Diving into Education, with Fudan University

August 7, 2017

Aekus Bhathal

With almost a third of the Ambassadors representing the Education on this Trade Mission, it was beyond necessary for us to organize a meeting with local education institutions. I reached out to the Chairman of the Fudan University Alumni Association, based in Chengdu, and was able to arrange a meeting the next day.

I was not expecting an exceptional turnout, but the Chairman alone convinced over 15 alumni and current students of Fudan University to meet with Global Vision. On top of that, there were about 15 local students, all participants of the Future Links program, the official partner of Global Vision on this mission in Chengdu, led by Mr. Tony Chen. Moreover, our Global Vision delegation showed great collectiveness and 20 of our Ambassadors showed up to this meeting, all eager to learn about Fudan University, widely considered as one of the most prestigious universities in China.

The meeting started at 9:15 PM, with the host, myself, greeting the guests and introducing Global Vision’s brand and mission. I then followed by introducing the Board of Governors of the Fudan University Alumni Association and asked their Undersecretary, Mr. Sean Yang to give further insight about Fudan University. I then introduced the 9 guest speakers of the night. These Young Ambassadors all represented their respective universities – McGill, Carleton, Ottawa, McMaster, just to name a few. They did not get to give a formal speech and were assigned a specific part of the room, so that participants of Future Links and guests from Fudan University could come to them and ask them any questions regarding university applications.

Fudan University expressed their strong contentment of the meeting and claimed that they look forward to establishing partnerships with Global Vision in the future. Some of their Board members are currently working in Educational businesses and they see Global Vision as an unique opportunity to foster their mission.

            We believe that it is safe to say that such an event was extremely well received and that Global Vision should try to establish strong ties with Fudan University. It may be a small step for us, Ambassadors, to reach out to people hoping to broaden Global Vision’s circle of contacts, but it is also surely a step towards establishing strong ties between China and Canada.

 

Sky Shi,

U2 McGill University Student

 

Discovering Chendgu

August 8th, 2017

Gigi Huang 

Our day started with visiting the “China (Sichuan) Pilot Free Trade Zone” where we were given an informative tour on how the imports and exports are stocked in this area, before being distributed to other regions. Later on, we were invited to visit one of the most successful businesses in the Free Trade Zone, “The Republic of Moldova Pavilion”, to have a more in-depth introduction on how businesses from different parts of the world are able to sell their products here and how they become successful. The Free Trade Zone provides several benefits to attract companies to start their businesses here, specifically: tax benefits, shorter clearing time and tax reductions. However, the government holds control on what can be imported and what can be exported. The main Canadian goods that the Free Trade Zone in Chengdu imports are lobsters, cherries and blueberries.

In the afternoon, we were given three optional meetings to fulfill our mandates. The three options were the following: Chengdu Civil Organization Service Park, Luzhoulaojiao Group with Huaxi Securities, and Century Travel. I went to Century Travel, as I have been trying to combine tourism with real estate and education. This option was very interesting - we were given a tour of a high-end private social hall, before we had the actual meeting. Century Travel is a travel agency that focuses on middle to high-end personalized vacation planning. The Customization Manager, Mr. Zhang shared a lot of insightful information on the tourism market that Canada has in China. We learned the Chinese customers’ priorities when planning to travel to Canada. Their number one priority is scenery, followed by transportation, specifically direct flights. This also explains why the most visited cities in Canada are Vancouver and Toronto for Chinese tourists. As JTC ambassadors, with Sky representing Montreal, Akosua representing Manitoba and myself representing Ottawa, we all took turns to promote our regions and had a chance to present a pitch to Century Travel. By the end of the meeting, we were able to attract more interest to our regions, and we plan to continue to work with Century Travel in encouraging Chinese tourists to visits other parts of Canada!

Tonight was the last evening that we were staying in Mainland China, specifically Chengdu. We were lucky to have one of the largest and most popular stone pot restaurants, Jiuguoyitang (九鍋一堂) sponsor us for a delicious authentic Sichuan cuisine dinner. Personally, I am not a big fan of spicy food. However, I had a great time trying all the super spicy dishes and spent a wonderful evening with the local Chinese Ambassadors. The relationships we developed with the Chinese Ambassadors do not end here, as we all plan to continue building a bridge between Canada and China.

