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2014 Summer DUFE Columbia Classroom

Date:2014-09-11   Author:IESC   From:IESC

On July 15, 2014 IESC staff welcomed its fifth season cohort to the Columbia Classroom Program at JKF airport in New York. Students in the group came from different universities in China with various backgrounds, including business, law and foreign language studies. Although they had not met each other prior to departure, everyone was excited for the coming 14-day program in the U.S. on the campus of Teachers College Columbia University.  

The Columbia Classroom Program is customized for Chinese college students who are interested in developing leadership skills, interpersonal competencies, and career planning. Through training at Teachers College Columbia University and culture activities organized by IESC, the program hopes to develop students’ self-awareness, cross-culture communication skills, and career development. During the first week, the group had lessons with Teachers College professors, learning topics on teamwork and decision-making, critical inquiries and self-reflection, cross-culture communication, as well as cover letter writing, interview skills. 

To better assist students making connection with in-classroom learning and field practices, IESC specially arranged company visit with PL Development—an over-the-counter medicine-packing manufacturer on Long Island. Company’s Vice President Edward Grimm welcomed the cohort and presented the business model and its production lines. Students had life tour at PL's manufacture plant and had opportunities to ask questions about the business, its operation, and internship potential. "It is interesting to actually see the concepts we learned in text books in real practice and how they are making an impact to people’s lives", said one of the students while looking at the just-in-time management system display on the monitor at the end of assembly line. 


In addition to having class lectures, students were assigned with task of writing business presentation as their capstone project for the training. The students worked in teams to brain-storm ideas, conducted market research, and collected online data. Some even tested their business ideas by conducting street interviews at Columbia community. Students’ plans were presented and evaluated by IESC panel of experts from the field of business and education. In the end, the panel was pleased with students’ overall performances and was impressed by some of the students’ business presentations. "I really like your idea of selling sweet potatoes products by vending machine, and I will be happy to invest your business " said Professor Valender during a team presentation. Comments like that boosted great confidences in students that they realized that their dreams could actually be more than just an idea in the future. 

IESC believes that student's interpersonal development happens both in classroom and in field. The practice of cross-culture communication between people from different countries provides new perspectives as well as insights of oneself in relationship with others. IESC staff put their best effort forward with local schools and created host family experience for this year’s cohort so that they were able to enjoy traditional American hospitality. Although it was only one night, it marked the most unforgettable experience for the students. Students talked about Chinese culture, food, families, and traditions with the local families; they tried traditional American dinner; they shared room with host families’ children. Students learned about the US culture, which had open, their minds. They also build great friendships. One of the hostesses said to a female student in the group: "Please come to study in Pennsylvania and then you live with us". Though time flied by so quickly, friendship remained vividly in everyone’s memories. 


Later in the program, the group traveled to Princeton, Boston, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. They visited the most prestigious universities, including Harvard, Yale, MIT, and Boston Universities. The students not only had opportunities to exchange perspectives with their peers in those universities, they also met with admission officers about applying to those universities. “This trip has awaken and inspired me so much, that I now have a new goal and I know what I need to do to achieve it. I want to study in New York and realize my American Dream", expressed by Zhijie in her blog journal about the trip.  
14 days might not be long, but it is enough time for students to become intimate friends with each other and with their IESC group leaders. When the 2014 Summer Columbia Classroom Program ended, students gained friendship and knowledge; they brought back home joyful moments along with further enhanced confidence, broader perspectives, and new goals for their future. 

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