By taking students to Hong Kong, USD associate business professor Alan Gin has become enlightened about his own cultural heritage.
“Hong Kong is like a second home to me,” says Gin. Although his mother is from the region, he had never been there before taking graduate students in 1995. “It has helped me a lot because prior to that, I really didn’t have a lot of connection with my Chinese heritage. I developed expertise as I made many trips there.”
After first taking graduate students through the Ahlers Center for International Business, Gin realized undergraduate students would also benefit from the experience, and has been taking them yearly during intersession.
Students take three-week courses at Hong Kong Baptist University, with hours in the classroom as well as company visits and guest speakers. Gin also helps students learn to navigate the cultural issues that will inevitably come with their career pursuits in a foreign country.
“It’s a culture shock to some, but it’s positive,” Gin says. “I think they get a greater appreciation for a different culture. Many are business students, so they’ve been reading about companies setting up businesses in China, and this gives them a chance to experience it.”
Gin usually surveys students before the Hong Kong trips, asking about dietary restrictions and the like. He remembers that one student wrote that he was adventurous and willing to try anything.
“Toward the end of that trip, I asked how it went and he said, ‘I’ve eaten at McDonald’s more on this trip than I have in my entire life.’”
Nonetheless, the program provides a deep view into the global nature of today’s business world. “You can read about it. You can watch videos about it,” Gin says. “But once you get there and see the culture, you learn a lot more.”
In the 2008-2009 academic year, intersession trips to Hong Kong and Beijing are planned as well as summer programs to Beijing and Shanghai. To learn more, call (619) 260-4598.