UNAIDS welcomes Haitao Gong, this year’s Serge Dumont-Fudan Strategic Communications Research Fellowship winner

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UNAIDS welcomes Haitao Gong, this year’s Serge Dumont-Fudan Strategic Communications Research Fellowship winner

05 October 2011

Haitao Gong, Serge Dumont-Fudan Strategic Communications Research Fellowship winner, working at UNAIDS HQ. Geneva, 05 October 2011.
Credit: UNAIDS

UNAIDS extends a warm welcome to Haitao Gong, this year’s Serge Dumont-Fudan Strategic Communications Research Fellowship winner. Haitao is pursuing a master’s degree in marketing communications in the prestigious School of Journalism at the University of Fudan in China and joined the UNAIDS communications team as an intern in September. He will be spending the next three months turning his theoretical knowledge into practice in the high-paced environment of the UNAIDS Geneva Secretariat.

UNAIDS.org met up with Haitao to talk about travelling outside China for the first time and what he hopes to gain from this scholarship.

Tell us about the Serge Dumont scholarship that brings you to UNAIDS all the way from China.

I come from Wei Fang, the famous “Kite City”, in Shandong province in the north of China. It’s about 1000 kilometres from Shanghai. Fudan University, where I study, was founded in 1905 and is one of the top five universities in China.

The Serge Dumont-Fudan Strategic Communications Research Fellowship, through which I have obtained this opportunity to intern with UNAIDS, is jointly run by the Serge Dumont Fund and the School of Journalism of Fudan University to encourage outstanding undergraduates and postgraduates committed to a career in strategic communications. It encourages students to apply their theoretical knowledge in practice and get a much deeper insight into strategic communication.

What motivated you to apply for this scholarship?

Initially, I never had the courage to imagine that I would win the scholarship and sit here in the offices of UNAIDS. Winning an opportunity to go abroad and become an intern at a world famous international organization like this was the most significant motivation for me. It is a wonderful and attractive project. I want to give myself the opportunity to improve my skills and apply my knowledge in practice.

Why did you want to come abroad?

I was an excellent student there, but that was only in China. I hope that being here will give me a clear perspective of myself and help me find my own position, not only in China, but also in the world. I wish to broaden my vision, experience different cultures and values and develop an international perspective.

Working for an international organisation such as this can make you think more deeply about making a contribution to the world. And that’s what I want to do

Haitao Gong, Serge Dumont-Fudan Strategic Communications Research Fellowship winner

What did you know about HIV before you came here?

I didn’t know much about it at a personal level. I only knew what I saw in publicity films that it’s a virus that can cause AIDS. In China they also tell us how to prevent HIV and show respect to people living with the virus. There is a big effort in my country to raise awareness about HIV.

What are your career plans after you graduate?

Before I came here, I wanted to work for a big multinational corporation and pursue my own success. But now I think differently. Working for an international organization such as this can make you think more deeply about making a contribution to the world. And that’s what I want to do.

How has your experience been so far?

This is the first time that I’m away from China. I might not be able to adapt as quickly as other Chinese students who have been abroad before. But I am trying my best to adjust to the new environment here and I will spare no effort in making my own contribution to UNAIDS. 

The Serge Dumont Fellowship was founded to encourage talented students to pursue careers in strategic communications and public relations. As a strategic partner, UNAIDS offers unique internship opportunities each year where students receive real-world experience in its communication programmes to make their own contribution to the HIV response. So far UNAIDS has hosted three fellows from the programme.