Within the framework of the MASTER OF CHINA-EUROPE BUSINESS STUDIES organised jointly by Antwerp School of Management an ESSCA, the students design and conduct each year a social project as part of the programme’s ‘Leadership and Career Development Track’. Here is their report on the 2017 experience.
By Alice Verguin, Ivan Tkachenko and Paulina Tegtmeyer.
As experts-on-China-in-making, we, the students of the MASTER OF CHINA-EUROPE BUSINESS STUDIES (CEB cohort 2017) are currently in the last stage of our journey in the Middle Kingdom and close to obtain the black belt in China-Europe business competencies, even though cross- cultural knowledge is a lifelong learning, as we all know.
Just as our fellow students in Belgium, we were preparing a project that contributes to the society we live in. For the past months, we spent our days (and nights) on researching intensively about the Chinese market, its cultural implications and the future opportunities for this huge country, that has such complex roots in traditions, history and the Confucian mindset.
Our gained insights and own experiences in Shanghai influenced our project scope to the extent that we wanted to make our modest contribution to one huge goal on the Communist party’s agenda: rising up the education level for 1.7 billion people to conduct the next “great leap forward” towards an advanced economy and a society with a growing middle class. (Of course, Chinese children are also super sweet to engage with, which probably also had an impact on our project scope:-)
During our time here, we made the experience that sharing culture and broadening your own horizon is the basis for cross-cultural tolerance and appreciation. No matter which HSK language level you achieved, showing curiosity and taking a positive perspective to strange / unknown cultures is the best recipe for successful communication and collaboration. Referring to current global politics, we can see that this skill is often lacking and therefore we wanted to lay emphasis on its relevance and necessity.
Furthermore we felt the openness of the new Chinese generation towards other cultures, languages and values outside the great (fire-)wall. As a culturally diverse group with six nationalities, we saw the opportunity to promote these values to the young Chinese generation and provide the students with an entertaining way to study English and share insights about our home countries and the Chinese experiences abroad.
To make this project come to life, we met in the morning of the 9th of June with the teacher from the hosting Chinese school and headed to the venue together. Since the previous lessons were not over yet, we used this time to prepare our presentations and to rehearse for our demanding audience. Soon the class was filled with young Chinese pupils, dressed in school uniforms which are essential for schools in China.
The English teacher introduced us and raised expectations – no pressure! Then came our time to shine when the presentations started, as the teacher passed the floor to us.
Each one of us worked on a presentation, including quizzes, fun facts and cultural questions on our respective home countries. Therefore, we prepared 6 presentations: Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Ukraine, France and studying in Europe presented by our Chinese classmates. Each presentation was meant to present each country’s culture and introduce the students to its specialties in a fun and interactive way. Moreover, some of us tried to add globalization and cultural exchange topics since these subjects were currently studied by the Chinese pupils.
The Czech presentation introduced a country the students did not know a lot about it, talking about the car industry and famous Czech citizens. Then Germany emphasized on its famous people such as Einstein, Schumacher and, of course, their beloved “Fußball-Nationalmannschaft”, the current world champions. Italy aimed at familiarizing students with its romantic cities such as Venice, Rome and Torino and the tasty culinary know-how, not to forget export hits such as Ferrari and the globally famous pizza. The presentation on Ukraine underlined some key facts about the country and addressed current China-Ukraine relations. We pursued with the presentation on France about which many students already had previous knowledge. It aimed at mentioning some cultural facts from the fantastic French cuisine to well-known buildings in Paris. Finally, we wrapped up with the last presentation given by our Chinese classmates who shared their experience abroad, including some cultural shocks they encountered while studying in Europe. No worries, we made sure that the students still feel encouraged to discover the European continent!
Throughout the event, the students were very curious about the various countries presented and the facts highlighted. They had fun participating in the quizzes and the interactions added fun to the school setting. The students were interested to gain new insights and seemed happy listening to these presentations made by foreigners, which also highlighted the importance of learning English. At the end of the day, all of us were delighted about the event and managed to exchange between various cultures. The teacher, who co-organized the event, was very pleased as well and suggested organizing it again next year to promote the cooperation between cultures on a global level.
So, dear CEB cohort 2018, be prepared: we established already some guangxi for you!