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USC Global Fellows program receives funding

From left, Global Fellows Kiara Adams, Eric Benavidez and Robert Fletcher explore the Forbidden City. (Photo/Eric Benavidez)

USC’s Global Fellows International Internship Program, a Student Affairs program administered by the USC Career Center, has received $150,000 in funding from the Freeman Foundation to continue its 2013 program.

Since 2001, the Global Fellows program has helped more than 265 students at USC to live and work in Bangkok, Beijing, Hanoi, Hiroshima, Hong Kong and Tokyo. There, they participate in an eight-week cultural immersion and professional development internship experience.

“That’s what really sets this experience apart,” said Lauren Opgenorth, assistant director of internships and special programs at the Career Center. “It’s not just study abroad. This really exposes students to so much more.”

Since its inception, the Freeman Foundation has provided nearly $1.5 million in grants to the Global Fellows program. These grants cover the cost of travel, housing and living expenses for the fellows.

The Freeman Foundation was established in 1994 in memory of businessman and Chinese philosophy scholar Mansfield Freeman. The foundation, which promotes understanding between the United States and East Asian countries, also supports USC’s East Asian Studies Center.

“No other school in the country has done what we have done when it comes to placing USC students in businesses, government agencies and nongovernment organizations in different Asian countries,” said Michael L. Jackson, vice president for Student Affairs. “We are very excited that the Freeman Foundation has again provided substantial funding to support USC students doing internships in Asia.“

The program gives students the opportunity to immerse themselves in an entirely different world and grow from the experience.

“I have a deeper sense of humility, an idea of how small I am in the face of an incredible world of difficulties and wonders, a refreshed appreciation for all that I have been given and a more profound awareness of how many possibilities the future holds,” said Jennifer Padilla, a Master of Communication Management progressive degree student who spent time in Haikou last summer.

Since the startup of the program, nearly all of the employers have rated their interns as excellent and said that they would be willing to accept another Global Fellow in the future.

“Students can now get a glimpse of the real world as long as the intern is serious in wanting to learn and as long as the supervisor is serious in his or her teaching — something I strongly believe in,” said David Harilela of Harilela George Limited in Hong Kong.

The Career Center works with USC international offices to identify internship opportunities for students in Southeast Asia.

“Out of the 13 years of the program, we’ve had over 100 different companies provide internships,” Opgenorth said. “We match students to jobs based on what they’ve put in their applications, as well as what they’ve said in their interviews.”

Matthew Prusak, a double major in philosophy, politics and law and international relations (global business) traveled to Hong Kong last year as part of the internship program. Prusak, who interned with USC Trustee Ronnie C. Chan, chairman of Hang Lung Group Limited and Hang Lung Properties Limited, said one of the favorite parts of his internship was the people he was able to meet.

“I’ve never come in contact with a wider variety of people in my life,” he said. “Sharing their stories and listening to their opinions gave me a greater appreciation for the many different ways people go through life and a better understanding of what I’m doing with my own. The Global Fellowship taught me not only about what it means to live and work in East Asia but what it means to be a citizen of the world.”

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