As the plane descended through the clouds over Beijing, I expected to see China’s capital glittering across the landscape. Instead, I was confronted with another thick layer of atmosphere—Beijing’s notorious winter inversion, a fog of pollution that blocks the sky. The sudden appearance of modern architectural marvels in the gloom, towering over the few remaining hutongs, lent the city an added mystique. I was in town to attend the annual meeting of the Partnership for International Management (PIM), a confederation of top international business schools that comprise most of Goizueta’s study abroad and exchange partnerships. Luckily, a strong autumn wind cleared the air on the first day of the conference, allowing us to appreciate the beauty of the Forbidden City in sparkling sunlight.
PIM began forty years ago, the dream of three management school deans from London, New York, and Paris. They dared to ask, “What if we created a formal program for our students to attend each other’s universities for a semester?” Today, that same spirit undergirds the connections we have with 42 partner schools in 25 countries. More than 100 of our 700 BBA students study abroad each year, and we welcome 100 students from our partner universities in exchange. The annual PIM conference offers deans as well as study abroad administrators opportunities to forge new ties and learn best practices.
While in Beijing, I met with Goizueta BBA students Nicole Linderman (15G) and Osvaldo Morales (15G). They were hosted by our exchange partner Guanghua School of Management at Peking University, where they took business and language courses. Both studied Mandarin at Emory to fulfill general education requirements, and fell in love with the language and culture of China. Osvaldo found an apartment in Beijing with fellow exchange students, while Nicole opted for the more adventurous home stay.
As they regaled me with tales of their adventures, from a Chinese-inspired Halloween party to travels to China’s large and small cities, I realized yet again how amazing Goizueta BBAs are. While many study abroad participants travel in search of their heritage, a few like Osvaldo and Nicole immerse themselves in a place completely foreign. They did admit to occasionally choosing Kentucky Fried Chicken for student-priced fine dining with the flavor of home, and staying current on popular TV shows via the Internet.
At their advice, I used brief conference breaks to visit Wangfujing, a pedestrian shopping avenue, as well as Night Snack Street, the place to get everything from fried scorpions to stinky tofu. I also saw the famous Bird’s Nest and Water Cube Olympics venues on a cultural trip that included stops at Peking University and the Badaling section of the Great Wall of China. As I left China, en route to New Zealand for more partner school scouting, I felt intensely grateful for the opportunity I have each day to work with great students across the globe.
Valerie Molyneaux, Director, International Programs