My Summer Internship – The Power of Respecting and Preserving Cultural Heritage

Justin Qin

Since college, I have been trying to make a difference in social impact and sustainability.

Starting from 2012, I volunteered in South Africa for one month to provide underprivileged kids with quality education. Subsequently, I participated in reforestation as well as marine conservation initiatives.

It was then that I realised, compared to traveling abroad, it could be more impactful to help my local community first.

This is not only because I have a deeper understanding of the environment that nurtured me. It's also easier to leverage existing resources to deliver results.

Giving up a paid corporate internship is not an easy decision, but I am honoured to be sponsored by Hoffman Institute that offered financial support to help me deliver a positive impact using what I learned from the first half of the INSEAD MBA programme. 

I grew up in Xi’an, one of the most ancient cities in East Asia with over 3,100 years of city history. It came natural to me to shift my focus to cultural heritage preservation and promotion, which surprisingly is one of the most underrated and overlooked sustainability activities (UNESCO).

Therefore, I decided to intern at Han Tang Stone Sculpture Museum in my hometown to empower local cultural heritage awaiting modern development.

Han Tang Stone Sculpture Museum

As a non-profit organisation (NPO), the museum has made a lot of progress and has been rated as a national third level museum. Yet private museums in China are still highly underprivileged, receiving scarce funding and do not receive systematic support.

While the museum embodies ancient Chinese sculptures, calligraphy, and religious elements, I believe the art collection is not confined geographically or religiously. The delicate art pieces belong to the entire humanity and deserve to be well protected, be seen by more people from afar, and be used to not only prosper local community but also to deliver positive influence to people globally, resembling the values of both INSEAD and the Hoffmann Institute.

At Han Tang Stone Sculpture Museum, I worked with a team to integrate humanistic inquiry with latest technology and design, exploring innovative, interdisciplinary ways of showcasing art and culture through immersive installations, exhibitions, and digital publications.

Han Tang Stone Sculpture Museum

Using digital tools such as 3D modelling, design hardware and software, and cloud-based AI such as Midjourney, we created digital arts that transported participants beyond the here and now, across the continuum of time and space to promote cultural heritage across the border with creativity.

Besides digital transformation, strategy and operations, I also helped with curating a temporary exhibition and a museum rating application. 

Han Tang Stone Sculpture Museum

We lose a piece of our past every time things of historical and cultural value suffer damage. The historian in me weeps at the loss of knowledge, priceless art and history. The work of many that came before and dedicated their lives to the cause. We can’t replace that, and that is why cultural preservation is important.

When we respect history and cultural heritage, it becomes possible for us to learn from the past and light up the road ahead.

This internship experience was supported by the INSEAD Hoffmann Institute Impact Internship Stipend and gifts from alumni.