Monday, February 6, 2012

Studens gain first-hand knowledge of China's global power

Michael Addessi radically embraced the basic concept of "new experiences" during the Business School's annual undergraduate field study to China. He leaped from picky to passionate in the cuisine category.
The senior Finance major from Hudson was one of 10 business students and two faculty who crossed the Pacific to engage in academic programs, company visits and cultural experiences in Shanghai, Beijing and Suzhou.
"We have an obligation as educators to provide our students with new and wonderful experiences in other parts of the world," said Dr. Carolyn Mueller, leader of the May expedition. "The field study really opens students' eyes to the amazing differences in culture, living styles, food and business practices."
Food photographs are a main theme of field study albums. Everyone is encouraged to taste a few exotic foods. Addessi needed no encouragement.
"I consider myself a picky eater," he said. "But in China, I tried everything. I ate scorpion, silkworm, bird's nest, starfish, grasshopper, cow tongue, duck tongue, chicken feet, baby pigeon, quail egg, chicken heart, chicken liver and ox. I figured this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I needed to try as much as I could."
Kim Quintin and Hannah Nguyen negotiate for pearls. Food is only part of the story.
"We went to some incredible manufacturing plants," said Drew Whitaker, a senior General Business major from New Canaan, Conn. "Each one gave us a different perspective of what doing business is like in China."
The students engaged industry leaders in meetings and manufacturing plant tours of General Electric Aviation and Haworth furniture. They gained business insight from American entrepreneurs at Wise Dragon Academy and met with media and public relations experts about business coverage in the booming country. Academy owners Stephen Berning and Christina Homan hosted the group in Suzhou.
Steven Berning, (BBA '04), conducts a seminar for the China Field Study. "Everywhere we went, huge buildings were under construction," said Scott Pearson, a senior Finance major from Carterville, Ill. "Between Shanghai and Suzhou, there was constant construction on apartment buildings and other high rises. It was very impressive."
Accountant Elizabeth (Lisa) Frickert, a senior Business Administration major from Davenport, admitted that before going to China, her conception of Chinese business was colored with a "sweatshop" stereotype, but that impression quickly disappeared.
"GE Aviation and Haworth were state-of-the-art companies," she said. "Their energy efficiencies and initiatives were considerably more integrated into their daily operations than any company I have ever worked for. If not for the commute, I would be happy to be employed by either company."
Michael Addessi's enthusiasm for China is no secret. Besides business and food, the field study included a large helping of culture that ranged from day-to-day scenes on waterways to conversations with people in markets and on crowded streets, and visits to nightclubs and historic sites.
Students and faculty wandered through the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square, visited the 600-year-old Taoist Temple of Heaven and the Yonghe Gong Lama Temple (one of the largest Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in the world), hiked along the Great Wall and cruised the Huang River flanked by Shanghai's historic and modern iconic buildings.
And they did far, far more.
"China is a major global player, and will continue growing in importance to businesses around the world," said Mueller, chair of Management and International Business. She was accompanied to China this year by Dr. James Mallett, Finance Department chair, who will lead the 2011 China Field Study.
Cruising on Kunming Lake to visit the Summer Palace in Beijing. With each trip, said Mallett, the Business School strengthens its contacts in China. The trip helps give students a "superior educational experience in the very different culture of a rising major world power," offering insight into global economies and job and business opportunities.
It's "critical," said Mueller, that the school promote and support these international experiences for students to see how business works in China and other countries, and to meet business leaders who share first-hand knowledge: "It helps open their eyes to wonderful opportunities they may not have considered before."
The undergraduate field study was the fourth Asian field study undertaken by the Business School in the last 18 months, two of which were for graduate students. One included Vietnam. Other field study destinations are being planned for 2011, including Malaysia


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