129 Biltmore Ave: Where My Dream Takes Off

Written by Liang Gong

Alliance is the first organization that I worked with outside campus here in United States. As an international student at Duke University, I kept trying to gain an opportunity to work in the industry before I applied for the Stanback Internship program. I am a Masters candidate at Duke majoring in Engineering Management with a concentration in Construction Management. Many people question the reason I joined the non-profit organization Dogwood Alliance which helps to protect Southern Forests. One of the most significant reasons is that buildings and their surrounding environment cannot be separated. For example, the construction industry and the environmental industry both follow the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) and both relate to energy conservation issues.

I am a Paper Industry Transformation Campaign intern at Dogwood Alliance. My goal was to help develop the framework and methodology for the “Southern Paper Company Report Card” which details the companies’ progress on key measures and creates a race-to-the-top across the sector. In my research, I utilized my supply chain management knowledge to evaluate the whole life cycle of paper products. When I was attending a dinner meeting with my supervisor, Andrew Goldberg (Dogwood’s Director of Corporate Engagement) in Charlotte, I met different stakeholders in the paper industry and heard the voices of different perspectives, which helped my research and gave me a unique understanding of corporate engagement.

Every morning, I input “129 Biltmore Ave” in my GPS and drove to the Dogwood office through downtown Asheville. I came into the office and settled down at my table and said hello to everyone who walked by my work station. These simple, repeated actions gave a sweetness to my memories at Dogwood Alliance.

I enjoyed the time I spent with my colleagues. The comedy bus LaZoom showed me the concept of “American Humor”. Even though my cool supervisor instructed me on my research seriously in the office, he was teased by the comedienne several times on the bus. Yes, they enjoyed that kind of interaction. We also went to a baseball game together: Asheville vs. Greensboro. The tempo of the game was slow, but I learned how the locals celebrate victories. Of course, the funnel cake was my favorite. The fireworks after the game were amazing. I even got my picture taken with the cute Asheville Teddy Bear mascot. During Independence Day, I was invited to Development Director Patrick Fitzsimmons’ home to celebrate the holiday with his family and friends. Patrick is the most knowledgeable director I have ever seen because of his white hairy-face. 😉

I’d like to express my sincere thankfulness to my supervisor, Andrew Goldberg. He instructed me all though my research. I would also thank Scot, who answered my questions so carefully and patiently. Helen, your elegance impressed me. Amanda, your smile is so sweet! Suzanna, you are the most stylish singer I have ever seen. Patrick, such a cool man!

My dream starts off at Dogwood Alliance, and now it is well on its way.

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