GMCA students experience China

Allison Teixeira
August 09, 2012

Emerson Global Marketing Communications and Advertising (GMCA) graduate students traveled to China this summer, to take part in a four-credit course called Global Marketing International Practicum. Offered to GMCA students in place of an international internship requirement, the course is in its second year and allows students to put into practice many of the concepts they learn in the classroom.

While in China, students visted cultural and historic sites, including several palaces and gardens.

Accompanied by GMCA program director Thomas Vogel, 14 students traveled to Beijing and Shanghai for three and a half weeks to learn about China’s media and marketing industries. The course had three components: lectures and discussions about Chinese communication and culture at the Communications University of China (CUC), trips to Chinese media and communication companies that include meetings with their leaders, and trips to Chinese cultural sites.

Vogel said that the program takes place in China because it’s “probably the least familiar culture from most of our students’ prior experiences, and it’s also one of the key growing markets— the market that most alumni from our program won’t be able to not get involved with.”

Some of the companies the Emersonians visited included Doyle Dane Bernbach Shanghai, one of the world's leading advertising agencies, Edelman in Shanghai, one of the world's leading public relations company, and Mediaman Shanghai, a mid-sized, privately owned digital marketing agency. Students also saw cultural sites such as the Great Wall and The National Museum of China, among many others.

One student participant, Siobhan O’Shaughnessy, said her experience in China was “invaluable.”

“We had the opportunity to be in the boardroom with Chinese directors and managers and saw these nuanced things that you can’t learn in the classroom,” she said, “like the communication style of Chinese people and the interaction between managers and subordinates in China. There, it’s very clearly stratified; you clearly know who’s in charge, …and if you’re a professional doing business with Chinese professionals you have to be fluent in these things.”

Vogel agreed that students were able to learn cultural cues that can only be understood by visiting the country. “In China, the cultural differences strip students of all their communication skills and they literally have to learn everything new,” he said. “Everyday things, like waiting in line for example, are different in China. Our notions of personal space are not at all in place there, and cutting people in line isn’t considered impolite.”

The CUC is a noted university in the information and communication fields in China and is known as the cradle of the country’s broadcasting and television industry. Emerson has collaborated with the CUC on several projects in the last decade. Projects have included visiting scholar opportunities, student exchange programs, and a program that allowed Emerson students to work for the Olympic News Service during the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics.

Read more about the students’ experiences in China on their blog »

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