Each month, Office of International Students and Scholars introduces one international student/scholar by highlighting their cultural background, personal experience in both home country and U.S. It is our hope that this mini introduction will help Lehigh community to have a better understanding of the international students and scholars on campus. We encourage every student to participate in this activity. If you would like to be featured, send your message to email@example.com.
- Tell me a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? What are you studying here at Lehigh? When will you be done with your studies?
My name is Zhili Deng and my English name is Jerry and I’m from China, Sichuan province. After graduating from undergraduate in China, I went to Kenya and worked as a financial accountant for a fortune 500 company. After two years in Kenya, I moved to Lehigh and wanted to further my studies. It’s now my first year in the degree of Master of Accounting and Information. I’m expected to graduate in 2017, May.
- So far, what do you think about Lehigh? Do you like the campus? The faculty? The students? Your housing?
Actually Lehigh is my preference relative to other options because it has a good location near New York and stuff here is not very expensive. The faculty is very excellent and the students are very nice, very understanding. So that’s my choice and it’s a very good environment. And my housing, actually I live off campus. It’s not far away from my academy – Rausch business school. I have three roommates, all from China so we kind of get along with each other. They are very nice persons. So, so far so good!
- While you're only just beginning to discover America in terms of the culture, language, ideals, and traditions, what have you learned so far?
So far I think the most important lesson I got from Americans is the way you deal with things, it’s very direct, very easy-going, very open-minded. It’s very important because you have to.. to be American, you have to get along with people from different backgrounds, from different traditions so if you cannot keep an open-mind, you’re just limiting yourself to a very cornered place. So you have to be open-minded so that you can contact different persons, you can broaden your horizon. You can learn more about different cultures, it’s very important.
- What is the most obvious difference between American culture and the culture in China?
Okay just as I mentioned before, because in China, the traditions are very rooted, deeply rooted inside people’s minds. So people are not.. uh don’t have contact with different kinds of persons. People are kind of conservative. Yeah but in America, it’s very different because America is comprised of people from different backgrounds so the diversification here is very.. very strong relative to China. That’s the difference.
- Describe what daily life is like for you in you in China.
In China, actually I’m a workaholic because I spent a lot of time working on my studies or my daily job but in my spare time, I have a lot of hobbies, I like to watch soccer games. During every time I have work off, I watch it around the clock. And I just go outside with my friends to watch the games – it’s really nice. And also I like singing. Actually I got vocal instructions since my childhood for like several years training. So I also won some competitions during my school and in my workplace.
Is that traditional Chinese singing?
No, not traditional.. Like pop actually. You know initially you have to accept the traditional Chinese vocal instruction but if you got some kind of standard, you just can expand your range to other sections of vocals. It’s easy haha.
- What are your hobbies? Interests?
Uh just as I mentioned, watching soccer, signing, reading and watching political news and financial news.
Do you watch a lot of U.S. politics?
Of course, yeah I watched the GOP debate, the democratic debate.. something like that. It was very interesting haha because in China we don’t have that kind of activity.
- What kinds of adventures have you been on here in the US?
Adventures… Okay but actually I'm just here for like two months and during this time, my course is very tough and I still have time to adjust myself to the tough courses, to adjust to the daily life here. Uh I haven’t stepped outside of Bethlehem right now, so far. But about four years ago, I came to the United States once to do a part-time job in a supermarket in South Carolina. So I was doing the customer service work – I help the customers to bag their goods and to send their.. to push their carts to their cars. It’s a very laborious job, you have to work under very harsh weather. It’s very hot, you know, in South Carolina especially at June or May.. something like that. But despite the laborious job, I learned a lot from it. I learned how to serve people, how to make people happy and make yourself happy in return. So it was a very good experience for me.
- What kinds of adventures have you been on in your in China or even Kenya?
