NORTHWEST COMMUNITY College (NWCC) business students spent six weeks in China as part of their program to experience another culture and learn how other parts of the world differ from us.
Seven business students travelled to Qingdao, China, which has a population of 4.3 million and is on the east coast of China.
Business administration coordinator David Try went over for three weeks with the students and travelled around with them. The students also had time to see tourist destinations like the Great Wall and some stayed after their business class time was over to see more of the country, said Try.
While in China, students took two classes, an introduction to Mandarin and a course on doing business in China, both of which counted for transfer credits toward their diplomas, said Try, who spent time there teaching English to Chinese students.
The NWCC students were in classes Monday through Friday and in the afternoons they took part in cultural events.
They were paired with a Chinese student, so they could help the Chinese students with their English and the Chinese student could help them with Mandarin, said Try.
He took them because going to another country teaches you a lot more about the culture and the people than just learning about it in class here.
“There’s no way you can teach culture,” said Try. “Really, you’ve got to show people cultures. You’ve got to experience it and live it.”
China seemed like the logical place to go with his students because of the container port in Prince Rupert and the increasing trade with the country, he added.
“Their country is 5,000 years old so what does that mean for culture and how does that translate into language?” he said.
He said they all laughed a lot, practised being good guests in another land and formed friendships with their Chinese counterparts.
“They (Chinese students) would take the Canadian students home to visit their parents on weekends,” said Try.
The group saw the third biggest port and took a ferry to it where they could see hundreds of container cranes compared to the three container cranes in the port in Prince Rupert, said Try.
“I watched their eyes light up, watched how many times we laughed and how many times they said ‘holy cow’, or ‘wow’ or ‘oh my god’ or all three,” he said.
“I think they…develop an awareness of different cultures, realize all the things that that entails. We’re not all living in Northern America. You can’t come back without feeling a profound sense of gratitude for the clean air and clean water,” he said.
“They said they had a wonderful, hugely enriching experience. All students said the same thing,” he said.
Bobbi Boyd, one of the students, said she went on the trip after hearing how great it was from the first group that went last year.
“China is doing big business with companies in B.C. including Terrace and Prince Rupert. I thought that any knowledge or experience I would gain could possibly help me in my future career plans,” she said. The experience made her appreciate living here.
“I am so lucky to be Canadian! I always knew that but being in a place like China really puts it into perspective,” she said, adding that she learned several things that will help with her career. “Learning to be adaptable is important in any business or career and knowing that there are cultural differences that can affect business relationships.”
Being adaptable, competitive, more flexible and resourceful can help you, especially when you can’t communicate with most people in another country, she said.
But when you can communicate, it leads to great memories.
“There were times when language wasn’t a barrier though and the unique bonding that happened in those times is something I will cherish. Whether it was with a sales lady helping me dress behind a makeshift sheet change room, or when offering my seat to an elderly person on the bus.
“Humans have so many universal expressions and emotions that can do all the talking for us sometimes. A smile and laughter is so powerful,” said Boyd.