinese Language Center and the National Cheng Kung University (NCKU). NCKU is a big university in the middle of Tainan city and it is ranked as one of the top four universities in Taiwan.

During the week, my days were packed with classes but on the weekends, I had some free time to explore the island. The activities ACIE offered on the weekends differed from week to week. Some weekends we went on trips to other cities in Taiwan (Taipei, Kenting, Kaohsiung etc.) while other weekends were spent in Tainan with homestay families or visiting local sights. The days were long, demanding and sometimes draining but I wanted to pack in as much as I could during my time at ACIE so that I could look back and be completely satisfied with my time spent there.

Kangni Yu, Corporate Finance Department Intern at Bank of China; Tiange Ye, Investment Banking Department Intern at China Securities; 2016 NYU Shanghai DURF Grant Recipients
We are both majoring in Business and Finance. This summer, we combined doing internships in Shanghai with conducting financial research into the Chinese stock market. We were accepted into the DURF program for our project “Going Beyond the CAPM: An Empirical Test in China’s Stock Market”. In the spirit of a seminal early paper by Black, Jensen and Scholes, whose results have recently been extended and reinterpreted by Frazzini and Pedersen, we are examining whether the phenomenon of a “flatter security market line (SML)” also exists in China’s stock market, i.e. the riskier assets are usually overvalued while the less risky assets are usually undervalued.
We are lucky to have professor Robert F. Whitelaw, the Edward C. Johnson 3d Professor of Entrepreneurial Finance at the Leonard N. Stern School of Business, who is an expert in the research fields of pricing modeling and empirical testing, as our faculty mentor.

We made full use of our time after work as well as weekends to analyze the Chinese stock data from the years 1999 to 2015 and perform regression tests. So far, we have gained persuasive and valuable results.

The DURF program has been an excellent opportunity to conduct research of both academic and practical value, which significantly enriched our summer experience and would help in our future career.

Savannah Billman is editor-in-chief of On Century Avenue, the NYU Shanghai student magazine. This article first appeared in On Century Avenue and has been edited.