Eighteen students from the College of Business and Economics and the College of Humanities were chosen for an overseas field trip to China during spring break.
The students, who were picked from 200 applicants, will participate in the week-long, faculty-led excursion, which will lead participants to many internationally influential cities in China, such as Beijing and Shanghai, in order to give students an even sense of both the economic and cultural impact that China has and will continue to have on the world.
“Our goal is that (students) develop a certain bonding, certain ties, and a certain appreciation for the culture, history and trade relations,” said Dr. Rafi Efrat, director of the program and associate professor in the College of Business and Economics. “So that when they do graduate, they are better able to capitalize on that knowledge.”
The trip was made possible due largely in part to a $165,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education to the College of Business and the College of Humanities.
It was over a year-and-a-half ago when Efrat approached the department of education with his grant proposal in the hopes that they would provide the necessary means to allow students the chance to experience this worldly opportunity, the only stipulation being that the grant had to accommodate the needs and interests of more than one college of education.
The grant was offered as a way to combine the interests of parallel colleges and to allow students of both disciplines to take part in a field trip that will permit them to explore and put to use the wealth of knowledge that they have gathered during their tenure as college students.
Dr. Ali Behnezhad, co-director of the project, said this grant will not only subsidize the trip to China, but will also help to enhance certain aspects of the curriculum by developing new courses that look at business from a cultural perspective as well as include many more internationally related topics in many of the classes in the college of business and economics.
Dr. Zhong-guo Zhou, an associate professor in the College of Business and Economics, has been scheduled to accompany students In order to give students a more in depth and ample perspective into the world of Chinese business and culture because the directors of the program felt that it would be best to choose a faculty member that is familiar with that region of the world.
Born and raised in the Shanghai province of China, Zhou has many friends and colleagues throughout the country that will be able to complement his abilities as a tour guide and give students a comprehensive analysis of China in terms of both ancient Chinese culture and economic trade relations.
“This is a good opportunity for me and I have the advantage,” said Zhou. “I know the culture, I know the history and I have personal connections with local government, factories, and business people, so none of that will be a problem.”
The itinerary for the expedition into the heart of China includes many well-known places. In terms of politics and culture, the students are set to visit such places as Tiananmen Square, the Great Wall and Xian, which has enjoyed a 5,000-year-old culture-rich history.
In terms of business, students will have an opportunity to visit the largest city in the Republic of China, Shanghai. While in the city, students will be able to visit the its port and will also take a tour of the General Motors plant.
Shanghai is a modern city, much like New York and Los Angeles, which won’t give participants a strong sense of culture, but will satisfy much of the business-oriented facets of the trip, said Zhou. However, taking students through the beautiful country side and possibly meeting certain minority groups that reside in the countryside should give students a good handle on the culture, Zhou said.
Kateryna Horodorychenko, 21-year-old marketing major, said she realizes that any opportunity to study abroad is chance to grow and learn and is never a prospect worth missing out on.
“Everything we experience contributes to who we are as people,” said Horodorychenko. “I don’t know if it will affect my major or my career directly, but I know that it will affect my indirectly for sure, because it will make me a different person.”
Finance and real estate major Daniel Hoffman, 21, said there are serious historical and cultural implications that make such a trip worthwhile.
“The US only has a 300-year history,” said Hoffman, “(As) opposed to China that has a multi-century or multi-millennia history.”