First-hand experiences from UvA students who took part in the Netherlands #TelecomSeeds for the Future program in 2014.
Huawei, a global ICT solutions provider, and the University of Amsterdam have joined forces to offer the first ‘Telecom Seeds for the Future’ programme in the Netherlands. Participating UvA students will tell you about their experiences in China.
One of the participants tells about their tourist experiences during their time at Huawei in China.
In Blog teaching, Robbert van Ginkel tells us about the training at Huawei HQ in Shenzhen.
This is the last entry for the blogs UvA students at Huawei have made. By Ruben Janssen.
In this video Daan Walter, 20 years old and a Physics and Astronomy Honor student of the University of Amsterdam, who also takes History of Art selected courses, tells us about the last few days in Beijing. He is part of the Netherlands #TelecomSeeds for the Future program.
Our first real “working day” at the education center of Huawei! After flooding our sleepy taste buds with another one of those hot, spicy, slightly excessive and amazing breakfasts that our Huawei-selected hotel has to offer, a minibus was waiting to pick us up.
A forty-minute bus ride, which was deemed “short” by our Chinese companions, took us to Huawei's facilities. Passing by several districts of Shenzhen, the reason for such confusion soon became clear: where thirty years ago, the city was still a moderately sizable town, counting 350 thousand citizens, it has now expanded to an 11-million people metropolis where skyscrapers and towering apartment blocks leave the viewer speechless. One of the reasons for this explosion is its status as a Special Economic Zone, appointed by the Chinese Government, offering favorable tax legislation and enhanced freedom to trade abroad.
Traces permeate the city, from luxurious hotels reminiscent of Las Vegas to small patches of farmland in between districts, seemingly lost and caught by surprise in the surrounding economic onslaught.
Arriving at a particularly beautiful and shiny facility, the Huawei education center, our work took off. After handing us a number of books and an undoubtedly indispensable Huawei coffee mug, a first presentation presented the history of Huawei. Onwards from its foundation by Ren Zhengfei in 1987 and the establishment of its R&D department in 1990, the growing success of the company was traced until the present day.
It was very interesting to learn of Huawei's strategy in its early years: as Chinese cities were dominated by established parties, Huawei focused on first expanding its position on the vast Chinese countryside, performing sales operations and offering customer support in the toughest conditions. From there on, cities were slowly approached and, eventually, won over.
Next, a wide range of devices was described, with which Huawei presently distinguishes itself in the international market of wireless networks. The basics of these techniques were explained, passing through the entire chain of devices making up 2G, 3G and 4G connections. As a student of condensed matter physics, my interests lie more deeply hidden inside of the computer chip, but the described technologies, so omnipresent in our world, were nonetheless nice to get to know. Having learnt the basics, tomorrow's lab session will explore them physically. I cannot wait!
On Wednesday the 9th of July, we continued our lessons at the Beijing Language and Culture University. We started with the course Comprehensive Chinese and revised the different tongues and pronunciations we had learned the day before. In the next lesson, Oral Chinese, we learned a lot of new Chinese words and even learned some dialogues. For example, we learned how to introduce ourselves and ask some basic questions.
Then, we had lunch at the cafeteria at the university. There was plenty of choice, there were multiple food stands from which you could order. I really enjoyed the warm meals during our lessons, they were very good and so much than the sandwiches we eat in the Netherlands during lunch. I also enjoyed the fact that we ate together with the Chinese students and experienced their daily life.
After lunch, we had a Chinese painting class, in which we painted multiple pictures of Chinese scenery in traditional style. We started off with a picture of a bamboo plant and after that we drew a Chinese flower. Personally, I thought the painting lessons were quite fun because it provided an opportunity to relax after the difficult language lessons.
Afterwards, we went to the Silk Market, which is quite known in Beijing. At the Silk Market, they sell clothes, electronic devices, souvenirs and much more. This was the first place where we could bargain when purchasing items. Some were really good at it, some not so much. I thought it was a great to experience this difference in culture and bought some presents for my family and friends.
