Palm Beach Atlantic University business students visited eight companies in China this summer, ranging from a tea plantation in the city of Hangzhou to Modern Terminals, a cargo shipping company in Hong Kong.
The 11-day international business trip was part of two academic courses. The 38-member group included both graduate and undergraduate students in PBA’s Rinker School of Business, as well as alumni, faculty and even some parents.
"The visits were varied enough to give a nice composite of China," said Kim Ladd, assistant professor of business and PBA’s director of career development.
The group also had an opportunity to ride the bullet train from Shanghai to Hangzhou during the trip. Riding the train was "truly amazing," said Jose Candelier, a student in the University’s MBA program.
For most of the students, the trip was their first to the country of 1.3 billion people.
"I did not picture China to be as developed as it is," said Nicolette Anderson, a student in the MBA program. "I actually thought I would see a lot of unpaved roads and very little infrastructure. I was very pleased with the choice of business visits ... I’m looking forward to the next trip."
Ana Rabell, who also is in the MBA program, found the trip enlightening in multiple ways. She was surprised by the amount of pollution the group encountered and how densely populated the cities are. Nor was she expecting to have to pay for ice.
"In the U.S. ice is expected to be free, but in China it is made from bottled water," she said.
"This trip brought everything to life and gave an opportunity to understand the culture, business, government and the people in greater richness, and to explore other areas that may not normally be covered in the classroom."
At a number of the businesses, the group encountered Americans, Europeans and other expatriates who came to China to work for a year or two but who ended up staying, said Audy Johnston, assistant professor of leadership and management.
Chinese businesses value these workers for their leadership skills, she said. "They want to become a global force," Johnston said.
Dr. Langlois noted that as a result of the trip, several students are now considering working abroad. Based on the students’ interest in Hong Kong, the 2012 global trip will be to Beijing and Hong Kong, Dr. Langlois said. The trip dates are May 9-21. Applications for the trip will go through The Center for Experiential Learning.
"PBA business students are learning hands-on about conducting international business in China. The International Business travel course has kept increasing the breadth and depth of what their students are experiencing," observed Dr. Randy Richards, director of The Center for Experiential Learning.
"There’s nothing like visiting another country," Dr. Langlois said. "It opens you up to being more culturally aware of what’s going on around you."