My Internship at GREE Japan this summer (of 2018) was not only educational and fun, but also meaningful on so many levels in terms of my personal growth. During my two and a half months of interning with GREE’s XR Department, I was given the opportunity to independently develop a VR immersive game for a joint kid’s workshop by GREE and JAXA (Japan’s equivalent of NASA). With the absolute freedom of choice for deciding on the game’s contents, I was responsible for developing the game from scratch to final iteration, and even got to voice act in Japanese for a guiding character I created within the game!
Before interning at GREE, I had some fundamental knowledge of using the Unity Game Engine for VR development with Google Cardboard, but have never developed VR content for the HTC VIVE. So, it was super cool to create content for the VIVE for the first time. Aside from that, through my internship, I became very familiar with C# programming, and learned a lot about game related topics specific to VR.
Although I was the very first Muslim Arab to ever work at GREE-- let alone female, my coworkers and supervisors were very understanding of my religious needs and dietary restrictions. Not only was I given a place for prayer at work, but I was also respected for my choice of not drinking or being in the company of others who drink.
Because I had already taken Japanese 6 at MIT, I could communicate well in Japanese, and was able to engage in technical conversations, as well as become closer to my coworkers and supervisors because of that. Surely, there were a few people who did speak English at GREE, but the majority spoke Japanese. So, a good command of the Japanese language boosted my internship experience, and honed my Japanese language skills further. (I even gave an oral presentation on MIT’s Media Lab projects to my coworkers and supervisors in Japanese!).
I have always wanted to become an ambassador bringing the Middle East, Japan, and the United States closer together, and through my time at GREE, I felt like I was assuming that role to a certain degree. Many people at GREE never had direct contact with an Arab or a Muslim-- let alone a person from my region—before. So, to them, in my interactions, I embodied the traits of a Middle Eastern, and through my work, the traits of an MIT student. I was even happier when several of my coworkers commented on how I was a very good representative of both my region and MIT, and that I was able to change some preconceived stereotypes they might have had about people from the Middle East. My internship in Japan this summer was my first experience of working abroad, but it was such a magical experience that I will forever be grateful for.