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July 2008

Eastern hospitality

For a group of eight students, a short-term trip may have long-term effects — especially in how they view the world.

Antoinette Elitha Williams takes in the view, which includes the Great Wall of China.

Antoinette Elitha Williams takes in the view, which includes the Great Wall of China.

A three-week study abroad program in China this summer, offered through the Department of Recreation, Tourism and Hospitality Management and the Office of Campus Activities and Programs, gave students the opportunity to earn six credit hours studying Chinese leadership styles, business strategies, culture and hospitality traditions, as well as considering their impact on global hospitality business decisions.

Under the supervision of Dr. Bonnie Canziani, Director of Hospitality and Tourism Management, Dr. Stanley Gajda and Dr. Shaozhong Liu led the study tour of seven cities and guided service-learning activities at five universities.

A substantial portion of the program was held in Guilin, in southern China. Guilin is considered to be the pearl of China's thriving tourism industry with natural beauty, historic treasures and educational institutions. Additionally, students toured Beijing, Shanghai, Xitang, Hangzhou, Liuzhou and Xi'an.

Facilitated discussions between UNCG and Chinese students allowed them to talk about the influences of Eastern and Western cultures.

“They were interested in most everything Western,” said Dr. Stanley Gajda, Assistant Director of Leadership Education & Engagement in the Office of Campus Activities & Programs and one of the co-leaders of the trip. “They were pro-Western entertainment — thrilled that ‘Mission Impossible III’ was filmed in Xitang. And they were beyond excited about the Olympics. They see a lot of opportunity with the West coming in. They see it as a better life for themselves.”

Joseph Carey, a UNCG student, noted that his experience in China was different than he had expected. “The people-powered, Communist nation that helped jumpstart the Red Scare, engaged in the Cold War and deployed tanks on pro-democracy protesters was nowhere to be found. In its place I found locals who have learned to use domestic and international tourism to supplement their incomes as farmers or petty merchants. These revelations helped shape my impressions of the new, market-oriented China where 1.3 billion people are discovering new ways to improve their lot in life.”

Another student, Matthew Sellers, strengthened his patriotism through study abroad. “When I was talking to students at the various schools we visited in China, I realized that I take many of my civil liberties for granted in America. In China, I was limited in what internet sites I could view, the television only reported positive stories about the government, and of course, the people cannot vote. The students seemed amazed that I was going to vote for the next president. When I returned to the U.S., I realized how great my country really is.”

Shawnte' Moore remarked on the hospitality during their visit. “The Chinese were so welcoming everywhere we went. At the schools we visited, we were always greeted by cheering students, smiling faces and even excited professors. Their generous acts demonstrated the importance of international hospitality and friendship.”




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