Sunday, October 28, 2012

Beijing Experience - Qiaoning Li

This is probably the first time in Notre Dame history that a group of 12 Notre Dame students travelled to China to participate case competition. And also the first time for GVI (Global View Initiative) to have a China session with American students visiting them.  I would say it has been an extremely wonderful week for students from both sides.

My experience is probably little bit different from other students on the team. Born and brought up in China, I had been receiving Chinese education for 18 years of my life. I have always thought that I am no different from my Chinese peers. However, through this trip I found out that Notre Dame education has already made me different. A good example would be the approaches Notre Dame students and Peking Univ. students took to solve the case. Notre Dame students are more focused on framework, the “big picture”, while Peking Univ. students are more focused laying out all the details. In interpreting the case, Notre Dame students are more creative, while Peking Univ. students more realistic, focusing on Chinese economy.
Both approaches are equally important and valuable. And I believe this is probably the reason why our team was able to stand out.

Other than case competition, we had also done a lot company visits, Sino-Steel, China Ocean Shipping Company, Microsoft, and also Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business. It has been very interesting for us to learn about how State-Owned-Enterprises to change their business strategy to accommodate a more open and competitive market and how foreign companies establish their business in China.

Food is definitely great! We had the chance to try many different kinds of Chinese food. Yunan cuisine, hot pot, Peking Duck, Sugar Coated Hawthorns, and even Corporate dinning hall!

This is definitely an unforgettable experience. And I hope we will continue our partnership with Peking University and see some of the smiling faces coming to Notre Dame next spring!

Beijing Experience - Nicole Gantz

                My trip to Beijing during Fall Break 2012 was by far the best Fall Break I’ve had so far. I competed in a case competition at a Chinese University, was exposed to Chinese culture, visited a few Chinese companies and, best of all, made friends with 11 incredible Notre Dame Students.
                During our trip, we collaborated with students from Peking University to work on a case competition. Working with the students from PKU was a very interesting experience. Their work styles were somewhat different than ours in terms of preparedness and efficiency, but in the end, we were able to successfully work together to put together a great presentation about the green energy movement in the auto industry and how this affects Chinese companies.
                To immerse ourselves in the Chinese culture, we went sight-seeing and tried to local delicacies. We visited the Great Wall and the Forbidden City, and had a blast at both. We hiked to the top of the Great Wall, took stroll and about 1,000 photos at the top, and then we rode toboggans down the mountain to the bottom. We made sure bring “The Shirt” to show off our Notre Dame Spirit and we also got several photos with an Intermediate Accounting textbook.
                Rather than coping out and eating at one of the many American fast food chains in Beijing--yes, we saw plenty of Pizza Hut, KFC, and McDonalds—we decided to embrace the local cuisine. Nearly all of our dinners were served family-style on a Lazy Suzanne so that we could try everything. My favorite restaurant experience on our trip was our meal at Peking Duck; I finally understand why everyone raves about it. Also, on our last night there, we decided to try some street food, which was fantastic.
                To gain firsthand business experience,  we visited several companies. Our first company visit was to Sino-Steel, which had a great vantage point of Beijing. Sadly, it wasn’t too clear that day, but we were still able to see quite a bit. We also had the opportunity to meet a company executive and eat in their cafeteria. Second, we visited the China Ocean Shipping Company. The speaker as COSCO did a fantastic job and gave us some great insight into Chinese business practices and the global shipping industry. Our final company visit was to the-oh-so-familiar Microsoft. We had the chance to demo several different Microsoft products, which was a ton of fun, and the speaker also gave us some great perspectives on business in China as well as Microsoft’s place in the market.
                The best part of the trip was making friends with 11 incredible ND Students. Everyone on our trip brought a different perspective to the table and everyone had really interesting insights and experiences. I’m convinced that everyone that went on this trip is going to change the world for the better and I’m excited to hear about their future endeavors. Thank you Frank Potenziani, Monica Laidig, and SIBC for this opportunity, it certainly wouldn’t have been possible without any of you.

Case competition preparation - Ava Lee

Each group got together on Wednesday afternoon and night to go through how much each team has researched so far and consolidate all the information Notre Dame and PKU students have found so far. With the information gathered, both teams divided the case questions and determined what question to focus on initially before getting back together the next day to put together the research and presentation slides.

Throughout this process, since we prepared the initial questions without any cooperation between the two sides, we realized there were significant differences between the ways the two teams conduct research and prepare slides.
When preparing the final slides, we once again discovered major differences between the way both teams work, conduct research, and put together final slides. While both teams both had extensive knowledge on the topic through the initial research done, we ran into troubles trying to consolidate the information found.

