For Scott Metcalfe, a visit to Victoria’s Chinatown brings back memories of Beijing, with one glaring difference.
“The one thing about Beijing is that it’s just so crowded. You wonder where all these people come from,” he said.
“You get on the subway, you can’t move. You lose your friend for a second and you can’t see him. It’s quiet and peaceful here. There’s no hustle and bustle.”
Metcalfe, 22, spent three weeks in China last May as part of an internship organized through Camosun College. The Oak Bay High alum is in the Sports Management program at Camosun, where he’s learning about the business side of sports. The internship offered him a rare chance to see how things are done on the other side of the world.
“The sport facilities just blew my mind,” he said. “It was not comparable to any other countries.”
Metcalfe and a handful of fellow Camosun students spent part of their time in China at Beijing Sport University, a massive training centre for virtually every sport imaginable. That level of infrastructure is reflective of Chinese attitudes toward sport, he said.
“It just kind of enables them to always be active, and the education (system) branches back to sport and health too.”
When he wasn’t touring Olympic venues or working at various job placements, Metcalfe was mingling with athletes and sport officials from all over the world. He even played in a basketball game with current and former Chinese pros, who have a special appreciation for a certain Victoria-born hoopster.
“They love Steve Nash,” Metcalfe said, describing a display that featured photographs of celebrated thinkers and innovators. Nash’s portrait was alongside those of Einstein and da Vinci.
“The way he passes the ball, he’s the icon of sharing, which in Chinese culture is just expected. Everything is shared.”
For Metcalfe, who is interested in pursuing a career in sports marketing, the trip was also a valuable opportunity to make contacts in the Chinese business community. In fact, he’s since been hired by a company called Youth Bridge China, which facilitates educational tours similar to the one which took him there.
“You can participate in this program, get all the cultural and travel benefits out of it,” he said. “But at the same time, you’re going to get a corporate business internship, a language certificate and that really valuable Chinese network.”
This kind of educational tour isn’t cheap – Metcalfe spent “a few grand.” In his role with Youth Bridge China he’s working on securing a private donor to offset some or all of the cost for participants. Currently a three-week tour runs about $3,650 plus airfare.
As he works toward his sports management diploma, Metcalfe is certain the return on investment will be much greater, giving him an advantage in a highly competitive industry.
“I feel that I’m a little more ahead of the game than other people in the field.”
For more information on Youth Bridge China, visit www.youthbridgechina.com.