Exposure to a diverse community helps us grow, personally and professionally
Sandra Cai is a 20-year-old student from Shenzhen in Southeast China. While enrolled at New York University (NYU) in the United States, Sandra was looking for opportunities to engage with students changemakers from around the world. Keen to connect and meet students from other countries, Sandra was thrilled when she discovered Global Citizen Year Academy.
“I wanted to meet people who I am not that familiar with, and Global Citizen Year has a really dynamic, global community. I’ve always wondered about the kind of life, thoughts, mindsets, and skill sets that my peers from other countries would have.”
Excited to meet her instructors, mentors, classmates, and make lifelong friends, Sandra applied and was accepted to the Academy cohort of Fall 2021.
When Sandra joined the Academy she was overjoyed to connect with people from other cultures and backgrounds. Being the only Chinese student in her learning group gave Sandra the opportunity to discover the various issues faced by different countries and embrace diverse perspectives.
“We all get to bring our own stories to the table, and learn from one another. The Academy really trains us to become future leaders.”
The opportunity to build her network as especially important to Sandra because in China she’s found that international networking opportunities can vary across tier 1, 2, and 3 cities.
“Tier 1 cities are super international and people from other countries often visit and make the city their second home. However, tier 2 and 3 cities lack the same educational resources, and students have to try harder, in comparison, to build connections, network with people, and pursue their passion.”
Investment banking and beyond
Currently a freshman at New York University (NYU), Sandra is pursuing Liberal Studies with the aim of becoming an investment banker. She believes that learning how to connect and collaborate across lines of difference will help her to achieve her personal and professional goals.
“When we are talking about business, we’re talking about people. We have to be people-centered in our outlook. We need to know more about human nature and personalities, and understand the reactions and feedback from different people. We need to be more open to listening to others’ stories.”
Sandra has already begun putting these values into practice. As the Co-Head at the Nordic-China Startup Forum Internship, Sandra established relations with the Shenzhen government and a variety of start-up companies. She has also become a mentor at the Bottle Dream Peer Mentor Program where she helps other students identify and align their college and professional goals.
As Sandra continues to work toward her own goals for college and career, she remains committed to building her network and broadening her perspective.
“You never know who you’ll get to connect with through Global Citizen Year. Another student can make a difference in your life by sharing his or her perspective. You just have to keep engaging and growing your network.”