Friday, October 31, 2008

10-19-08 – Summer palace, Pearl Factory, lunch, Capital University visit, Dinner and Party

I could not sleep! I was concerned about missing the wake up call and jet lagged I guess, but I woke up about 2am and could not get back to sleep. I dozed a little on and off until the wake up call came in, and then I got up and showered and got ready. Ann and I went downstairs and had a really cool buffet breakfast. There were waffles and eggs, toast and jam, fried rice, sweet potatoes, strange watery oatmeal, fruit, juice and more! We ate until we were stuffed!

Dr. Wally told us that morning that the plans for the day had changed and we were going to be doing a university visit that afternoon. We had all read over the case, but not studied it, and we really were all concerned that we did not know what we were getting into.

We all climbed on the bus and headed for the Summer Palace. This was once the home for the emperor during the summer time. It was really beautiful, with a stunning hand painted walkway. Lei told us that they have to re-paint it, by hand, every 8-10 years to keep it looking so beautiful! He also told us that the Summer Palace was burned down and re-built 3 times, so what we were seeing was only re-built as recently at the 1940’s.

Lei pointed out the more interesting sites, like the Buddha’s temple and the Marble Boat, which was built by an emperor to show the solid nature of his rule. We ended the tour by taking a boat ride across the river and back to the bus.

Our next stop was the pearl factory, which was like that scene from Sweet Home Alabama, when we takes her into the Tiffany’s showroom and all the sales people are just waiting for her to choose. We learned about how pearls are cultivated and then we were turned loose to shop! I spent about 2,030 in Chinese money, which is about $300 US, but I was able to get a lot of people marked off the Christmas list!

We went to lunch at a “westernized” buffet, and I did not eat much. It was ok, but I was still full from breakfast and high from my pearl shopping! We then headed over to the Capital University.
Once there we were split up into teams with the Chinese MBA students to develop the case we had read before we left the states. The Chinese MBA students had already worked the case, developed their answers and created the PowerPoint. They were very happy to try to translate their thoughts for us and we attempted to give feedback and our opinions. One thing that we noticed was on one question the Chinese students answered that the particular management method would not work for all other industries such as a hospital. We disagreed, citing that a hospital is a business just like any other. After looking at their confused faces, it dawned on us that the hospitals in China aren’t a business like any other, they are controlled by the government and everyone has the same health care. This was eye opening and we started making other comparisons too.

I had started to feel like I needed to pee, so left to find the rest room. The restrooms were so disgusting that I felt ill the rest of the evening. The Chinese believe that it is unsanitary to sit on a public toilet, so their public restrooms all have “squatters” which is a hole in the floor and you have to pull your pants down and squat over the whole. They also don’t seem to believe in paper, or maybe they always have their own, I have not quite figured that out. I had some paper with me as we had been previously warned about the possible lack of paper, so I was able to make due. The smell was so bad that I spent the rest of the evening smelling it wherever I went, and whoever I came into contact with seemed to also have that lingering small of fecal matter attached to them.

While I was struggling with the restroom issue, my group came up for presenting, so I missed out on being able to speak, but really this was fine with me! Four teams presented their opinions on the case, in Chinese, and then a translator said it all again in English. The acoustics in the room made it hard to hear the English translation and I feel like I missed a lot. I would also have liked to have been better prepared for the exercise. I felt like we were probably supposed to have worked the case in teams and then contrasted with the findings of the Chinese students, but since we did not have a clear understanding of what was happening, a lot of us felt like we did not give a very good impression. I really think that the concept was a great one; it just needed better explanation up front – Something to think about next time! I really liked the Chinese students that we worked with and we exchanged e-mail addresses so I hope that we stay in contact.

After the teams presented, we walked over to a hotel for the catered dinner. We were paired with other Chinese students and got to converse with a different set of people than who we were paired with for the presentations. This was nice in the end, but started off a little awkward. The Chinese students had a tough time with our words and us with theirs, but we kept working at it and finally figured out that just speaking English wasn’t enough to allow us to communicate. I learned that I needed to say my words more slowly so that they could look into their memory banks and find the meaning behind that word. It would have been really easy to give up and eat in silence, but it was really rewarding to finally be able to communicate and have a meaningful conversation.

The party after the dinner was not like any party that I have ever attended! They played games like charades and tongue-twisters, and the whole shindig was over by 8:45pm. These people take their educations VERY seriously; I heard someone saying that they had not seen any children between the ages of 10-16, the reply was that they were all studying and that the studies in that age range were really tough.

I decided that since I had not slept much the night before I would take one of the Ambin’s that the doctor had prescribed. I took it and then a tailor showed up to make some suits for Ann and then Jim and Nancy stopped by to get her to make some suits for them too. All of a sudden, the sleeping aid hit me and I don’t really remember anything. I know that I ordered a custom traditional Chinese shirt and gave her almost all my cash to get it. I know that I showered, but don’t remember it. I do know that I woke up again about 3:15 unable to get back to sleep!

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