Natalie Hoebing is a current Gonzaga student who just finished the Gonzaga-in-China Summer 2016 session. Natalie is pursuing a degree in Business Administration and a minor in Art. As part of her study abroad journey, she traveled around China and was immersed in eastern culture. She learned many things about the world outside of her home country and also about herself.
In her first response when asked about China, she said, “China is one of the most competitive countries in the world because of how crowded it is. It has a population of over 1.3 billion people, making China the world’s most populous nation.” She added that because they live a very fast paced life in the main cities “it is very easy to get pushed around.” An experience she had was getting pushed around while boarding the bus. She said, “You kind of have to fight for what you want. If you don’t push back, you will get left behind.” A danger she faced while in China was walking in the crosswalk. She remembered an instance when she was crossing the street and said, “I made eye contact with the driver and instead of slowing down, he sped up.” While this is not typical in the United States, it reveals the hustle and bustle of living in the more populated parts of China. Although the street life makes it seem like the Chinese are rough, the values of the people were clearly displayed when she interacted with them on a personal level. Natalie was very impressed by the culture saying that “they live with extreme modesty. The people want to give and learn. The Chinese find happiness in others. On the outside, China looks to be harsh. On the streets, you feel like you are in a dog-eat-dog world. From an outsider’s perspective, I can understand why others may see this, but you will never really get a real taste of the country unless you spend time with its people. The Chinese find joy and interest in everything around them.”
One of the aspects of business that Natalie saw was how start-up companies are ran. Unlike America, the startup culture is barely beginning. “We had the opportunity to visit W Hub, a cowork/accelerator-like space where startups grow their business through making meaningful connections. We were given a presentation by one of the founders, Karena Belin, who explained why Hong Kong is beginning to be one of the best places to startup. Hong Kong has low taxation, the world’s freest economy, a super connected population with the second quickest Internet speed in the world, and is positioned in a way that allows for quick scalability.” While entrepreneurship is prominent in the United States, China is slowly moving to adopt it. W Hub is participating in the transition towards a more entrepreneurial society in the east.
Natalie said, “One of the coolest places we went to in a group was Victoria Peak.” On the days when the group would travel to special places like this, they would be sure to dress in their Gonzaga-in-China t-shirts. The teachers would make it a point for all the students to wear their shirts and to get a big picture together. This really brought the students together and made the group stand out.
Natalie is not new to startups and has seen firsthand how former classmate, Kyle McAllister, took an idea and transformed it into a successful business. She worked alongside Kyle in the first year of Global Threads, helping with the Gonzaga-in-Florence project. She said, “The first thing we worked on together was developing his mission, vision, and values. It’s amazing to see how far he has gone with Global Threads. He is expanding to study abroad programs all over Washington and plans on going even further. He custom made shirts for our study abroad group, which we wore many times in China.” Natalie is glad to have worked with him and created something that had a lasting effect on the current group she was traveling with this year.