Griggs Center for entrepreneurship & philanthropy
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Study Abroad in Asia 2019

This summer the Griggs Center took a group of students to Asia to learn and study entrepreneurship in a global context. Professor Jim Litton (Associate Professor and Director of the Griggs Center) and Professor Andy Little (Associate Professor and Assistant Dean of the College of Business Administration) lead the group to 3 different cities in Asia, spending time in Beijing, China, Chiang Mai, Thailand, and Hong Kong. During the three weeks the students explored the diverse cultures, business customs, and local cuisine.

Emily Goulet, a junior Accounting major, recalls some of her experiences during the trip:

What is one thing you will miss about being in Asia?

Waking up every morning knowing that there were new experiences to have and places to discover is what I miss the most. For someone who loves order and routine, there was something about not always knowing what to expect  that allowed me to be more present in every moment and that was deeply refreshing for me. I also miss the dynamics of our study abroad group, as it was dually focused on the expansion of our knowledge and perspective.

As far as places we visited, I miss Chiang Mai the most and there has not been a day since I’ve been back when it has not crossed my mind.  I have not been able to find the words that truly do Chaing Mai justice. The calm pace of life, welcoming and kind culture, and breathtaking natural landscape came together as an impassioned beautiful essence of life that I have not experienced in any other place. I hope that I will get the chance to return one day. 

What was your favorite thing you did while abroad?

There is no way for me to pick just one so I will share a few of my favorite experiences from the trip –

Our first stop was Beijing, the capital of China and although it was quick 48(ish) hours in the city – we got to learn and see so much.  The best way I can think to describe Beijing is as a great mass of humanity. Twenty-one million people in Beijing carry over three thousand years of history and distinct tradition which clearly fostered a rich culture and displayed a vivid glimpse of humanity that was completely disparate from anything I have ever known within the borders of the Western World.  We were able to visit and explore the Forbidden City as well as hike the Great Wall which ended up being some of my highlights of our whole trip.

My fascination for the palace complex which is the Forbidden City was within raw look at the Communist Republic of China.  We were able to see the intricately designed palaces built by the former Chinese dynasties and Tiananmen Square. Something shocking about our trip to the Forbidden City was the mass of people waiting in a line that seemed to go on for miles — waiting to see Mao Zedong’s embalmed body.

Getting to hike the Great Wall of China is not only one of the coolest things I did on the trip but probably one of the coolest things I’ve done in my life.  The Wall, which spans 13,700 miles is surrounded by trees and mountains that appear to go on forever. Hiking up and down the stairs made me feel so very small in the best way.  As we hiked up and down the Wall and through the towers and I was reminded how small I am compared to our God who created this vast Earth.

The experiences and excursions in Thailand were quite different from the time we spent in China.  We traveled outside the city-center of Chiang Mai to a coffee farm where we got to learn about the production of coffee from the plant to cup.  We were able to spend time with many individuals who lived in the village while learning about their culture as they taught us their coffee craft, played us traditional Khmer music and cooked us a Thai meal.  This experience paired flawlessly with the lesson we had from a Thai entrepreneur named Bay, who owns a coffee shop in Thailand. Having both perspectives made it easier to understand the Thai market for niche coffee shops like Bay’s which we saw all over Chiang Mai.

In Thailand, we hiked through Doi Inthanon, took a Muay Thai class where we learned Thai boxing, attended a Thai church, rode around the city in tuk tuks, and explored the expansive Thai markets.  

What would you tell a student who is thinking about studying abroad with the Griggs Center?

I find such great importance and meaning in the pursuit to understand people who are different than me. It is simply not feasible to think that one could understand a culture and its people without actually stepping into and experiencing their way of life which is why taking taking steps out into the world is one of the best means to expand. I would encourage everyone to sign up!