The 9th of July was of course also the date of our match against Argentina. Monday, the embassy told us they were going to watch the game at the Local Bar and we decided to join them. Huawei was very kind to arrange transport to the pub, so we did not have to take taxis. It was a pity they lost the game, but we did have a fun night out.
Finally, after days of anticipation and arrangements, we - the fifteen selected honours students of UvA - have arrived in Beijing. Minutes after arriving at our hotel, we set off by a visit to the Dutch Embassy - which to our (pleasant) surprise was decorated with orange banners cheering for the Dutch football team as it is the World Cup time. (The widespread interest of the Chinese in the World cup and their knowledge of the Dutch team was, at least to me, rather unexpected).
During the reception at the Embassy we were given some very insightful and interesting speeches on the Embassy’s operations, the staff and their tasks, the etiquette necessary in dealings with the Chinese (rules regarding giving presents, exchanging business cards) which, I think, were some truly helpful tips to use during the remainder of our stay.
We learnt about the work of economics department of the Dutch Embassy in China, the assistance they provide in match-making between the Dutch and Chinese companies, the difficulties they encounter and risks their face. The hosts were open for discussion and we were happy to ask further about the differences approaches and goals of policymaking between China and the Netherlands and shortly discuss the future prospects of China’s growth.
After the Embassy reception, we travelled to the company’s private palace where the main part of the opening ceremony took place. First, the senior vice president of Huawei introduced us to the history of the company’s development over the years. This was concluded by the wish of plenty luck in the coming weeks. Finally, his 3 must-dos for Beijing followed - the Great wall, the Chinese Opera and, finally, the well-known Beijing duck. Personally, I had the great pleasure of replying to this speech by voicing our shared support for Huawei and our gratitude for organizing the program.
Finally, the speeches were followed by a formal business dinner, or so we thought. On our way to the venue, a traditional Chinese dancer had popped out of nowhere, and performed surprisingly mysterious traditional dance of changing masks. Then, we were free to enjoy very unique mixture of Italian, French and Chinese cuisine served in the historical interior of the palace. Naturally, warm hearted conversation and drinks followed.
We arrived back to our hotel full of emotions, expectations and a bit of confusion - we realized that China might be very different from what we were told to expect and we are about to experience that for ourselves.
In order to understand something, one has to experience it. One has to have it, see it and play with it, which was also a motto of today. We started with having experiments in the Huawei lab with 3G and 4G connections. We tried to set up a LTE devices, manage the broadband, block cells and experience the speed of the future. Nevertheless, we haven't forgotten about the good old 3G connection and we maintained a voice call with the use of loops on different stages of the chain.
Firstly, we were lost in the terminology, new theory we obtained previous day and new interface of the devices, but with experimenting and experiencing it, doing some wrong and right clicks, hearing own voice many times, we got the hang of it and finished our tasks with success.
After the dinner, there was an opportunity of going for "a cartoon movie projected on fountain". Having in mind classic child cartoons like Tom and Jerry, our ideas disappeared after the very first second when an alternatively dressed singer appeared and beats started. This got followed by acrobats, fireworks, flames, huge talking birds, extravagant costumes, enlightened bikes, reggae dancing trees and lots of water.
Every time, when we thought it can't get any weirder, it went way beyond our
imagination. If anyone would tell us about it, we wouldn't believe.
We had to experience it and see it on our own eyes, so that we could understand the different approach to performance, especially children oriented. To the surprise of our guide, who thought that we will be terrible bored by the performance for children, all our eyes sparkled like great stars and the exchange of our impressions and enthusiasm was endless.
Therefore, having just heard about something and theoretically know it, is not enough. It has to be experienced, not depending if it is knowledge about ICT or a different culture.
In the night of Wednesday the 9th of July to Thursday the 10th of July, the Dutch football team lost to Argentina, horribly. In contrast to the awful game, we had a terrific night in the “local bar”, where we watched the game with Chinese locals and our friends from the embassy who invited us to the place. Huawei was so kind to provide us with transport to and from the bar, which allowed us to watch the game with our fellow Dutchmen.
