Joe Plantamura '13, left, with Will Shrader '13 at the Bund in Shanghai.
How does it feel to attend a Death Cab for Cutie concert that you helped promote — in China? For Joe Plantamura ’13, a Chinese and music double major who returned to Holy Cross after studying abroad in China for a year, the answer is: incredible.
Here are five interesting facts about Plantamura, who lived in both Beijing and Shangai last academic year.
1. Deciding to major in music was easy, but it was a trip to China that led Plantamura to double major in Chinese. Plantamura was drawn to music ever since he took piano lessons as a kid and, although he has stopped playing piano, he took up bass in high school and joined a band at Holy Cross. However, the decision to major in Chinese was unexpected. During the summer after high school, Plantamura was among 10 students at his high school who traveled to China. He did not speak a word of Chinese, but that didn’t stop him from enjoying his treks through Beijing and the Great Wall. What began as a vacation blossomed into a new passion. After three semesters of taking Chinese courses at Holy Cross, Plantamura declared it a major.
2. Plantamura loved studying abroad and encourages all students considering it to participate. He notes that his mother, Mary Lawless Plantamura ’82, went to Holy Cross and encouraged him to study abroad because it is the “best thing a student can do.” She was a classics major and studied abroad for a year in Greece. “For a language major, Study Abroad serves a greater purpose,” he says. “You can study it all you want, but interacting with Chinese people is the only — and best — way to learn a language.” Spending a year away from Holy Cross was not as hard as he thought it would be. “You will not really miss it as much as you think,” he says. “I have met all new friends and have kept the old ones. I have grown a lot in the last year and I highly recommend it.”
3. He interned at Split Works, the Chinese equivalent of Live Nation, America’s biggest show promoter. Before going abroad, Plantamura had interned for Live Nation at the Warner Theatre in Washington, D.C. out of a love for music and the concert scene. In China, he landed an internship with Split Works. Plantamura was responsible for English web marketing via Twitter and Facebook and website design. He also provided security for shows. Plantamura was grateful that he had a language intensive program in Beijing before working with Split Works in Shanghai because it gave him the ability to communicate to coworkers and understand his responsibilities. Plantamura helped put on the JUE Festival, which took place over a 17 day period in Shanghai and Beijing. The featured artist during one of the concerts was Death Cab for Cutie.
4. His best memory did not involve sightseeing or other romantic ideas of traveling — it was the ability to connect with others and make friends. Plantamura was able to visit many popular sites in China including Qingdao and Xi’an, where he saw the famous terra cotta soldiers. But his best experience occurred during one of the first nights at Donghua University in Shanghai. Following a Chinese tradition, his Chinese roommate invited him out to eat. To his surprise, Plantamura showed up to find that his roommate had reserved a room for 20 of his closest friends. His roommate’s friends talked to him in basic English but once Plantamura began talking to them in Chinese the tension eased and they began to ask him questions about life in America from sports and college life to his favorite pastimes. Plantamura realized then that language was a tool for making connections to people one would otherwise never talk to. “The benefits of my studies came to fruition,” he says. “People, no matter where they live, are interested in meeting others as long as they speak a common language. I have learned to appreciate people no matter who they are or where they live.”
5. His preliminary plans after graduation include going back to China. He is still unsure about post-Holy Cross career but he is looking into a Johns Hopkins program in Nanjing where he would have the opportunity to take business courses in Chinese. He sees himself working in marketing or business in mainland China.