Yiyao Zhu and Her Journey to the Amazon

Part I. “I am”

Name: Yiyao (Selena) Zhu

Class year: 2021

Hometown: Shanghai, China

Majors: HOD (Human and Organizational Development) and MHS (Medicine, Health and Society)

Three words to describe yourself: typical ENFJ, adventurous, and placid

Who is the inspiration in your life? The global citizens I met

What has your international spirit powered you to do? Join the international healthcare and education industry.

Can you share your experience of international cultural exchange?

For me, the most important spirit of traveling is not to “go there” but to “be completely involved in” it. Being open-minded is truly essential for one to throw all the stereotypes away and step out to learn, which is easier to say than to do. During the Thanksgiving break last year, I went to the Amazon rainforest and stayed with native people for three days without any interruption from the outside world (i.e. no Internet and no signals). It was the first time in my life that I got to completely attach myself to the nature. I woke up at four to hear the singing of the birds, walked through the forests and streams, and even swang on vines like Tarzan. I talked with our guides about their cultures and the “philosophy of the rainforest,” and even visited the local Kichwa family to get to know more about their rainforest life. These experiences make me so surprised about how much nature can give us: human’s wisdom is only a very small part of the rainforest, and the nature’s tolerance gives us a chance to explore. Also, after going to the Amazon rainforest, I decided to go to the 2019 Summer Global Service Program in Ecuador.

 

Part II. Academics

Can you explain HOD?

HOD is like a combination of sociology, business, and psychology. Many working skills are taught in the course.

Why did you choose to be a HOD major?

Vanderbilt is the only place that has HOD, which is broad and gives me opportunities to explore.

What has been your favorite HOD course?

HOD 1300 Small Group Behavior. The people were the reason why I loved this course. I met the best teammates, and we worked throughout the semesters with different presentations. No conflict ever occured, and everyone supported each other.

Part III. College Life

Can you talk about your involvement with the Vanderbilt University Concert Choir? I joined VUCC during my freshman year. The choir has history of more than 100 years. “Come for the music, stay for the people” is the choir’s motto, and it truly is fitting. We sang choir songs together and therefore I met many friends. The New Orleans choir tour last spring semester is one of the best memories I have at Vanderbilt.

What has motivated you to engage in Vanderbilt University Chinese Students and Scholars Association?

I know how hard it is to come to a completely different place 7,243 miles away from one’s home. I want to help people better prepare for the study abroad experience and never feel panicked about the new environment.

Why did you choose Vanderbilt?

In summer 2017, as a higher schooler, I had a campus tour at Vanderbilt. The tour guide was a senior, and she shared lots of her experiences studying at Vanderbilt.

What is one suggestion you have for other female students?

College is one of the last chances for you to have a complete period of time to discover yourself. So please just step out and talk with different people to learn about the world. Never try to become like the others, but just be yourself.

What are two tips you have for other International students?

Give yourself the time to get adjusted to the new environment, and don’t be hard on yourself if you’re not ready in a very short time. Stay strong when you face obstacles in the new environment. Remember, you have family and friends who support you.

What are three things to do in Tennessee?

Go to the concerts. Watch the stars in Great Smoky Mountains. Visit Vanderbilt.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

The 2019 Lunar New Year Festival (LNYF) is coming! I will participate in the instrument act this year, and it is the first time that LNYF is trying to put the Western and Eastern instruments together. I will play the guzheng, and I hope everyone feels welcome to join us on February 23!