Getting Hot In Hainan: Qianqian Yang’s Internship At HNA Group

Aug 9, 2016

A very warm hello from Hainan Island! To clarify: by warm, I mean hot, and by hot, I mean 39°C (~102°F), sweat dripping from every pore, how the heck is 90% humidity even possible — that kind of hot. I have learned a few tricks for dealing with too much sun (i.e. I bust out my umbrella, Chinese-grandma style, in broad daylight and with no shame).

Hainan heat aside, I’ve really enjoyed my work at HNA. The first two weeks were in Haikou, the largest city on Hainan Island and HNA’s base of operations. My daily activities revolved around getting to know the internal structure of Hainan’s Aviation platform. I heard from departments and subsidiaries engaged in aviation-related operations — ground service, flight training, spare parts purchasing, airline food catering, and more. It definitely takes an army to get a single plane in the air. Who knew all that was happening while I snoozed in my seat?

After two weeks in Haikou, I headed off to Sanya, where I participated in cabin crew training alongside real-life flight attendants. I can now say that I know how to handle a cabin fire, conduct a water evacuation, and operate an Airbus A330 (badly) in snowy conditions — at least in a simulator. I even learned how to do flight attendant-appropriate makeup. Pretty cool.

When not sitting in air-conditioned office spaces or pretending to pilot aircraft, my fellow interns and I find respite from the sun in the form of qing bu liang (清补凉). This dessert dish features all sorts of tropical fruit, from mango to papaya to watermelon; legumes like mung bean and red bean; and an assorted mix of sweet additions, including herbal jelly, tapioca pudding, and taro-flavored sticky rice cake. All of this is covered in ice-cold coconut milk and shaved ice. The best part? You can eat it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

But for now, it’s goodbye to the Hainan heat—our three weeks of training are officially over. We’re headed over to the HNA offices in Beijing, where we’ll be put to work on various investment platforms. Full blast ahead!

This blog post was written by Qianqian Yang, Harvard College Class of 2019 and participant in the 2016 Harvard China Student Internship Program.