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No language barrier here

Working in the software development division of IBM’s Beijing office, Northeastern computer science major Brad Osgood found his linguistic focus shift from the computer language of ones and zeros to a new, human language: Mandarin Chinese.

Osgood’s experience, working just blocks from Olympic Park, enabled him to discover an unexpected passion for China’s culture and language—and an unexpected path after graduation.

“I just fell in love with it there,” he says. “My goal is to learn Chinese and go back and get a job there.”

So determined is Osgood to return to China after he graduates in 2010 that he has continued to pursue his Mandarin studies at the Boston Language Institute, determined to become fluent in another year, he says.

Osgood landed his position at IBM, which ended in July, after deciding to seek an international experience to round out his college education.

Soon after he arrived in January, Osgood made friends with colleagues who took him on trips, and participated in weekly cultural-exchange exercises at the office. On Fridays, Osgood and colleagues would make presentations to one another highlighting a cultural detail of their country, or hometown.

Early on, Osgood noticed without having it spelled out in a presentation that Beijing was brimming with opportunity for Westerners, and filled with a positive, upbeat energy, he says.

“Everywhere you look in China, it seems like there is construction going on. The atmosphere is so positive,” Osgood says. “Most people in Beijing just seem so happy, as though they finally have this chance in the world.”

He adds, “Westerners are in great demand because the country wants so badly to connect with the West, and the business world.”

Just before he returned to Boston, Osgood traveled with a coworker to Hunan and Hubei provinces, and as he grew more confident in his conversational Chinese, and his ability to navigate the continent, he promised himself a return trip.

“I can’t wait to go back.”

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