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©Guillaume Treille and Aäron Munsters

During the second half of July 2019, Aäron and Guillaume represented the VUB as part of the Seeds of the Future programme 2019. It’s an annual event organised every year by technology giant, Huawei. For Aäron Munsters and Guillaume Treille, it was an eye-opening, exciting and fun trip to China.

 

The two VUB students joined the Be-Lux group on the two-week trip to China; 4 students from Luxembourg and 10 from Belgium. They crossed over a bit with the group from Brazil, the Netherlands and Zimbabwe. Huawei organises about 100 of these group tours across the year, and it was clear to our two tech students that it’s a well-oiled machine by now. The trip was seamless, and everything was organised for them to the smallest detail.

 

The first week of the trip was cultural and sight-seeing, mixed in with some Chinese language classes and calligraphy lessons. The second week was spent in Shenzen, where Huawei has its headquarters. The Seeds of the Future programme is part of the Chinese ICT company’s corporate social responsibility programme. It’s a competition set up among students of technology in each country, which then provides them with a two-week work experience opportunity in China. It’s a way to seek out and develop local ICT talent and promote a greater understanding of and interest in the telecoms sector. Students who want to enter the competition need to submit their CV and a video explaining their motivation. During the second half of the trip they then have to submit a 500-word essay on their experience in China.

So, who are Aäron and Guillaume? Aäron is in his 3rd year bachelor’s programme in computer science; Guillaume just started his first-year master’s in electrical engineering in English, part of the BRUFACE programme with ULB. When we meet up to have our chat, you’d be forgiven to think these two have known each other since birth, but no… they met on the trip and have become solid friends since.

 

What made you apply?

Aäron: “I love travelling, so this was a great opportunity to go and visit China, expenses paid (very enticing for students!), but combined with my passion for technology… It was a done-deal for me!”

Guillaume: “Same for me. Add to that the sheer enthusiasm from last year’s participants when we went to the info session for this trip… I was blown away. It’s a shame that words cannot explain how exciting it was to hear their stories about their two week-trip in 2018. I hope I can convey the same level of passion this academic year to motivate a new batch of students to apply for Seeds of the Future 2020!”.

Both were very impressed with China:

Aäron: “The people were friendly, the food was amazing, the sheer beauty and scale of the country. Visiting iconic sites like the Great Wall, the forbidden city, but combining that with more every day life, like the markets, where you need to barter for goods… that was great fun! You don’t get to do that in Belgium!”

Guillaume: “The week in Shenzen visiting the Huawei offices was fantastic too. It’s a city that’s just exploded in terms of population from 30,000 to 18 million in the space of 30 years. It’s also a very obviously young population. Huawei has a massive campus there with different exhibition halls. It was all really fascinating to see the inside workings of such a technology giant. And we really did get to see the inner realm of high-tech.”

The students had classes at Huawei and worked on a 5G project where they had to work on mast configuration.

What were the big takeaways from this experience then?

Guillaume: “Seeing the vision of the future with 5G and its applications. The difference between 4G and 5G is astounding; the speed and the sheer quality of the data and images is impressive in 5G. What was also exciting was seeing the applications in action. All in all, our studies are quite theoretical, so seeing everything Huawei does or can do was quite something. We got to see the theories we’d been learning about in action in the real world.”

Aäron: “And then of course the chance to get to know a new culture. Seeing the Great Wall took my breath away. The group we were in had a tremendous atmosphere as well. We didn’t know each other but we gelled really well on this trip. It was great fun!”

 

The last questioned seemed superfluous after all they said but we asked Guillaume and Aäron if they’d recommend students to apply for the 2020 Seeds of the Future trip when it comes up. Their answer? A resounding YES!

©Guillaume Treille and Aäron Munsters

©Guillaume Treille and Aäron Munsters

©Guillaume Treille and Aäron Munsters

©Guillaume Treille and Aäron Munsters

©Guillaume Treille and Aäron Munsters