Name: Saiqian Xiao
Class Year: 2023
Major: Growth and Structure of Cities
Hometown: Beijing, China
Internship Organization: Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation
Job Title: Neighborhood Planning and Project Management Intern
Award: Bryn Mawr College Internship Fund
What’s happening at your internship?
Since mid-May this summer, I have worked at Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation (PCDC) as a neighborhood planning and project management intern. This internship will last till the end of August. I assist my supervisor, Yue, and help with other programs' projects as well, given PCDC is a nonprofit community organization and always lacks the labor force. Basically, my internship is in three sections:
- neighborhood planning projects
- daily office operations
- media promotions
As I am doing this internship remotely in Shanghai, China, my work hours are from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. in my time zone. As a result, except for three to six synchronous Zoom meetings, I work alone through midnight. The usual scene is that I sit in front of my laptop in the passageway of the youth hostel I live in or the WeWork office to do research, create flyers, write and reply to emails, and typeset PCDC's WeChat articles.
Most of this work directly relates to the life of Chinatown residents and also includes communication with other organization stakeholders like the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA). For example, I helped write media blurbs, created flyers, and co-hosted and took notes for a community meeting with DRPA about the re-opening of PATCO Franklin Square Station. After that, I recapped for the Neighborhood Planning Program's monthly newsletter.
Why did you apply for this internship?
I got this internship opportunity because Prof. McDonogh of the Cities Department connected me with a Mawrter, Lamei, who has worked at PCDC for the last four years. During our talks, I expressed my interest in PCDC's past community engagement projects such as the Rail Park, and then she introduced me to my current supervisor, Yue. In the beginning, I did not have an intention to find an internship, but I was happy to support PCDC when I learned that they need people. Thus, the whole process was more like a coincidence.
What has been your favorite part of this internship?
I enjoy the most attending all stakeholder meetings: the neighborhood planning meeting of Chinatown 10th Street Plaza, the weekly check-in with project advisor Sarah Yeung, the regular meetings with other registered community Ooganizations, the community meetings engaging Chinatown residents, etc. These synchronous meetings connect me to the daily life at PCDC and Chinatown, inform me of the upcoming planning, tensions between different organizations, and residents' actual demands. The urban theories like gentrification, public order, community engagement, and equity movement are exemplified and characterized in all the daily communications, broadening and deepening my past interpretation of them.
Working remotely for the first time? What has that experience been like for you?
There are both pros and cons to working remotely: I can start my work anywhere in Shanghai but cannot engage with other members of the team. I have seen most of PCDC's staff via Zoom but will not have a chance to meet everyone until I returned to Philly on Aug. 20. As I also have a 12-hour time lag with PCDC, sometimes it's hard to keep on track for every event. I communicated with my supervisor and solved this by setting a detailed work and rest schedule.
Visit the Summer Internship Stories page to read more about student internship experiences.