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      Trip to China

      Annual Trip to China Includes Visit to Chongqing Business

      Visiting a Chinese business

      Students from Widener visited the Stone Tan China Acquisition Corp. offices in Chongqing.

      Widener University has been taking groups of students on short-term study abroad experiences to China for nearly a decade, but this year the travel itinerary included something new: a visit with a special group of Widener “alumni.”

      The group paid a visit to the Stone Tan China Acquisition Corp. office in Chongqing. The company is a subsidiary of Pacific Millennium Corp., whose president is Widener University Trustee Richard Tan. Stone Tan has sent a contingent to Widener University, twice a year, for five years. The group experiences a three-week residential training program through the Oskin Leadership Institute.

      Past participants of that experience graciously welcomed the Widener travelers to their Chongqing office for an afternoon of discussion about the history of the company and Widener’s relationship with it, said Paula Silver, associate provost for global engagement, who led the trip. They affectionately refer to themselves as Widener alumni, she said.

      The visit included a tour of the financial district around Stone Tan’s offices, a presentation on Chongqing and its economic outlook and lots of networking with Stone Tan young professionals, who were eager to practice their English skills with the American visitors.

      “It was an effective way to immerse ourselves in the business culture, through the employees,” said student Jessica Kowalski, a business major who will be a senior in the fall.

      Silver said the experience did an excellent job of exposing the American travelers to a Chinese corporate workplace, and it was nice to hear the Chongqing professionals speak so highly of Widener.

      “They feel they’ve been able to apply the principles of leadership and collaboration they learned at the Oskin Institute, and make their workplaces special and unique,” Silver said.

      Stone Tan has also been a generous sponsor of the Chongqing excursions, which take place each May. This year’s group was gone for 25 days and included Widener students and students from Delaware County Community College, which collaborated with the university in order to offer the study abroad experience to its students. An annual donation from Stone Tan helps offset travel costs for Widener students who enroll for the trip, which is preceded by a 10-week seminar class.

      The entire opportunity is made possible through an academic exchange and cooperation agreement between Widener and the Chongqing Technology and Business University.

      “It really was a transformative experience for our students,” Silver said. “They reported having a sense of China they never would have been able to capture in reading about it here.”

      For Kowalski, the experience minimized any distance that was once between her and international students from China. She said she better understands their culture, and has deeper insight into their backgrounds.

      “I feel like I have much more to talk with them about now,” she said.


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