Northeastern College of Science alumna Bihe Wang, who goes by Momo, donated 7,000 masks and 34 boxes of medical gloves to Northeastern, helping in a dramatic way during a personal-protection shortage. She spoke with us about her time at Northeastern and what led her to the generous PPE donation.
Can you tell us about your journey to study at Northeastern?
It was in 2010, ten years ago, and I had just finished high school. I went through a Google pathway, which helps get international students into American colleges. I knew I didn’t want to be a business student, since so many people are in that major. So I chose to be a psychology major, and I really liked that. My professors and classmates were great.
Did you do any co-ops while here?
Yeah, I went to the Boston municipal court probation department. That was really cool. You have plenty of time to be in the court and meet with the officers, who are serious people but they were there to interact with us. Then we got the opportunity to go to the jail and talk to the probation nurses. That was the usual experience we had–it was interesting.
What else stands out about your Northeastern experience?
I joined the dance club, that was fun. And it’s nice that you can try it if you want to. Then in 2013, I went on a dialogue of civilization to Japan. About 20 of us spent Summer 1, 45 days, living with Japanese families, seeing how life and studying is like there. I think that is one of the best things about Northeastern, that it gives students a chance to live in a multicultural sense. I would definitely recommend it.
What have you done since graduating from Northeastern?
I stayed in Boston for a few months working with a friend who was working with an education program that introduced high school students from China to premier schools like Harvard and MIT. I think that was really nice because back when I was younger, I didn’t know what America was like. I just applied, then came here. Now students can go to summer camps and find out what they want.
So I worked with her on that for awhile then went back to Beijing where I started my business. I also attended Tsinghua University, the best in China for fitness and medicine, where I met a lot of entrepreneurial friends. Now I’m studying Traditional Chinese Medicine of Psychology, trying to combine my western major with TCM.
You never stopped studying! You talked about trying to combine your western and eastern majors. Was that something you wanted to do before studying at Northeastern or did your time here shape your current path?
When I first got to Boston, it was a culture shock. If you have any eastern friends, you might know we need to raise our hand before we talk, and we need to stand up to speak. You can’t just lie down in the grass, it’s very different here. In Northeastern you could say I learned how to free myself and express my thoughts and feelings. Then after spending eight years in Boston, it was like my second home, and going back to Beijing was a culture shock again. Both cultures are better at certain things. Right now, I think it’s a good thing to get a balance of both.
You recently donated 7,000 masks and 34 boxes of gloves to Northeastern during an international pandemic. Can you tell us about that decision?
I grew up in the family with doctors. Both my parents are doctors, and my family owns a hospital and we do also work with medical equipment, and have a lot of influence over medicine things. At first in January and February the pandemic was mostly in China, where the States were much more peaceful. But then after March and April, the core of it just disappeared in China, by 85%. And I figured Covid is going to spread out just like what’s happened in China and in February and January, when it was really hard to purchase one mask here. Most people were covering their faces with anything, or just staying inside entirely. When it eventually reached the States, I figured maybe schools needed masks as well.
Your supplies came at a time of critical shortage. Did you know your donation would make such a large impact?
Really? I didn’t know they proved so important. Like I said, while working in the hospital in February I saw how busy we were and thought about how much medical supplies were needed. It doesn’t matter if you’re Chinese or American, the world is just people, and people need to be helped.