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Midwest in the Far East-COB

 Midwest in the Far East COB title card


By Kristen Manders

From Here to There

COB at Great Wall
UW Oshkosh students from the Business and Economics in China study
abroad program at the Great Wall of China.

UW Oshkosh business student Marian Rothkegel gazed spellbound at the sight before him – the Ningbo Port in China.

Containers stacked more than 90 feet high stretched as far as the eye could see. Seven layers of neatly arranged semi trailers filled an ocean freighter, creating a massive barrier between Ningbo and the East China Sea. A lift hoisted a trailer to the top of the 90-foot stack and placed a container on the ship to be exported. Another lift picked up a container and placed it on the flatbed of a truck. The mechanical movements seemed like a dance of the giant machines.Rothkegel moved closer to take photographs, oblivious to the convoy of trucks coming up behind him.

“Hey! Hey! Come back,” says a port official in English. “You’re too close!”

Rothkegel smiled sheepishly and returned to where the others were. Later, the supply chain and operations management major, described his fascination with what he saw at China’s second largest seaport, which runs 24 hours a day, transferring about 10,000 containers on and off ships daily.

“Even seeing it on pictures does not reflect how big the entire port is in reality, from the docks, to the container yards, to the vessels,” he said. “I was surprised how organized, quick, and how automated the process was.”

Rothkegel is among 17 UW Oshkosh students on the Business and Economics in China spring study abroad program. During the three-week Spring Interim 2011 course, the students got an up-close-and-personal look at how business is conducted in China.

COB students at the Ningbo Port
UW Oshkosh students (l-r) Kyle Graham, Branden Takerian and Marian
Rothkegel from the Business and Economics in China study abroad program
pose with several students from Ningbo University at the Port of Ningbo.
The port, the second largest in the country, handles 10,000 containers daily.

The course led by UW Oshkosh economics professor Marianne Johnson and Tanvi Kothari, assistant professor of management and human resources, began in Oshkosh. For three days, the students attended seminars given by academic and industry professionals experienced with doing business in China.

“A lot of companies in the area do work in China,” Johnson said, adding that in the Fox Valley, companies such as Oshkosh Corporation, SNC Manufacturing, Kimberly Clark, Kohler, JLG and Mercury Marine have opened divisions in the Far East. “For students in business who are going to work for these companies, having knowledge of the Chinese economy and Chinese business practices is really important.”

During their time in China, the business students saw everything from Chinese export companies to American and Wisconsin companies importing to Asian markets. They visited nine companies in six cities – from a garment factory in Ningbo and the Chinese version of Walmart in Hangzhou. They also visited JLG Manufacturing, an affiliate of Oshkosh Corporation, in Tianjin.

The growth that the Chinese economy has seen within recent years has had big implications for business. China is now the second largest economy in the world, right behind the United States.

In addition to classroom lectures and company visits, the students toured historical sites such as the Great Wall of China and the Forbidden City. As part of their coursework, the students analyzed more than two dozen articles about Chinese business culture and its economy.

The trip culminated in Beijing, where students used what they learned to develop business plans that would entice Wisconsin companies to enter the Chinese market.

But first, the students had to get acclimated to their home far away from home.

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Marianne Johnson on Goals
Q & A with Tanvi Kothari
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