Jul 19, 2019
Brand. A simple symbol of status that carries so much more weight here in China than it does in the U.S. While the Harvard brand goes pretty far in China in terms of people treating you better than usual – a three hour wait at Hai Di Lou was cut down to 45 minutes when a friend mentioned I was from Harvard to the waiter – the purpose of this post is actually to talk about the company I worked for, One Foundation, and how its brand has attracted inspirational individuals.
Walking into One Foundation on the first day of work was quite the whirlwind. As Hannah and I were led around the office meeting each and every individual, I knew immediately that I was going to have to ask for everyone’s name again at some point again during the summer. As the weeks went on however, that proved to be a much easier task than I thought. The office culture is friendly and tight knit, with weekly badminton sessions after work, insightful discussions over lunch, and the occasional afternoon tea. As I got to know my coworkers better, I began to realize that they represent a very different set of individuals in China – ones with dreams and aspirations to make a brighter future. This became very apparent over a discussion about the college entrance exam that turned into a conversation of what the summer interns from China desire for their future. As I listened in, it became clear that many of these individuals wanted to continue their studies and be able to find work that allowed them to improve the status quo for their communities.
But this wasn’t just a vision limited to the One Foundation staff, it also applied to the people they attract to their events. As I volunteer on the weekends for events spearheaded by One Foundation’s newly founded innovation department, members from the Shenzhen community flock to these events designed to teach them about entrepreneurship and rethinking urban spaces. At these events, I was able to see the drive and dedication these people had to making a brighter future. It was as if they had also internalized One Foundation’s motto as their own personal brand, 尽我所能 人人公益 – doing my best to help humanity.
This blog post was written by Rowen VonPlagenhoef, Harvard College Class of 2021, and participant of the Harvard China Student Internship Program in 2019.