May 28, 2017
By Cory Cravalho
This was our second day in Beijing. We took taxis to the university in the afternoon and were off to visit our second school, Renmin University of China. Here we would be hearing a few presentations from the graduate students attending the university’s Executive MBA program as well as presenting a few of our own. The students that attended this program would work during the week (many for large corporations and companies) and then attend school for their Masters on the weekends. It was so funny to see how excited and ready these Masters students were to talk to us about business and life in general.
We were welcomed with a large round of applause and smiles all around. The two presentations that the Gonzaga students presented were dealing with Alibaba and WeChat. Alibaba is the Chinese equivalent of Ebay where anyone can go online in order to sell or buy a desired item. While WeChat is an application downloaded by almost every smartphone user in China. This application is all popular American apps (Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, etc.) but put into one platform. This application is also commonly used for maps, texting, as well as a way to pay friends or a business. Wechat is growing at an incredible rate and may very well expand to places like America and Europe within the next decade. It is such a good platform for anything a user needs. It is amazing to see how different the appl;ications we use in America are to those used in China. Wechat is basically the only app used. This has to do with functionality but also the fact that the government regulates what citizens can and can’t use. Hearing about these upcoming companies was very interesting, especially from the perspective of students that have not necessarily used the products they were presenting on. For example, all of my classmates as well as myself had never heard of Wechat before studying our cases on the app. We also all downloaded Wechat as a form of communication amongst ourselves as a group in China. The MBA students gave very good insight to us on both presentations and filled us in on some of the future of these companies. Many of the Renmin students were curious about the future of these companies in America, which does not seem likely due to all the existing competition already in both marketplaces. One of my favorite presentations from the Renmin University students was on JD.com. JD is a marketplace similar to Amazon in the United States. The presenter really focused on comparing the two companies and it was very cool to see the similarities and differences. Amazons layout is much more simple while JD.com has a lot going on and many products being pushed on their website. I realized that there is a huge difference in how things are presented in Chinese culture vs. American culture. Chinese consumers really want to see everything and want all aspects of a website or company laid out for them right off the bat. In America, it is more about being aesthetically pleasing and more organized even if it means having to search a little more for what a customer is looking for. The MBA students were so welcoming and eager to learn from anything we had to offer. It was refreshing to see a group with such enthusiasm and excitement to study and learn new things.
After the presentations from both University students, we had a short Q & A and then concluded the session. We then split up into small groups to get dinner with the students. My group went to a small restaurant on campus where me as well as a couple other classmates were treated to a very large dinner by one of the students. I have learned a lot about Chinese culture throughout this trip and one common theme is how generous they are to any guests as well as how friendly and welcoming they are. We ate fish, noodles, rice, pig ear, and many other interestingly flavored dishes that I would not think I would try before this trip. The food was all so amazing and the conversations we had were very insightful. We shared some things about American culture and they shared many of their own culture. It was very funny to be complimented on my use of chopsticks while usually I struggle to pick up anything with them. We talked sports, politics, and their business lives as well. Connecting to students through WeChat has been a very cool way to keep in touch with some of the students that we meet.
Once we departed for dinner the Masters students had to rush to take their final exam for the class we were visiting. It was crazy to see them go from presenting to foreign students, to going to dinner and then going straight back to take a Final Exam. The dedication they show to school is unparalleled. After saying goodbye to our new friends, we journeyed back to our hotel, which was harder than usual due to a windstorm. Many Zags stayed inside and waited for the storm to blow over but a few of us stayed out and ventured to find a ride home. After about 30 minutes of trying to call a taxi to get home, we finally were able to flag one down and get back to our hotel safe and sound. Beijing is such a large and cultured city and we are all very excited about the rest of our stay here with so many attractions to see. The Great Wall, The Olympic Village, and the Summers Palace just to name a few! More than halfway done with our trip and we have already seen and learned so much about Chinese culture and Business. Next stop is Ningbo where we will visit our third and final University and finish up with our presentations