Actually I’d like to talk about my experiences in Kenya because in Kenya, in the first stage, the job is very harsh. You have to adjust yourself, you have to make yourself learn more about Kenya’s financial policy.. It’s a very tough process and at the same time, you have to deal with the requirements from the Beijing quarters. I have to do the financial jobs under Chinese standards so it’s a very hectic lifestyle. But after all the things have been settled down, I got used to this kind of life. I kind of make some summary and make everything routine. So as a workload is decreasing so I got more time to travel around. I go with my friends to game driving safari to see the Kilimanjaro mountain, to see the national reserve, to see the animals.. the giraffes, the zebras, the lions and elephants. Yeah it’s very nice. Safaris especially in the one national reserve, it’s uh very famous. It’s bordering Tanzania. Every time.. every year in October, August and September, people migrating from Tanzania to Kenya. You can see the very fabulous, very spectacular views of all the animals just traveling. It’s very cool. It’s very different from any other place I have ever been.
9. What do you miss most about either China or Kenya?
Kenya, of course, I miss the nature. I miss the natural atmosphere and the quiet environment. It has always been a joy for me to see animals – zebras, giraffes just by the road. Blue sky and prosperous plants everywhere. In China, I miss my family of course. I miss the foods there because in my hometown in China, the food is very spicy. It’s very different.. It’s very hard to prepare in any other places – even in any other parts in China because you need the ingredients, the specific ingredients to make that flavor.
10. Could you share one tradition that is unique and important in China?
A tradition that is unique and important in China.. Okay I think a tradition is uh Spring Festival, the most important festival in China. At that time, people just uh… however far you are.. your hometown, you come back to your hometown. You reunion with your families, it’s very important. People gather together, they prepare foods. They watch a celebration gala. They send best wishes to each other and they also set off fireworks. They go to the temple to pray for the best of luck next year. So that is a very, you know, sweet moment for Chinese in the whole year.
11. If someone was going to visit Kenya and China, what would you tell them to do there and where would you tell them to visit?
If someone wants to travel to Kenya.. because they need to! They should haha. Kenya is very unique, you know, compared to other places. So if you want to go to Kenya, I would suggest you.. you have to at least try three places. The first is Amboseli National Reserve, it’s bordering Tanzania, because that is the best spot to view the Kilimanjaro mountain – the highest peak in Africa. You can see the.. I can show you some pictures! The mountain is just not far from you but you can see from this place.. clearly you can see the ice on the top of the mountain. You see Hemmingway, the American writer, used to write novels about Kilimanjaro mountain. Describes the ice there on the top. It’s not very tall but, you know, Africa is very flat so it’s kind of very outstanding in that place. And also another place I want to suggest is Mombasa. Mombasa is the largest port, the second largest city, in Kenya and it’s bordering the sea. It’s very rich in history and cultural heritage because it used to be occupied by the Portugese and then Arabic and then British. So it’s kind of very diversified culture there. The first post office in Africa, the first dock in Africa and the first police station in Africa is all in Mombasa. There’s also the Indian ocean, very beautiful there. Or you can do.. you can either watch the cultural heritage, historical heritage, historical relics and then you can enjoy the sunshine, the sand, the ocean there. Yeah it’s a very good experience. So a third place is Masai Mara National Reserve, that’s just mentioned. It’s the largest national reserve in the world, it’s the first one actually. Because uh you can go to a national park but the animals are very free. You don’t lock them, you just put that place away from people so the animals can just live by themselves, feed on themselves, you don’t intervene with their daily life. You can watch them - you can travel with air balloons – you can see the animals traveling, running, you can see lions, elephants. You get up very early in the morning like five or four o’clock because by that time it is not very hot so animals can get outside, can be very active at that period. But then when you watch the sunrise and then you go to sleep. At around like uh.. because at noon it’s very hot, not many animals. You get there at six o’clock/seven o’clock, you travel again. You see the sun set and all of the animals are there. There are very many types of animals. So you can take pictures and it’s very nice. Yeah so that’s my suggestions!