The night ended with our second Global Vision Education Symposium, where the Ambassadors representing education sectors were given the chance to introduce their school to local students who are interested in studying aboard. As we focused on the benefits of studying in Canada and analyzed the advantages of each university, many students and their parents show heightened interest in pursuing their education in Canada.

While we discovered Chengdu through its trades, winery, non-government organizations, travel agencies and authentic cuisine, we were able to experience a glimpse of Chengdu’s past, present, and future!

 

A Panda-stic Day

Aekus Bhathal

As our first full day in Chengdu comes to a close, I am tired, well-fed, and excited for yet another day of fun and exciting adventures.

Too tired to remember to set an alarm the previous night, I woke up at 8:40 and knew at that very instant that I was terribly late since we were supposed to leave for the Chengdu Panda Base at 8:30. Rushing down and frantically hoping not to forget any important items, I made it to the lobby just in time to catch the bus. Once we successfully managed to herd the 44 of us through the entrance and into the actual Panda Exhibits, we were immediately struck by the scorching heat. After getting to witness a few pandas, my group ultimately succumbed to the combined pressure of both the overpopulation of the exhibit as well as the midday heat and ultimately chose to retire in a café aptly named “The Panda Café”. There, we feasted on delicious shaved ice desserts while relaxing in the air-conditioned environment. At noon, we once again herded ourselves to the designated meeting spot where, after taking some well-deserving pictures, we headed off back to our hotel.

As my day progressed, I freshened up and headed down to the lobby only to find no JTC or Chinese Ambassador within sight. In hindsight, I am happy that I decided to wait for 10 minutes until some other lunchtime late-bloomers decided to show up in the lobby equally as surprised. We made the collective decision to head to the nearest mall where there was supposedly a food court. After heading up and down the escalators and asking the local mall workers where the food court was, we realized that all the food court was, was one restaurant. We needed to be back at the hotel in 40 minutes so we immediately ditched the idea of eating at the fancy sit-down and split our group apart. One part of group headed to a place called “food street”, which sounded awfully close to “street food”, setting me on edge. Not wanting to take the risk of eating street food, I made the decision to join the part of the team that wanted to go to McDonald’s and relish an old-time meal.

At 2:15, Global Vision and FutureLink hosted a combined meeting in the Crowne Plaza Auditorium where we began with an interesting game of bingo that helped us get to know each other before breaking off into groups. We were given the task of presenting a potential marketing approach for FutureLink to attract more youth to their potential Mission to Canada. One of the ideas that we thought mirrored what Global Vision has done in Canada and hosting events like Round Tables and the National Youth Ambassador Caucus that help familiarize youth with the program.

I had initially decided that I wasn’t interested in going on the food tour that was scheduled to leave at 5, but ultimately decided that it was worth the experience to try authentic Sichuan cuisine and to taste what people having been raving about. At the time that I am writing the blog, I can say with 100% certainty that I made the right decision.

Since most of us left directly for the food tour from the shrine, I took a taxi to reach the starting location for our tour. After arriving to the wrong destination, I took yet another taxi ride to end up in the right location, and was greeted kindly by Jordan, a Canadian living in Chengdu, who would be our tour guide. I had previously met Jordan the night before at the reception held by the CCTICC, and I quickly found out that he was very knowledgeable about the local food and culture. We began our tour by walking through a farmer’s market filled with the delightful smells of ripe fruits and fried meat. At the end of the food market, we got the opportunity to try a local delicacy: rabbit head. I have to admit, I was initially quite queasy about the idea of eating the head of an animal that we treat as a pet in Canada, but my concerns were quashed by Jordan, who mentioned that rabbits are one of the most sustainable animals to farm for food.

And so I did it; and I loved it. It was marinated in garlic and other herbs that added to the spice as well as the texture of the food. The meat was perfectly cooked and represented a delicate balance of every taste criteria: crunchiness, spiciness, roughness, and saltiness.

The next stop on our food escapade was a local shop that sold beef cooked in rice. It was a nice shop, but after tasting the greatness of the rabbit head, I was only able to compare this food’s tastiness relative to that - and it paled in comparison.

