After a relaxing five days in Cambodia, I hopped on a plane to Shanghai to begin CAP.
I’ve been looking forward to this trip for a while, not the least because I’ve been working on this project since January, and it feels good to finally start seeing the fruits of our labor. My class has been working with a nanotechnology company in China on what is basically pro-bono consulting work, helping our client formulate various business strategies. The class was split into three teams, and I had volunteered to lead one of the teams since after a semester of watching and learning from my business school classmates who were coming from the industry, I finally felt ready to take the lead on a project. So far it’s been a great experience, and I’ve been very lucky with my fantastic, hard-working teammates.
Anyway, after months of reports, mock presentations, and Skype calls with our client in China, this project is finally culminating with us flying to work with them for several days at their headquarters in Changsha. The trip isn’t all business, however; we’ve also got some educational and tourist activities built into the schedule, and we’ll get to spend some time in Shanghai and Beijing.
Our China adventure began on Sunday with two days in Shanghai. What a beautiful city! To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I arrived. One thing about having spent so much time in the U.S. military is that for so long I was conditioned to believe that China is our enemy, and that bad and terrible things would happen if I associated with the country or its people in any way.
Other than an experience with a very aggressive fake taxi driver at the airport (dude took my luggage and tried to steer me away from the official airport taxis and toward his private car in the parking garage; thankfully I was able to grab it back from him) my experience has been pretty positive so far. The language barrier is significant – this is the first country I’ve ever been in where the standard broken English + subpar attempt at the local language + various hand signals have not quite been enough. Also, it’s taken a little bit to get used to the fact that people don’t line up in China, they just barrel through with no regard to anyone else. It makes getting off the airplane an interesting experience.
Shanghai is a very beautiful city, and during our one full day there we were able to tour some of the more famous sites.
The day culminated in an awesome dinner cruise along the … river, enjoying some local cuisine while getting to see the city lit up at night.
Soon, however, it was time to head off to Changsha, where the home stretch of our work begins. We were sad to spend such a short time there, although we’ll be back next week for a couple more days. We did take the opportunity to sign the guestbook at the airport.
In the meantime, it’s off to go work. Next stop: Changsha!