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Midwest in the Far East-COB 3

 Squirrel Fish and Lady Gaga


Squirrel fish at Ningbo University
Fish heads: Squirrel fish, a delicacy in Ningbo, is deep-fried white
fish that is fashioned to look like a squirrel.

Ningbo - UW Oshkosh students spent eights days at Ningbo, where they were matched with Ningbo University students, who served as guides and translators. The pairing allowed students to exchange information about each other’s country and culture.

The Chinese students peppered their Western counterparts with questions like “Do you like the NBA?” and “What kind of movies do you watch?”

The Ningbo students, all English majors, were interested in learning about American culture. Their Gap-like clothing and love for American pop music gave the Chinese and American students something to bond over.

“Do you like Lady Gaga?” one Chinese student asked as she shielded her American partner from the sun with her umbrella during an outing. Chinese students are so gaga for Gaga that they have taken the old saying “Oh my gosh” and turned it in to “Oh, my Lady Gaga.”

Student Mitchell said spending time with her Chinese partner had made her more appreciative of her life in America, where the government does not dictate the number of children people may have nor whether one could pursue higher education. “My partner just loves America,” she said. “She wanted to go there so bad, any way possible.”

At the welcome dinner and presentation by the Ningbo University, the American students were introduced to their first fully traditional Chinese meal that included squirrel fish, a local delicacy, and shrimp that looked as if it had been caught immediately before the meal, complete with eyes, head and tail.

Matt Smits, a supply chain and operations management major, was surprised to see that his food – from fish to fowl -- was looking right back at him. “The first time we sat down for dinner I realized that everything is looking at you and everything has a face,” he said. “You have to overcome that cultural difference. The food was awesome, very delicious.”

What’s Really in the Closet

Kari Mitchell in garment factory in China
UW Oshkosh business student Kari Mitchell on a tour of Youngor Garment
Co. in Ningbo, which makes products for retailers such as TJ Maxx.

- UW Oshkosh students and their Ningbo partners toured Youngor Garment Co., a clothing company that has more than 50,000 employees; 20,000 are overseas. Youngor Garment has $4.89 billion in profit from more than 100 different brands. There are more than 500 Youngor shops in China and 2,000 other retailers that carry their products worldwide.

Inside the product facilities, employees in different stations hunched over pieces of men’s dress shirts. One woman sewed an arm on to the shirt; another would attach the cuff and so on.

Graham, an accounting and SCOM major, said what he saw was very much in line with the working conditions of similar facilities in the U.S.

“It also allowed me to abandon some of my preconceived notions of Chinese workers,” he said. “Every worker had a workstation, with a sewing machine or iron and ironing board. The pace that they worked at was quite fast but also very skillful.”

For Graham, seeing the workers tag and package dress shirts allowed him to connect China to his life back in the U.S. “It especially hit home when I saw Ralph Lauren polos packaged and ready to go with a TJ Maxx price tag on it,” he said. 


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