By Ann Gunaratnam, Carleton University
I found out about Huawei’s Seeds for the Future program through a post I saw while skimming LinkedIn earlier this year. Curious to see what an all-expenses paid trip to China to immerse into the Chinese culture and learn about the future of information and communication technology (ICT) entailed, I reached out to the company. A few months after submitting my application, I was excited to find out that I – along with 19 other engineering students from universities across the country – was selected to travel to China for 15 days, which included cultural and language classes, sightseeing, and a week at Huawei’s headquarters. In short, it was the trip of a lifetime.
The delegation came together in Ottawa a few days prior to leaving for China. There, we toured the impressive 5G labs in Huawei’s Canara Research Centre which gave us with a glimpse into the thriving Canadian ICT ecosystem. After a visit to Question Period at Parliament, a reception for the delegation was held, where MPs, Senators, and the Chinese Ambassador to Canada, Lu Shaye, were present. I was thrilled when my riding’s MP, Andrew Leslie, a retired Canadian Forces Lieutenant-General, took time out of his busy schedule to present a certificate to me at the reception.
The next day we were off to Beijing! My preconceived perceptions of China were significantly altered from day one. The Western media is in part clouded with talks on China’s stances on certain issues, and while there is some truth in what is heard, China is nevertheless an exponentially booming powerhouse. A visit to the Canadian Embassy in Beijing put into perspective the mass potential and rapidly improving living standards of China. The opportunities that lie in the China-Canada connection are very exciting for young professionals like myself.
The Chinese cuisine amazed me for its diverse ingredients and intense flavours. Not only is Western Chinese cuisine vastly simplified, the dishes are completed varied from province to province in China.
I fell in love with the scenic views of China. We visited the Great Wall, a central symbol of Chinese culture, which was no leisurely walk. The view was nothing short of breathtaking, and on an early morning, one can see the wall winding through the misty mountains.
The week in Beijing consisted of immersing ourselves in the Chinese culture through language, art and calligraphy classes. Mandarin Chinese is arguably one of the most sophisticated languages in the world, and our Mandarin teacher was spectacular in showing us the complexity of it. Our Mandarin skills were definitely put to the test during our bargaining sessions in shopping markets!
Our second week was spent in Shenzhen, a city I soon realized I could imagine myself one day working in.
Shenzhen was China’s first ‘special economic zone’ that allowed foreign investments to help build it from scratch within the past 30 years. Huawei’s massive headquarters, a spectacular Silicon Valley-style campus, is situated in Shenzhen. Along with the Canadian delegation, the Cote D’Ivoire and Uganda delegation for the ‘Seeds for the Future’ program were also hosted by Huawei the same week.
We had the opportunity to visit the training centre where we explored the Telecommunication Network and discussed the 5G pipeline. During laboratories, we had the opportunity to configure our own 4G Base Station.
The Huawei campus included a number of Exhibition Halls that showcased innovative ICT products and solutions in the realm of 5G technology. It truly was remarkable.
Information and communication technology affects every facet of our lives. Having recently obtained my Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering and now pursuing a career in the field of power engineering, I witnessed the essential overlap of the telecom and power industries. The prospect of working on the power system communication networks excites me.
In conclusion, Huawei’s investment in young engineering students globally is a true testament to its core values. I could not be more grateful for the lifelong friendships and memories created on this trip. I am very excited for the future and now feel like there are many options available to me. It is truly an exciting time to be entering the global workforce.