There were a couple of challenges involved throughout the process.
First, it seemed like Notre Dame students were much more prepared and skilled in finding the appropriate data needed for this kind of research. Through the projects we do in class and the training we have received from our various business classes, we know how to get extensive data from sources like Capital IQ, Factiva, and various industry reports effectively. However, it seemed like the PKU students didn’t have ready access to these types of information, and were in fact surprised when they saw the research reports we have gathered online.
Second, it took longer for the PKU students to gather their information and translate them into slides because English wasn’t their first language. They did all of their research in Chinese and then had to translate that into English appropriately. Throughout the translation process, a lot of the terms got changed and it was hard for them to often convey what they intended to. However, despite the fact that this slowed down the process, we were very impressed by how they were able to pull this off in a very short amount of time.
Third, there were significant differences in how the teams prepared presentation slides. One conflict we had to resolve was whether to put the conclusion or the most important point of the slide in the title or as a textbox at the bottom of the page. We could see the difference in how we think and present our materials – while we are used to having a heading for the slide at the top, and putting a general conclusion at the bottom, Chinese students preferred to put the conclusion on top as it would convey the message quicker and faster. During the process, instead of insisting on one method over another, we accepted the differences in thinking, and this in itself was a valuable experience for all members.
Overall, it was gratifying to see how delegates from both teams were willing to work together and accept differences in thinking and presenting, and in the process, learn more about each other. There were some funny moments for our SIBC team that we just laughed about, and I am sure there were some things Chinese students found funny about the way we did or understood things. Beyond the research everyone did on the industry and case topic, I would say the time spent working with the Chinese students would have been the part where we all learned so much more and will value forever.

Beijing Experience - Verona Lu

                There were numerous highlights in the Beijing trip and it was definitely my best fall break ever. The activities that impressed me most are the company visit to Microsoft and the excursion to the Great Wall. I was really surprised by the fascinating technological products exhibited in the Microsoft Beijing office, and from the presentation by a professional, I developed a profound understanding of the strategies and operations of the technology industry in China’s market under the globalization. Additionally, although as a Chinese, I have been to the Great Wall twice before, the trip to there was still a very special memory for me. It was really exciting to take a Fighting Irish group picture on the Great Wall!

                We also experienced some cultural differences through the collaboration with the Peking University students and thought there is something that may be improved in our Beijing trip next year. For example, our Notre Dame group did not have much interaction opportunity with the Chinese student group that we were supposed to work with, and there appeared some communication problems due to distinctive ways of thinking and working. I hope that during the group work in next trip, students from both sides could have more collaboration and idea exchanging rather than purely follow the instructions of group leaders, and thus develop a closer personal friendship at the end of the case competition.



Opening Ceremony

Peking University Library

Peking Univ. Weimin (unnamed) Lake

Sino-Steel Company Visit

Company visit to Sino Steel: "Peace through Commerce"

Group at the Forbidden City

At the Great Wall

Mu Tian Yu Village's only barefoot doctor

Beijing Experience - Pat Boduch

The SIBC trip to Beijing was the first time in my life that I had traveled outside of North America and it was one of the best experiences of my life. After this excursion to the Far East, I now want to travel everywhere in the world and see as much of it as I possibly can. I love the novelty of being in a foreign place where even a simple drive down the street can become an experience in cultural immersion. That is perhaps the most important thing I got out of the trip and I know it will affect my decision in both where to study abroad and where I choose to travel when I am abroad.
When I think of my week-long experience in Beijing, a hundred great memories come to mind, but there are a few which stand out in particular. The first novelty which comes to mind is the food. While the meals in the PKU dining hall were quite similar to what we experience at Notre Dame, mainly just swiping in and then picking out your food, the restaurant experience was quite different. Most meals in restaurants involved common dishes which were passed around or shared between the eaters at the table. This struck me as very different from say, eating out at Buffalo Wild Wings, where you order one thing for yourself and wait 30 minutes for your food to come. In this case, the food is brought out over the course of the meal, with dishes slowly being added to the table until it is inevitably filled up. I’ve found that this sort of communal eating is more conversational and was a welcome change to what I’m used to. Also, chopsticks were a perpetual challenge throughout the week. It was very hard at first to work them, and it was odd having my fine motor skills tested in such a strenuous way for the first time since Kindergarten. But, after many mistakes and suppressed smiles and giggling from waitresses, by the end of the week, I felt somewhat comfortable using the chopsticks instead of a fork. And so I’m proud of that.
                Another aspect of the trip which stuck out was the hospitality of the students at Peking University. They were incredibly friendly and were willing to talk to anyone at any time just for the sake of having a conversation with you. Many times, I had some of the PKU delegates just come up to me out of the blue and start up a conversation. This was awesome and something which you don’t see too much of at home. And besides that, I found them genuinely curious about our thoughts and our experience at their university. They were constantly asking if we were doing okay and what we thought of their campus. They were also quick to recommend a restaurant or pick up bottled water for us and deliver it to our hotel room. They wanted us to have a wonderful time and their friendliness went miles for our experience.
                Finally, the city of Beijing was incredible. The city consists of a series of rings which expand upon each other and makes the city seemed to stretch on and on. I found this quite different from a city such as Chicago in which the downtown area seemed to be retained to just one area or one street. In Beijing, I thought we had passed the downtown area only to find the line of skyscrapers stretched on and on and on. The city is massive, which is slightly intimidating especially trying to navigate the city but it is also amazing to see so much going on.
                Overall, the week-long trip was awesome and anyone who is considering applying for the trip next year should not hesitate – you will never regret spending your Fall Break in Beijing!

Bejing Experience - Ben McGowan

Traveling to Beijing to partake in the SIBC-GVI case competition was an incredibly rewarding experience.  Working with the Peking University students was both fun and challenging.  Incorporating our different cultural differences in the development and presentation of our project, allowed all of us to gain a boarder perspective on business and general ways of thinking.  Additionally, being able to visit and learn more about companies like Microsoft and CISCO provided the opportunity to further understand international relations with China and the US.  This insight is particularly interesting during this time of rapid economic growth in China, and the increasingly important role China plays in international economy.