This past summer I traveled to Brazil and then China for two separate international planning opportunities provided to students through USC.
On May 20, 2011 I stepped onto a Korean Air flight that would be the beginning of an incredible summer of international experiences. My first stop was Rio de Janeiro where a group of USC students from various disciplines, including myself, would spend two weeks rounding out a semester of studies attempting to discover insights into how Brazil’s top tourist destination could use catalytic projects and policies to develop a positive social and economic legacy as part of their preparations for the 2016 Olympics. While in Rio de Janeiro we were privileged enough to meet with leading officials of the City, Region, and State, as well as with Olympic Committee members.
We presented our recommendations to a panel of these officials before we left. The trip and class was a great planning experience as well as a wonderful international adventure. It supplied an opportunity to work on an incredibly large project, provided insight into the scale of coordination efforts necessary for mega sporting events, and taught us another country’s planning methods and culture.
After one week being back from Rio de Janeiro, I boarded an Air Canada flight to Beijing, China. I had applied earlier that year through Career Services for the fellow program at the Chinese Academy of Urban Planning and Design (CAUPD) and was awarded the opportunity to live in China for two months while working for CAUPD. I had no idea of the type or scope of project I would work on while I was in China but went with anticipation that it would be another mega planning project.
For the two months in China, I worked on a contracted project for Luanda, Angola. The contract was providing regional and local planning documents for the City of Luanda and the regional area surrounding it. This project was a great deal larger in scope and in importance than what I had worked on up until then, since Luanda is a hyper-urbanized city within a country suffering from a high rate of urban primacy brought about by 25 years of civil war. This project was also difficult since socioeconomic data for a population of over 6 million people was non-existent, as census data had not been gathered for over twenty five years. This experience was incredible and offered me more planning practice in a foreign country and an insight into regional and national level planning.