MEDIA, Pa. — Friendships developed through pick-up basketball games at Penn State Brandywine led to a first-time trip to Asia for junior Nick Peart, who spent two weeks in August visiting classmates who live in China.
Peart, a native of Brooklyn, New York, has resided in Orchard Hall since Brandywine opened its first on-campus housing in the fall of 2017. During his first two years, he grew close to a group of international students whom he first met while playing basketball. As they spent more time together, including dinners in Philadelphia’s Chinatown, Peart’s desire to visit their home country grew also.
During his trip, he spent time in Shanghai, Changsha and Shenzhen, visiting with his friends, meeting their family and friends, and even making some business connections. He enjoyed the experience so much that he’s already planned a return visit in November.
“We went out to eat, went to lounges, and I went to a fabric market in Shanghai to have a jacket custom made,” Peart said. “I saw the big towers in Shanghai and went on a boat on the river.”
“I told my friends before I went that I wasn’t as interested in the touristy stuff,” he added. “I told them, ‘Just treat me as if I was one of your normal friends that live here. I want to see what the life is that you guys live, what it's like when you're home.’ So I feel like I got a real down-to-earth homey experience when I went over there. I felt like I belonged.”
One of the highlights was attending a dinner with the vice president of a Chinese manufacturing company. The connection was made through Peart’s friend Fengyuan (Leo) Liu, a May 2019 Penn State graduate who attended Brandywine.
“It was very welcoming, very friendly. I couldn't believe I was in that room,” Peart said. “At first I felt like I wasn't supposed to be there, but I got acclimated very quickly and then it was something to enjoy. And something going forward that motivates me is the possibility for me to work there in the future. I didn't expect to go there and meet people to network with, but I did.”
Although this was his first trip to Asia, Peart is well traveled, having visited many Caribbean countries — his parents are from Jamaica — as well as Mexico and Central America.
He is working toward a minor in global and international studies and has traveled twice with Brandywine Global Programs — Ireland and Malta/Sicily. He plans to complete his third Global Programs experience in the spring in Vienna and Budapest.
China, though, offered the most dramatic cultural contrast.
“China was very, very different. Some social media we use is not available and they have their own social media,” he said. “Something I thought was cool was their app called WeChat that they communicate through. It’s messaging like social media, but you can pay for meals with it or buy plane and train tickets and it’s like their currency.”
Peart chose Penn State Brandywine in part because of its proximity to Philadelphia and the potential networking opportunities of a major city. Originally planning to transition to University Park after two years, he decided to remain at Brandywine to complete his degree in business.
“I like the small classes and knowing my professors and knowing so many people on campus,” he said. “And I like the area.”
After graduation, Peart hopes to earn an MBA and pursue a career in marketing, possibly with a focus on international marketing or sports and entertainment marketing.