After a quick nap at the hotel, we went to our final class of Chinese. We were all very tired, but did enjoy the lessons. We had a quick introduction to Chinese characters during Comprehensive Chinese, but unfortunately there was no time to go in depth. Then, we finished our Chinese language lessons by playing several games, which was a lot of fun! Through the games, we practiced counting to fifty, practiced Chinese words and had to introduced ourselves in front of the class. Once class was over at the end of the morning, we received a wonderful certificate for completing the language course of the Beijing University of Continued Study.
After lunch, we went to Tai Chi class in the sports centre of the university. Tai Chi is an ancient martial art that has played a big role in both Taoism and Confucianism and is practiced throughout all of China. Although it looks very relaxing and simple, it’s a very demanding but interesting sport. Being extremely tired from the short night and the 3 hour session of Tai Chi, we went to bed early after dinner.
On the pre-final day of our stay at the Huawei training facility, all students show signs of dire exhaustion. Past one and a half weeks were very demanding, tiring but extremely entertaining at the same time. Only few of us got to sleep more than 7 hours per day, since we spent most of our time learning about Chinese culture, Huawei’s business, ICT industry and by exploring the beauties of China.
Therefore, all of us welcomed the promise of a free afternoon today. It will be an opportunity to prepare for the tomorrow’s exam, to explore the city on our own and to get some of the so much desired sleep.
Although, before enjoying the time off, we had to take in some of the last doses of Huawei’s presentations. This time, Mr. Dangou Gui focused on the future of and the trends in the ICT industry. Having listened to his presentation one got the impression that a whole new world is awaiting us - one, in which everything is going to be done remotely, digitally and online, and in which everything would be smart. Trying to imagine this immense shift one has to appreciate the extremely fast pace of development and innovation required to support it, and, possibly, doubt if such an immense investment in R&D is feasible.
Huawei repeatedly showed its dedication for this change. Its engineers and technicians together with their supporting stuff work day-night for this goal. Their main aim is to change the environment we live in, to make it smart and digital.
I am in no position to judge this new world, all I can say is that it will certainly bring many challenges, but most certainly even more opportunities. Thus all that remains is to wish Huawei the best of luck!
Today we had our second lecture at the Huawei University on the Cloud Pipe Device Overview and the typical Cloud. Our teacher Sam Shu taught us the very basics on the cloud, pipe and devices used within the technology network. After the lecture was done, he took us to the Huawei laboratory to see the products used by Huawei within this technology network.
In the afternoon, we left the Huawei University to visit one of their
assembly factories near the Shenzhen headquarters. After an hour drive in our
luxurious bus we arrived at the factory. To ensure our safety we all had to wear
protective clothing in which we looked quite funny.
After being properly dressed for the occasion, we started our tour through the factory. It was quite remarkable to see the speed and accuracy at which they produced and assembled the Huawei equipment.
Furthermore, it was inspiring to see how motivated and disciplined the Huawei employees were and how good all the conditions were in the factory. One of the funniest things we saw in the factory was an automated cart which was driving around playing Backstreet Boys songs on which some of us could have a little dance.
After our visit to the factory, we went to one of Shenzhen's best tepanyaki restaurants, where we could conclude our wonderful day and have a great dinner.
Today, our second day in Beijing was our first day at BLCU. The Beijing Language and Culture Univerisity was situated a small 10 minute walk from our accommodation. We were greeted by our teacher in comprehensive Chinese, who gave us signs with our Chinese names。My name (Robbert) is translated into 罗伯特. We started our Chinese lessons by learning some Pinyin, a way of writing Mandarin with Latin characters. Using this system, I learned to pronounce my name as <Luó bó tè>.
To learn how to read and pronounce Chinese, we practiced with the four Chinese tongues (¯ ´ ˇ `) as well as several other typically Chinese sounds that do not occur in the Dutch language. These lessons really helped me get an idea of the structure used in Chinese. Before the lessons Chinese sounded like complete gibberish to me, but after these introductory lectures I started to find patterns and recognise basic elements when I heard people speak.
