Spotlight on Ohlone:
Students spend a summer in China

By Tina Karimi, Opinions editor.

Thursday, September 30, 2010—Reprinted from Monitor.

Group of people. The Global Immersion group in front of the China Pavilion at the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai. —Photo courtesy of 2010 Global Immersion Program.

Since free market reforms were first introduced in the late70’s, China’s economy has expanded rapidly, transform ing the country to a bona fide superpower.

This year, China surpassed Japan in the second quarter GDP and became the world’s second largest economy, be hind the United States.

Some experts estimate that China could surpass the US and become the world’s larg est economy as early as 2030.

The opportunity to see China in this critical stage of transition as it ascends to economic domination was given to nine Ohlone College students.

The students: Elson Luk, Richard Le, Daniel Yang, Mark Speers, Diane Koralic, Long Nguyen, Vivian Lam, Grace Ye and Sarah Hashemi, were accepted to the Global Business Immersion excursion program in June of 2010.

The program was led by Christine Bolt, a professor of Business Administration and Technology, and was accompanied by Cynthia Katona who is a professor of English and Women’s Studies.

The group spent June 1-24 in China, splitting their time between the cities of Shanghai and Suzhou.

Chinese women dressed for dragon performance. Dragon ladies pose before their performance at the Dragon Boat Festivals. —Photo by Sarah Hashemi.

Bolt said “China was chosen as the first trip destination because it gave the students the opportunity to see an economy transition success fully from a planned economy to much more of a free market economy.”

“China is in the midst of an industrial revolution, with an emerging middle class and consistently high Gross Domestic Product growth,” she continued.

Participating students were required to register for the two-unit Global Business Immersion class, which is a part of Ohlone’s recently created International Business Certificate.

The new certificate program is funded by a federal grant that was awarded to Ohlone in Spring 2008 by the Department of Education.

The grant partially subsidized the China Immersion trip, cutting the cost to $1,999, which covered tours, airfare, accommodations and group meals.

Living in another culture for three weeks was “a great experience,” said International Business major Mark Speers. “I learned a lot about how the Chinese people live efficiently in such a crowded space. The business aspect was also interesting because the people would rather get to know you than deal with business in the start.”

Students participated in a variety of educational and cultural activities, including visits to several businesses and tourist attractions.

The group visited manufacturing plants such as Caterpillar, Bao Steel, TT Electronics, Nilit Nylon Technologies and Avery-Dennison, where they were able hear from speakers on topics concerning international business.

During the business meetings, they were able to view operations and hear from various speakers on topics encompassing every aspect of international business.

Bao Steel, a state-owned company, is the largest steel and iron producer in China and the third largest steel producer in the world.

The group, hard hats and all, toured the massive Shanghai facility widely known by the locals as “a city within a city”. They walked down the length of the facility while watching a white-hot metal brick pounded out into thin sheets of steel.

While in Suzhou, the majority of business meetings were located in the SIP, or the Suzhou Industrial Park.

The students were alsoable to visit King and Wood Law Firm and speak with several of their partners, including the first female partner of the law firm.

The Chinese based firm, which has offices across China as well as one in Palo Alto, had represented the Chinese government in all legal matters involved with the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics.

“This trip has definitely given me a broader knowledge of the international business world,” said Richard Le.

“ I have learned that China is now the main place for businessmen and corporations who want to expand their operations and ventures. China’s economy is on the rise and it shows no signs of slowing down,” Le continued.

One particular highlight of the trip was the Shanghai WorldExpo—featuring pavilions showcasing the cultures of countries all over the world.

Business major Vivian Lam said, “We had a wonderful time there. Most of the pavilions were interesting and they really demonstrated the cultural differences between the countries.”

Although China is a thoroughly modern nation, evidence of its long history is always on display. For all the industrialization the country has undergone, traditional businesses continue to thrive.

The students witnessed this when they visited a tea farm in a small village on an island in the middle of Lake Taihu and during their visit to a traditional silk factory.

In Suzhou, students participated in a cultural excursion, the Dragon Boat Festival, or Duanwu. It is a traditional holiday featuring dragon boat racing and performances.

Other cultural visits included areas such as Qibao, an Ancient Town in Shanghai, the Humble Administrator’s Garden and Master of Nets Garden in Suzhou.

“From my perspective the Global Business Immersion: China study abroad program was a tremendous success,” said Eddie West, director of International Programs and Services at Ohlone.

West said “We had nine highly motivated students, from diverse backgrounds visit Shanghai and Suzhou, and were able to witness a country that is dynamic and rapidly modernizing, on the one hand and yet steeped in rich culture and tradition on the other.”

“China is going to exert more and more influence on the world in the future. It’s important that our students gain a better sense of the country, its people, traditions, history and perspectives and vice-versa. I think the program this summer helped foster that mutual understanding,” he continued.

Two more Global Business Immersion trips abroad are being tentatively planned, according to Bolt.

One group of students will be taken to China again and the other group would go to Japan, which will be Ohlone’s first study abroad trip in that country.

Students in learning more of this program are advised to browse the International Business web site: featuring information on study abroad, the International Business certificate and photos from the China trip.

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