Graduate Students Study Abroad Trip
LONGMEADOW, Mass.—Bay Path College graduate students and faculty recently returned from a 10-day journey to Beijing, China, where they explored the country’s role in the global economy as well as its history, culture, government, business practices, and nonprofit organizations.
Partnering with Our Chinese Daughters Foundation Academic Connections, co-based in Illinois and China, Bay Path provided graduate students the opportunity to enroll in the three-credit course, which enabled them to travel to China during a break in their graduate studies. Open to all students enrolled in The Graduate School at Bay Path, 24 students, from such graduate programs as communications and information management, business administration, higher education administration, nonprofit management and philanthropy, strategic fundraising and philanthropy, and education-special education, participated in the Graduate Study Abroad Program this year. Since the study abroad experience provided three credits toward a graduate degree, all expenses, excluding airfare, were paid through the students’ tuition payments.
“During the Graduate School’s study abroad programs, we provide all our students enrolled in the class an opportunity to broaden their horizons in their respective graduate studies,” said Thomas Schorle, PhD, associate professor of English & communications and coordinator of Bay Path’s study abroad program. “By traveling abroad, our students gain a greater appreciation of cultures, and it prepares them for the challenges they’ll face as they embark on their careers in the global world.”
From the moment Bay Path students and faculty, including Dr. Schorle and James Wilson, PhD, assistant professor of business, arrived in Beijing, they were immersed in the Chinese culture and studies. Housed at the University of International Business and Economics, the students visited various organizations and attended lectures focused on an array of topics, including business customs in China, government policies, the role of nonprofit organizations in China and operations of state-owned enterprises, among other business-related issues. They also discussed the United States-China economic relationship with IBM – Greater China Region’s Government Affairs Director and Chief Representative She Duan Zhi at the U.S. Embassy and Dr. John Chiang, president of the United States Information Technology Office and former president of Motorola (China) Technologies.
The students were also required to volunteer at three sites—Agape Family Home, Harmony Outreach, and Langfang Children’s Village—associated with the Philip Hayden Foundation, which is based in Temecula, CA and Langfang, Hebei in China. The organization provides care to children with special needs or conditions, who have come from orphanages throughout China. In addition to their community service, the graduates participated in various cultural practices, such as traditional tea ceremonies, reflexology, and herbal remedies. They also attended performances of Peking Acrobats and Legends of Kung Fu, and they visited Hongcun Village, the Forbidden City, the Lama Temple, The Great Wall of China, and landmarks from the 2008 Summer Olympics, among other sites. During their trip, the graduate students were asked to pose research questions reflective of their majors to Drs. Schorle and Wilson. Upon return to the U.S., the graduate students presented their findings to their peers as well as faculty and staff.
“Beijing was cosmopolitan and so modern, making it very comfortable for the graduate students to adjust to the environment,” said Dr. Wilson. “However, everywhere we visited we witnessed the relentless entrepreneurial spirit, vibrancy and energy of China.”
The graduate students’ travels to China marks the second trip for the Bay Path Graduate School’s Study Abroad Program. Last year, graduate students and Drs. Schorle and Wilson traveled to Bangalore and Mysore, India to examine the country’s culture and emerging economy. Lee Peterson ’10, Louise Locario ’10, and Anabela Pereira ’10, participated in both study abroad trips. From the 10-day stay in India, many students, including Locario, were alarmed by the nation, which featured homeless people living in cardboard boxes next to glass skyscrapers. “I was amazed by the paradox in India. I was struck by the poverty, and how it co-existed with global business. However, when we traveled to Beijing, it was absolutely westernized, and I had no troubles adjusting to life in China,” said Locario, who is a student in Bay Path’s Communications & Information Management Graduate Program.
Pereira, who is enrolled in the Master of Business Administration program, agreed. “Prior to arriving in China, I expected to be limited in my travels because it is a communist country,” she said. “But when we landed in Beijing, I was shocked at how much it looks like New York City. The study abroad trips have really helped me understand the ways of living in India and China and today, I’m more willing and at ease to perform future business interactions in other countries.”
Bay Path plans to continue the Graduate Study Abroad Program next year for graduate students. Dr. William Sipple, provost and vice president of academic affairs at Bay Path, considers study abroad classes to be a significant aspect of the graduate students' Bay Path experience. He, along with Dr. Melissa Morriss-Olson, dean of The Graduate School at Bay Path and professor of nonprofit management and philanthropy, has asked Drs. Schorle and Wilson to plan a similar trip for Spring 2010 to either India or China. The details of the next trip will be announced during the orientation for new graduate students in October 2009.