After using the morning practicing our newly acquired verbal skills, the afternoon was filled with another important aspect of the language: the different character set. Using authentic tools we were introduced to the art of calligraphy. Our teacher first taught us some common symbols for expressions like love, happiness or for wishing to live a long and prosper life. Our teacher first demonstrated these characters, using special stroking technique which was easy to learn, but hard to master. After this everyone learned to write their own name.
The day closed with some rules for stroke order, common symbols and common combinations of symbols. I found that part very interesting, because it gave some insight into the symbols we would be seeing a lot. This introduction helped me see them as symbols which construct meaning, rather than small pictures.
Saturday, the 12th of July, was our last day in Beijing. This departure meant something else to everyone, from sweet goodbyes to the excitement of possible rain in Shenzhen, but all of us agreed on one feeling: regret that we would have to leave our amazing tour guide, Tina, behind. If there’s one Chinese person who has stolen all of our hearts in those Beijing days, it was this hardworking, honest and funny girl. So we would make the most out of our last day.
Since it was a day for sightseeing, Tina first took us to the Summer Palace of the Emperors. Since it was a Saturday, the Palace was extremely crowded, but Tina still managed to get some history across. The palace was the living accommodation of the Emperor during summer. However, since state affairs should continue, there were also ‘offices’ and administrative buildings. The palace changed over the years, but especially the influence of the so-called Dragon Lady could be noticed. She was actually the sister of the Emperor, but it is commonly known that she was the one with the real power. In the Palace, she altered buildings and statutes, and you can still see her marble boat, which was also a theatre. We admired that boat while sitting in another boat ourselves, which took us across the simmering lake surrounded by huge mountains, one of my favorite highlights.
That afternoon we saw another highlight. After all, since there’s only one thing you cannot miss while visiting China: the Great Wall. The bus took us to a passage where we began our walk. We were surprised by the number of tourists we were seeing, since it was extremely warm and sunny. As we were climbing higher and higher, the number of tourists started to decrease more and more. It might be a cliché, but it must be said: the view was amazing from there. You could see all the way to Beijing and once you were resting in the shades of some waiting tour, you could do nothing else but admire the Chinese people who built it.
Later that night (or early in the morning) she would bring us to the airport, and until the gate closed, everybody still had a little hope that she would join us in Shenzhen. Unfortunately, she didn’t, but all of us still would like to thank her, knowing that we will always remember Tina from China.
For most of us a bit too soon, but on Monday 21 July it was time for us to go back to the Netherlands. It was the end of two weeks of experiencing China and exploring the ICT industry. Two weeks in which we learned that China is indeed a beautiful country, with delicious food and a cultural heritage so interesting and big that I don’t think anybody can live long enough to explore it all.
However, I also learned that China is in certain aspects far more western than I imagined. I was surprised by the number of Starbucks stores I saw in thee loving China, the fact that there was a Walmart in every city we visited and the overwhelming number of German cars.
Also, we saw that Huawei's corporate culture is similar to that of Silicon Valley's start-ups and companies like Google. Not even mentioning the beautiful campus, we saw that Huawei also provides employees with many facilities to relax. The employees can use the tennis courts, gyms and swimming pools or take a power nap in the afternoon to stay fresh. For me, this shows that Huawei cares about the wellbeing of their employees.
We also learned that we enjoy the benefits of Huawei technology every day, even if you don’t have a Huawei smartphone, phablet or tablet. That is because most of the world’s telecom carriers use technology made by Huawei. This means that the next time I am calling someone or using Whatsapp I know that I am probably using Huawei technology. This is quite exciting because thanks to this program I now know how these technologies work.
In cooperation with leading universities and local partners, Huawei developed the ‘Telecom Seeds for the Future’ programme. Huawei currently cooperates with more than 70 universities in more than 20 different countries.