Fulbright Year: 2010-2011
Proposal Type: Research
Field of Study: Public Administration and Policy
Proposal Title: Municipal Public Policy Targeting Air Emissions in Nanchang, China
UGA Undergraduate Major: International Affairs
Graduation Date: May 2010
Hometown: Decatur, GA
While Virginia Newman conducted extensive research on municipal air emissions policy in Nanchang, China, during her Fulbright year, she also found herself rubbing elbows with Communist Party officials and discovering the role business and industry plays in Sino-American relations.
“A prior internship through UGA’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government had given me close relationships with several government officials and administrators at the local Communist Party training school, Jiangxi Administrative Institute,” says Newman, who deferred from the law school at the University of Virginia to travel to China. “In addition to my research project, I had the amazing opportunity to serve as a guest lecturer to government officials at the training school.”
Virginia adds that her time in China convinced her to alter her career plans.
“In my undergraduate education, I always considered Sino-American relations as a primarily government venture,” she says. “Now I realize the importance of business ties in our countries’ bilateral relationship. Every American business that has ties with China (and vice-versa) is encouraging stability and cooperation in our relationship.
“I used to think I needed to work in government or academia in order to contribute to Sino-American relations. Now I think business is just as viable and important a field. I’m considering specializing in intellectual property, copyright, and/or trade law now because I see the burgeoning market these fields have in the China-U.S. relationship. I hope to help American businesses make inroads in China, and my understanding of Chinese business gives me a good platform from which to begin that study.”
As is the case with many Fulbrights, Virginia adapted to a decidedly different lifestyle pace and found a greater appreciation for life in the United States.
“Living in a foreign country forced me to adjust to the Chinese way of life, sometimes even more than I realized,” she says. “Out of necessity, I became used to the pace of life and way of doing business in Nanchang. I became more patient and tolerant, and also more appreciative of the high standard of living that we enjoy in the United States.
“Despite the sometimes negative reactions I received from Chinese because of my nationality, I realize now how lucky I am to be an American. The Fulbright experience made me a more independent and confident person; because I was able to successfully navigate a foreign country’s infrastructure using their native language, I now feel capable of doing anything here at home.”
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