Int’l Education Week: Unique Learning Opportunities

Jennifer Ushakov
November 18, 2014

Being more of a hands-on learner, I love how much outside-the-classroom activities the IES Abroad program provides. It seems like almost every week there’s either a leisure field trip to experience a different aspect of China’s culture or a professional company visit.

My favorite day activity planned by IES Abroad has been a trip to Fudan University. A group of migrant school children visited the university that day and we taught them to sing English songs, like “Row Row Row Your Boat” and “You Are My Sunshine.” I had a lot of fun interacting in Chinese with my group of kids and learning about their lives. As migrant children living within the city limits, these kids don’t have the same privileges (access to education,  health care, housing, etc.) and resources as city-born children (China uses a system called the “Hu Kou” that has recently raised a lot of debate). Afterwards, we played badminton (LOVE badminton!) for a few hours with local students.

Migrant school children learning how to sing “Row Row Row Your Boat”

This past week, my Economics & Politics of China class went to Shanghai Volkswagen on Friday afternoon. Last year, I visited Beijing for two weeks, during which we did four company visits. One of our visits was to Hyundai. It was really interesting to go to Volkswagen and compare the two. The plant is huge and we received a tour of the floor where the car parts are actually manufactured, put together and tested. The areas were more enclosed than Hyundai, leading me to believe it’s a safer work environment. Both companies are similar in that they require at least a high school degree coupled with some onsite technical training for factory floor workers.

Last year, I remember being impressed that the Hyundai plant operates 20 hours a day – producing around 68 cars per day. In comparison to Volkswagen’s daily production (hundreds, depending on which factory), Hyundai’s output is minimal.

My professor mentioned that out of the top 10 car manufacturers in China, 8 are foreign brands and have joint ventures here. China is a popular location for joint ventures in the automotive industry. I wasn’t surprised to hear this since a lot of China isn’t as developed as Shanghai, Beijing, or Guangzhou may be. Because of this, and its rapidly developing economy, China has ample room for huge factories and new brands.

Shanghai Volkswagen Factory

The MOST bizarre observation is that some models manufactured at Shanghai Volkswagen are not for sale in the United States or Europe. When I asked why, our professor explained how all models don’t meet certain criteria, especially “emission standards.” The standard for emissions is lower in China, which is incredibly surprising since it’s experiencing much higher environmental pollution. If anything, I would think the emissions standard would be the most crucial.

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Jennifer Ushakov

<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Hi! Originally from Harrisburg, PA, I am currently a junior at the University of Pittsburgh pursuing a degree in Finance with a minor in Chinese language. I&#39;ve been studying Mandarin since high school and am incredibly thrilled to have the chance to practice my language skills abroad this fall! In my free time, I love binge watching Netflix, experimental home-cooking, and spontaneous outdoor adventures. Come along as I explore the heart of Shanghai this semester!</span></p>

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