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2014 Winter DUFE Columbia Classroom

Date:2014-02-08   Author:   From:IESC

"This experience is fantastic!" said Mia with great excitement when asked to describe the Columbia Classroom Program in one sentence. Along with 23 other students, Mia , a sophomore from Dongbei University of Finance and Economics, studying Business English, chose to participate in the Columbia Classroom Program because she knew she would come to the US for further study. 


The Columbia Classroom Program is a 16-day training program focused on leadership, personal development, and the US culture. During the first week of the program, students study at Teachers College, Columbia University. Topics include Business Planning, Cross-cultural Communication and Business Research Skills. A highlight of the week is when the students, working in teams, must demonstrate their learning by preparing and delivering a presentation to a panel of experts made up of university professors and experienced business professionals from local, New York companies.  


To help the teams prepare their business plan, students were encouraged to do online research, visit businesses in New York City (NYC), and conduct interviews with locals who would be their target market. One team prepared and distributed a survey to gather first-hand data for their marketing analysis. 

Kongyang Cui, who was brave enough to interview five people around the Columbia campus, told the reporter that she found this training experience so powerful; she would never have thought she could do such a task if it were not for the program training and requirement. "I will never forget this valuable experience that I was able to interview strangers on the street in a totally different country!" she said. "Hearing what regular people say about what they think of our business opens my mind and prompts me to think outside of the box." Kongyang's team was interested in starting a toy museum business in NYC.

Other teams developed business plans for a clothing shop targeting Asian student community, a food cart providing Chinese local specialties, an online food delivery service serving the greater Columbia community, and a jewelry shop that incorporated a holistic wedding service. The teams presented their business plans to the panel of experts on January 18th followed by a question and answer (Q&A) session by the panel. Students found that the Q&A session was especially challenging because they encountered questions about their businesses that they had never thought about. This, in turn, helped them learn more about leading a discussion of business planning in the US culture. 


After an intense week-long training at Columbia University, students toured around New York City and after visiting Washington D.C., later flew to the “golden state” of California, where they visited Universal Studios, Disneyland, Stanford University, UC Berkeley and the Intel Museum in Silicon Valley. The program concluded in the beautiful city of San Francisco. After such an enjoyable trip, the students embarked back to Dalian with courage, knowledge, and a whole new perspective. 

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