In May and June of 2013, Bonnie Oliver, professor of economics on the East Campus, traveled to China for a short-term study abroad course titled “Global Immersion in Business.” This was her second year facilitating the course in China, which she says was “very intense and very informative.”
A major objective of the course included students learning about Chinese culture, society, economy, business environment and history. This was accomplished by having the students engage in learning activities and lectures at Beijing and Shanghai Universities. Students were taught by Chinese faculty at Chinese universities, and they engaged in roundtable discussions with professors from the United States. The Valencia group stayed on campus at Shanghai University, but had the opportunity to interact with students from both schools.
Professor Oliver conducted a lecture on economic development and economic growth at Shanghai University, and the students had numerous opportunities to learn about how business is conducted in China. Students visited American companies such as Wal-Mart, as well as traditional and contemporary Chinese markets, which allowed them to compare and contrast how business is done in both the U.S. and China.
Students also had the opportunity to immerse themselves in Chinese culture, outside of the business atmosphere, by attending traditional events such as an acrobatic show. Visits to countryside villages and Shanghai revealed the differences between rural and city life in China. Historical points of interest were also incorporated into the learning experience with visits to the Great Wall of China and Tiananmen Square, where students learned more about Chinese society and political issues.
Four students are already planning on returning to China to study at least a semester or two, but that is no surprise to Professor Oliver: “This is what these trips are all about. The students are willing to dare to dream and embrace a new culture.”
Professor Oliver shares that during the trip she “learned as much from the students as they have learned from [her].” She wishes to thank Sandy Shugart; college president; Stacey Johnson; president of the East and Winter Park campuses; Lee Thomas; dean of social sciences; Jennifer Robertson, director of study abroad and global experience; Stanton Reed, professor of business and accounting; and external partners: Peggy Green, professor of computer technology at Davidson Community College; JB Gamble, program chair and professor of business administration of Central Piedmont Community College; and partners at Community Colleges for International Development for allowing her to be a part of this experience.