The Global Trade Mission is a summer study abroad experience offered to Niagara University's MBA students (and sometimes undergraduate business students) to meet with business professionals overseas. Not only does the experience expose students to the global economy, but it also serves as a valuable cultural immersion opportunity.
In 2017, students ventured to Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hong Kong, China, to tour companies and meet with local business executives in key industries.
The graduate study abroad program is a great mix of professional visits, sightseeing and leisure. Group tours and excursions are planned during the day, while ample time is left for students to explore on their own in the evening.
Adviser Dr. Peggy Choong, professor of marketing, has been organizing the Global Trade Mission for nearly 10 years in order to expose students "to emerging trends and opportunities in countries undergoing dynamic changes in their economies, culture and industries." Choong is an excellent professor who cares deeply about her students' knowledge and understanding of the business world, and serves as the ideal adviser for this international experience.
Advisers for the Global Trade Mission try to cover a large scope of business areas by incorporating meetings with several different companies. In 2017, students toured companies in the areas of marketing, finance, consulting, supply chain, investment, and manufacturing. These companies included GAC Motor, Bank of China, DFS Group, and the Hong Kong Trade Development Council.
One company favorite among students was the Bank of China, which had a unique presentation that included a tour of the company's museum. Kelsey Braham, slated to graduate in May 2018 with an MBA in accounting, said, "(As) an accounting major, I got to ask specific questions on how they do business within the bank and the employees were very open and honest in their answers."
GAC Motor was also a top pick for students, including MBA strategic marketing major Jennifer Mireles, who expressed how interesting it was to see a manufacturing process line live.
Company visits were not only informational, but served as valuable networking opportunities. The meetings went beyond a simple explanation of the business, and students had the opportunity to ask in-depth questions about challenges, opportunities and disparities facing that sector of the business world. Participants were empowered to apply what they absorbed in the classroom to the discussion for an enriching learning experience.
Dipping into Chinese Culture
China is known for its immense population, sprawling shopping districts, bargaining markets, booming business industry, unique foods and beautiful sights. The Global Trade Mission encompasses the professional environment of China, but isn't shy about diving into the cultural aspects the country has to offer. Every day (with an experienced guide), students toured local cultural and tourist attractions, such as Buddhist temples, countless markets (to practice their bargaining skills and stock up on souvenirs), museums and gardens. The Zhujiajiao water village of ancient Shanghai, with its waterways, shops, and traditional food, was a student favorite.
According to students, one of the best (and sometimes very interesting) experiences in China was sampling the local cuisine.
"Traditional Chinese dinners are conducted as family style in which a big round table is in the middle and you slide the table around to get to different foods," Braham explained. "I thought this was interesting and a great way to share a meal with the ones you love."
Food during the trip was plentiful, and everyone had the opportunity to try small portions of an abundance of different dishes. Students tried numerous types of meat and fish (even jellyfish!), rice, vegetables, dumplings, soups, and seasonings. Tasty vegetarian options were always included as well.
Some students, including MBA strategic marketing major Rachael Ruszkowski, want as much time as they can get to visit a foreign country. The Global Trade Mission is a 10-day immersion, but students are welcome to extend their trip before booking if they desire. This allowed Ruszkowski to travel with a small group after the Global Trade Mission to experience the countless wonders of Beijing. The ability to extend the trip is a perfect option for those who want to do some extra traveling while they're already abroad.
NU's Global Trade Mission is an opportunity for students yearning to gain an enriching educational, global and cultural experience.
"I recommend the Global Trade Mission to other students who are inclined to explore the world and would utilize this opportunity to understand how these emerging markets function," said MBA strategic marketing major Jonathan Grenda. "It's a great chance to refine your understanding of the world and to find opportunities for your future growth in the business world."
"Students will be able to gain a once-in-a-lifetime experience by meeting individuals from different walks of life, learning one of many cultures that affect the world we live in today and by connecting acquired knowledge from school with a marvelous experience," added Mireles.
"This was a wonderful opportunity to see what business is like in other countries and to interact with another culture," noted MBA international management major Angela Kendt.
Choong enjoys the experience as well, saying the most rewarding part is "being able to witness firsthand how students blossom and flourish as they experience new cultures and learn in the best experiential way how to do business in other countries." The trip is "affordable and the benefit is priceless," she said.