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Trip to China Offers Context to Senior's Studies

November 7, 2008

Trip to China Offers Context to Senior's Studies

Matt Siordia began his summer much the same way he has for the past three years, bumping up his hours at the
UC Merced Police Departmentin his role as a
community service officer.

Although the break between semesters started in a familiar framework of responsibilities, the way he rounded out his summer has changed the way he looks at his future.

economics majoris among the group of students paid to patrol the campus, serving as the department’s “eyes and ears.” In his role as CSO supervisor, Siordia spent those first few weeks performing the administrative duties that come with the job, including scheduling, planning events, general maintenance and gathering statistical data.

Gathering data is something Siordia does very well, and happens to be the jumping off point for what he wants to do with his life. He will
graduatefrom UC Merced in May, and has been looking closely at economic
researchassistant opportunities with the Federal Reserve. But gathering data can be a static experience, unless you understand the role it plays in a larger context.

anthropologycourse in China this summer gave Siordia the chance to see how data influences policy, which influences entire societies. The course focused on China’s explosive economic growth from 1949 to present, and the effects changing government policies had on its society. He realized his work had real-world applications, and he decided he wanted to make a difference on much larger scale.

“We went on field trips that supported what we were learning so we could see the changes firsthand,” he said. “We went to a new housing development. It was a gated community with gardens, trees, big homes - something Westerners would recognize. It was even called “John Lennon Valley.”

He has decided to apply for positions with the State Department as well, hoping to become a Foreign Service Officer conducting economic research in developing countries.

“While I was in China, I changed what I want to do with my major. I got a taste for travel and for other cultures and their economics. I want to work in embassies around the world, with treaties, trade agreements and policies that help develop a country’s economics,” he said. “I’m excited about what else I can do with my major on a global scale.”

Siordia said he finds himself looking at his classes differently, looking specifically for what he can get from them that he can apply to this new vision of his future.

“My experiences in China gave me something to measure what I’m learning against, something in the real world to compare it to – context.”

Siordia also returned to his work as a research assistant for economics professor
Alex Whalleywith the lessons from China fresh in his mind. The information he gathers from sources like the California Election Data Archive are in a new context for him; local ballot measures have taken on a whole new world of meaning.

And on top of it all, Siordia continues serving on the
ASUCM senate, helping to decide how to allot and distribute money to the various
campus clubs and organizationsthat request it during the year.