Tuesday, February 4, 2020


Chen “Hank” Zhu started working in the lab in March, 2015 and the transition from China to Chestertown feels a little like ‘we’re not in Kansas anymore.’ But he’s making the best of the quiet, country town he’s found himself in.

“I heard of this job from Theresa Capule, director of the Global Education Office, when I was intending to look for a part-time job,” he said. “When I first heard there is GIS lab, I was so thrilled, because I have a basic knowledge of ArcMap, and I’m pretty interesting in geographic stuff – getting this job would be the best thing in the world.”

Zhu did get the job at GIS, and said that the experience working in the lab is much different than his other jobs at home.
“Back in China, I had part-time job as waiter at a small restaurant in my second year of high school, and I became an English tutor at my third year,” he said. At his restaurant job, he was working just for money, which “made me so tired and exhausted every day.” Zhu didn’t enjoy what he was doing, as he was serving tables without tip, cleaning the restaurant every morning, washing the dishes, and making desert for customers. When he became an English tutor, he was able to quit the waiter job.

Now at GIS, Zhu enjoys the environment much more. “This is a more formal job to me, comparing [it] with waiter and tutor. I need to wear appropriate dress to go to work, which boosts my confidence,” he said.

In the Program, Zhu works for MHSO. He described the job as “simple and clear” – where he finds X and Y for DUI offenders’ location. As he continued working here, he took an ESRI lesson online, which gave him a better understanding of GIS and how to use ArcMap at a more advanced level.

“I started work on holiday map – DUI crashes and citation analysis, which was using given data from Highway Safety Office to analyze which area has the most accidents and citation, and print out a nice and clean PDF file so they can put more patrol teams on these areas,” he explained.

The jobs weren’t just a transition for Zhu, but the atmosphere of Chestertown was a big change too. “China is a place where people [are] everywhere, making my hometown seem more crowded than ever before,” he said. “The traffic in my town is like Washington DC, I can barely driving during the rush hours. But Chestertown is, like, the most quiet place I’ve ever been. Nobody using the horn,” he joked. “I went back to China during winter break – no doubt, I have no immune to the noise anymore. I barely could sleep the first night I got home.”

Zhu is currently working part-time on a CC project, where he digitizes New York state. He’s been working on this project because his class schedule is tight and he doesn’t have enough time to work on MHSO right now.

Being at the lab hasn’t just boosted his confidence by wearing business clothes or advancing his knowledge of GIS and ArcMap, but Zhu says it has also taught him persistence. “Because sometime, I have to do some boring and simple task over and over again, but I can’t hold any grudge to anyone or anything. The simple and repeated tasks tell me that if I don’t have persistence and patience for doing the easiest thing in the world, what else I am able to do? It is what real life looks like, I am lucky I can experience these thing when I am still young. I think it apply to any area of study and work,” he said.

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