The last journey in what was becoming a mobile feast, was a mom-and-pop shop that sold local noodles and dim sum. I only got the opportunity to taste the noodles since I was terribly full and I am glad to say that I savored them as much as I could by that point.

While writing this entry, I am frantically trying to digest the amazing food in my hotel room and am certainly ready to be impressed by Chengdu once again!

 

A Flight to Remember

Vivian Huang

Today was Day 9 of Junior Team Canada's Trade Mission to China! The day began at the stroke of midnight as people negotiated for space in others' suitcases to make sure everyone's luggage stayed underneath the weight limit for their flights in the morning. The two flights were scheduled for 7:45 AM and 8:10 AM, so we had to arrive in the lobby, luggage in tow, for 4:30 AM. My flight was the first and left on time, while the later flight was delayed by about an hour. My entire journey from Hangzhou to Chengdu was spent nodding in and out of sleep.

Tony Chen, JTC's biggest partner in Chengdu, greeted our group as we arrived at the Crowne Plaza for check-in. He is one of the founders of FutureLink, a Chinese program modelled after the mandates of Global Vision, and the Deputy Secretary-General of the Chengdu Canada Trade and Investment Chamber of Commerce. Our schedule for the next five days and our pairings for the 1-on-1 program were distributed a few minutes prior to meeting him. Tony welcomed us to Chengdu and reminded us about our briefing in the afternoon, before sending us off to freshen up in our hotel rooms.

Just over half an hour later, my Chinese roommate walked into our room. Her name is Hanwen (Helen) Deng and she is from Chongqing. Helen is developing a platform for English communication among Chinese students, to develop practical language skills and encourage discussion on various topics. She is going into Grade Twelve and interested in coming to Canada to for University, specifically Waterloo (Go Warriors!).

At 3:00 PM, we arrived in the auditorium of the hotel to be briefed by Tony and Amy about the reception and meet the other Chinese Youth Ambassadors aside from our roommates. CYA is comprised of youth from all over China just as JTC is comprised of youth from coast to coast in Canada. I spoke with Zeel after the briefing to go over the script for his speech at that night's reception, as I was his translator. However, rather than writing a script he actually only developed talking points which I was supposed to work from. Challenge accepted.

The Chengdu reception was held at the St. Regis Hotel and called the 4th Sino-Canadian Youth Leader Economic & Cultural Exchange Meeting since this is JTC's 4th time coming to Chengdu. The reception was an incredibly meaningful event with business leaders in various fields giving addresses regarding their hopes for the future, their global vision on how they wish to see Canada and China connect as we move forward in a globalized world, and the rapid pace of development worldwide but perhaps most evident in China's ever-changing landscape.

Aekus gave the keynote speech with Gigi as his translator, and was able to share the mission of JTC - to forge meaningful connections with China and to promote a productive bilateral relationship - with our audience which included members of the media! From the CYA side, my partner, Helen, gave a speech discussing how China is moving towards the future and what Chinese youth are doing to make the world a better place, including her personal projects. Following, Zeel and I took the stage to talk about the 1-on-1 program and how significant it is that we can build close connections with Chinese youth, using this opportunity to bridge the physical and cultural divides between Canada and China. 

After the speeches portion of the reception, there was a networking session. We were served a magnificent buffet and great refreshments while being able to connect with each other. I personally got to speak with individuals working in the education, natural resources and tech sectors, among others.

All in all, our day was spent learning about Chinese culture on a deeper level and further building a network of people who we can communicate with and potentially work with in the future.

Goodbye Shanghai, Hello Hangzhou

Fiona Jochum

Last night we attempted to strategically pack our bags, after having accumulated a few extra belongings from our days in Shanghai!  Then, we rose bright and early and ran into the organized chaos of the Shanghai railway station. The voices of hundreds of travellers and the calls of the intercom ricocheted off the walls creating a deafening sound around us.

At precisely 8:05 AM, the high speed train rolled out of the station, and we were still trying to figure out how to fit the luggage of 30 people in the limited overhead compartments of the car.  Once everyone was seated, we all breathed a sigh of relief and gave a little cheer. We were all going to make it to Hangzhou safe and sound!  Our first glimpse of Hangzhou definitely spoke to its alias, "Garden City".  However, before we had a chance to explore the streets and enjoy the natural beauty of the city, we headed off to visit E-Commerce giant, Alibaba.

