International Emerging Leaders Program

at Collegiate School


April 2016

Learning about Business in China

Reflection by Dalton R

On our first day in Shanghai, we visited WestRock, a packaging business with presences in Richmond and in Shanghai. We heard a presentation about how the company operates, and how their business differs in the Asian market. I found that this opportunity was incredibly educational and valuable. In the past, I have studied economics both inside and outside the classroom, and I plan to major in the subject at the university level. However, I had never had the opportunity before to truly study economics or business outside the United States. In WestRock’s presentation, we learned how the Chinese market was different, and how the Chinese economy has acted in recent years. We discussed how the Chinese economy is currently undergoing a change. Previously, much of the Chinese GOP was created by government spending on infrastructure and manufacturing, in an effort to propel China to the top of the world economy. However, now, with China’s economy now a world power, the country’s economy is transforming into a consumer economy, where domestic consumer products will drive the country’s GOP. It was fascinating to learn about this change, and to see how a business was adapting to changing times.

The purpose of our trip to China was to learn about the relationships between the United States and China. Our visit to WestRock in the beginning of the trip acted as a building block for the educational opportunities throughout the rest of our visit. Whether driving through Shanghai, observing a class, or walking through a Chinese market, I was able to connect what we learned about the Chinese business and their economy. 


Reflections on the Homestay Experience in Yangzhou

By Kirby K

Going into this trip, I was quite hesitant about the homestay experience. I have heard all of my life about how different daily life is in China and I knew that I would be put out of my comfort zone. As soon as I walked in the door of my host family’s apartment, I was given slippers to wear instead of shoes. Dinner consisted of traditional foods such as pork, eggs, rice, and fish soup. The dinner went on without a hitch, except for when I managed to spill the fish soup on my lap. My chopstick skills were still developing.

The following week with my host family were beyond eye-opening. I was constantly learning about new traditions common in Chinese households. Hospitality is extremely important in Chinese homes – I was given gifts and a large meal prepared by my host mother as soon as I arrived every night. Even though neither of my host parents spoke any English, their smiles alone made me feel welcome.

There is no doubt that I was out of my comfort zone for much of my stay at the house but I am very grateful for this. If we had, for instance, stayed in a hotel, we would have constantly been surrounded by fellow Americans. Being entirely secluded from the people and customs that we are used to made us appreciate where we were and what we were learning much more.


Kirby and the students he hosted in Richmond and was hosted by in Yangzhou. The reciprocal exchange strengthens both the connections between the students and the insight for all involved.

Reflection by Mackenzie M.

My host family and Miranda was very nice and made me feel at home even though their was a language barrier with her parents. The first night, I walked into a beautiful apartment and I was shown to my room for the week. I soon learned that the room I was staying in was Miranda’s room. I assumed she would be sleeping with me but she told me right away that she would sleep with her mother so I could have my own room, which was so generous of them. Once settled in, I went to eat dinner with her family including her aunt who had come over to make me a special tradition Chinese home cooked meal, and I was shocked by the amount of food that was placed on the table. I learned that in China, families make multiple dishes and eat large portions three times a day. Miranda never snacked or ate unless we were all sitting down or it was a planned meal. I enjoyed the meals with Miranda’s family, and they even bought me dumplings in a bag  for breakfast and they were delicious. 

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