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Global Enrichment: academics to life lessons for group experiencing China

On May 27, six Lamar University’s College of Business students in Kakoli Bandyopadhyay’s Global Enrichment class boarded a plane bound for China. There, they visited some of the most renowned companies in the world, but the academic lessons they learned on the Study Abroad trip were subsequent to the new perspectives they gained. They quickly realized they could learn lessons about life never found in a textbook. 

Thomas Lalauni, Jeremy Allen, Rebekah Drummond , Lauren Frazier, Emma Lanier, Dr. Kakoli Bandyopadhyay, and Mark Murrill Many students would love the opportunity to study abroad but cannot afford it. Thankfully, generous contributions from donors and alumni, like those from the Steinhagen family, make study abroad possible for many students. The Steinhagen family’s generous gift gave Jeremy Allen and Mark Murrill experiences they will never forget.  Allen was incredibly thankful for the opportunity, “It was such a tremendous honor and blessing to receive financial assistance through the Steinhagen Global Fellowship Award,” he said.

Allen and Murrill were named Steinhagen Global Fellows. The Janie Nelson Steinhagen and Mark Steinhagen Global Fellows were established through the generosity of Janie and Mark Steinhagen to foster study abroad among graduate students in the College of Business. Steinhagen Global Fellows are awarded on a competitive basis to outstanding scholars who complete an application and essay describing how being a global fellow will enhance their educational experience and help them achieve their career goals. Recipients must have a cumulative GPA of 3.5, profound academic achievement, leadership skills and experience, a sense of social responsibility and business ethics, and clearly defined career goals.

Through these incredible expeditions, scholars gain understanding and respect for other cultures. Bandyopadhyay, department chair of Information Systems and Analysis, admitted that before the trip the class had preconceived notions of the country. From a business perspective, China has often been vilified as a country that had stolen American jobs and manufacturing.

“We always make our own judgments or opinions based on what we are exposed to. Going to China, meeting the people and visiting the factories were eye openers for us," said Bandyopadhyay, who holds a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Arlington.

Yolanda Conyers ’89, chief diversity officer at Lenovo and LU alumna, set up a tour of Lenovo Co. for the students, one of several companies the students visited, including Hyundai, Speedo, Invest Hong Kong and Crocs.

Allen on Great WallThe group’s tour guide, John Pate, was born in America and has been living the China experience for 15 years. Through the tour, he offered new perspective to the class. As the students made their way through the companies, they began to notice stark differences between business in the U.S. and China. At Croc’s China, shoes were being sewn by hand - processes that in the U.S. use machinery; Pate explained to the group that, with a population rising to 1.3 billion people, China needs these jobs to keep people employed.

Jeremy Allen, a fifth year MBA student from Beaumont, said the trip was the best he has ever taken because of the new perspective he gained.

“The trip changed a lot of our opinions,” he said. “You hear on the news and in the media what China is doing. When you go to China you see that they are just trying to help their people. They have taken jobs that many Americans wouldn't want to do and their environment has diminished as a result.”

When the team wasn't visiting many of China’s most successful companies and gaining business insight, they were experiencing the nation’s incredible culture. The students visited Victoria’s Peak, Kowloon Peninsula, Tiananmen Square and the Great Wall and toured Old Beijing. Also on the trip were LU students Thomas Lalauni, Rebekah Drummond, Lauren Frazier and Emma Lanier.

On the fourth class day, they visited a Chinese high school and were introduced to students who would soon be making their way to the U.S. to attend school. Many had preconceived notions of America. After this remarkable, eye-opening trip, Bandyopadhyay and her class had some great advice for the students, “There are two sides to every story.”