Nick Selby Goes to China

Nick Selby Goes to China

Even on the other side of the globe, Nick Selby is recognized after his YouTube viral hit.

In 2013, Georgia Tech mechanical engineering major Nick Selby gave a speech that would become one of the most talked about video clips of 2013.  Nearly a year after, inspiring a new class of Yellow Jacket freshmen to “build the Iron Man suit,” Selby found himself posing next to a life size statue of that very suit – across the world in China.

“I’d never been anywhere off the continent of North America,” Selby explains.

Even on the other side of the globe, Selby was recognizable for the stirring convocation speech he gave. 

“A random Chinese local approached me while we were in Shanghai and said, ‘Are you that guy that gave the speech?’” Selby recalled with a grin.

The two shared a moment and a captured it with selfie.

This summer, Selby was one of 40 Georgia Tech students who seized the opportunity to study abroad with the China Summer program in Shanghai and Tianjin. Weekdays, the students took rigorous courses taught by Georgia Tech professors, including engineering curriculum.  Three day weekends gave the students the chance to travel the country, experience the culture, and discover China in a way most tourists will never be able.

Selby and his travel group got a rarely seen glimpse of one of the world’s most recognizable landmarks. An excursion, organized specially for the group by Outdoor Recreation at Georgia Tech, took them past the sections of China’s Great Wall most popular with tourists. The group hiked parts of the wall that have never been retouched or restored since they were built over two thousand years ago. If that wasn’t enough, the group rappelled down a 200-foot high dam on the same trip.   

Selby recalls his favorite experience in China actually took him off the beaten path.  He was longing to get a taste of what native China was really like. He and a small group of students took a day train outside of Shanghai, then boarded a bus headed for rural China.

“We asked the bus driver to drop us off in the middle of nowhere with the intention of getting lost,” Selby explained.

The group got off the bus and hitchhiked until they came upon a small farming village.  They rolled up their sleeves and worked the rice paddies with residents of the village. Those same families welcomed them into their homes and cooked for them.

 “[China] has the biggest cities in the world, and then if you are willing to make the trip, it also has areas that look completely untouched,” Selby said.

 Selby credits Tech’s Office of International Education for encouraging him to take advantage of the opportunity to explore outside America’s borders.

“China is a fantastic place to focus on. Their economy is exploding”, Selby says.

Now it’s a place he could see himself working.

“I never thought I would go to China in undergrad. Georgia Tech really opened that door for me.”

Another opportunity Yellow Jackets have in China: You can get a degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering at Georgia Tech Shenzhen. Shenzhen is one of China’s booming technology hubs.  Admission and degree requirements are the same as those at Georgia Tech’s campus in Atlanta. 

Learn more about the China Summer Program

Georgia Tech Shenzhen

Nick Selby's Amazing Welcome Speech

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