In Hangzhou, Alibaba has a campus of modern office buildings and perfectly manicured grounds.  We were welcomed into the reception hall, which was built to host the 2016 G20 summit and has been used to introduce the leaders of various countries to Alibaba.  We are the first group of young professionals to have the opportunity to visit the Alibaba campus.  It was a pretty amazing experience!

Alibaba is a company with a strong vision of looking at the world in a unique way and creating equal opportunity for everyone to prosper using an online network.  Each new employee has to go through an initiation and perform a handstand before they are welcomed into the Alibaba community.  The reasoning behind this is that you see the world from a different perspective, which can lead to new ideas and solutions.  Our hosts wowed us with advanced technology.  From a hallway that immersed us in a starry sky, to a fully digital storyboard guiding us through successes and future plans, we heard the story of Alibaba loud and clear.

With the increasing amount of time we all spend on our phones and using the internet, along with the desire for convenience, it is no secret that the world of E-Commerce is the way of the future.  It is important for Canada to engage in these opportunities, so that we, too, can reach new markets and connect with consumers globally.  Thank you, Alibaba, for hosting us today and sharing insight into the world of E-Commerce!

When our bellies started rumbling this evening, we ventured out into the street in search of some Chinese cuisine.  Rumour has it, the family run, cozy, aromatic noodle shop down the street was the place to be.  And, oh, this is so true!  A young lady brought us trays of meat and vegetables and followed behind with a sizzling hot bowl of soup.  Before the soup had a chance to stop boiling, we quickly added all the toppings and with a couple swirls of our chopsticks, everything was piping hot and ready to eat.  It was said that this was the best meal of the trip so far!

Bursting at the seams, we made our way back to the hotel and passed some women dancing in a fitness center parking lot. I mean, in the fresh evening temperature of 35°C, who wouldn’t want to exercise outside!  As we stood observing the scene, we thought, “why not join in?”.  This is what I love about music and the arts: it doesn’t matter what language you speak, you can still connect and communicate through sound and movement.  We had a great time dancing the evening away with the ladies and gave them Canadian flag pins as a small token of our appreciation. 

Today was the perfect welcome to Hangzhou, and we can’t wait to see what the next few days have in store for us! 

Fuelling Passion at Shanghai Shenergy

I thought that we’d go to a stereotypical office building where employees would begrudgingly talk to us about their job. Needless to say, my expectations were very wrong. From the very minute that we walked into their office, I knew it was no regular office. Apart from a designated tour guide, they had reversible walls that would seamlessly turn into flat-screen TVs.
— Aekus Bathal, JTC Ambassador

Monday, July 31st, 2017 – As JTC's third day in China came to a close the previous night, I woke up with excitement to simply eat breakfast. After quickly indulging in a tasteful mixture of Western and Chinese cuisine, we were assigned our mission roles and were asked to meet at 12:30 in preparation for our meeting with a large Shanghai-based energy company. I, for one, was very excited about this meeting, as it was an opportunity for me to explore not only the natural resources sector in China, a sector that I’m representing, but also to get another first-hand look at how business is conducted in China. I thought that we’d go to a stereotypical office building where employees would begrudgingly talk to us about their job. Needless to say, my expectations were very wrong.

From the very minute that we walked into their office, I knew it was no regular office. Apart from a designated tour guide, they had reversible walls that would seamlessly turn into flat-screen TVs to showcase educational videos. We even met the General Manager, Dr. Yang, who invited us to a roundtable at which he graciously answered all of our questions. This experience was priceless for me as I gained extensive knowledge about the roles of SOE (state-owned enterprises) in the Chinese economy, as well as how they differed from private companies. While discussing with fellow ambassadors, I learned that they, too, found the experience memorable, and I was excited to follow-up with the officials that I had met there.

For dinner, I opted to avoid eating at McDonald’s and, instead, chose to explore the Chinese cuisine a little. We went to a delicious Hot-Pot restaurant – a cuisine that I had never before tried – and came back three hours later as tired as we had woken up.

 JTC at Shanghai Shenergy.

JTC at Shanghai Shenergy.