As one we raised our hands to declare a toast, laughing as spoke. It was as one when we sat together in the humid subways, sharing stories of our ventures from the past days in Shanghai. Finally, it was as one, as we walked along the busy streets of the Financial District, meeting people as we went. I could express this as just another day of business meetings but in reality, today was the day of Junior Team Canada bonding through adventures, food, and learning through unchartered experiences. To backtrack, let me start from the beginning.
Waking up to the typical breakfast of the Holiday Inn was fun but astoundingly normal. The real fun began when I had my first meeting on the phone with a Trade and Tourism of China executive who spoke with me and the rest of my team about China’s progress in the tourism sector. We were able to take notes and exchange a good discussion for our sponsors, and the best part was when we brainstormed a good plan to speak with our Mayors back in Canada. After a couple hours of break, we gathered as a team and rode the subway to the Financial District. Instead of sitting quietly, despite a few of us being sick, we were determined to stick with the team and attend the important business meeting with the Manulife-Sinochem CEO. So we passed time sharing stories, laughing, and the touching part was Chris giving up his seat for an elderly woman to which he received an applause from all of us in the subway.
The meeting itself was helpful, especially for me. I’m sponsored by an insurance company, so it was fun for me to ask questions along with the rest of my team, where we received very insightful information. Kai, the CEO, was kind and patient with our complicated questions. In my opinion, I think the best of opportunities happen coincidentally, so I was pleasantly surprised to find out that in the same building of Manulife, we found an Educational institution. We used the opportunity to ride the elevator to the fourth floor, and speak with representatives and set up more meetings for team members sponsored by the Education Sector. This was a great hands-on experience to build connections and networks. To add on, when we walked out the building as a team with coconuts in our hand (because we were thirsty so we thought, why not drink fresh coconut water from a coconut), we saw another Education institution so we walked inside and spoke with the CEO and were able to set up a meeting for the next morning.
These experiences were not significant because of the success of gaining a meeting to benefit our sponsors, it was significant because we worked together to help each other, and take initiative to build our own networks without someone holding our hand. I don’t need a reception to build my connections because I learned the world is my tool but I have to be clever enough to use it.
With the meeting, we explored the city together, shopping, bargaining, but also working together to collect business cards, plan for our meetings, and write updates for our sponsors. This didn’t feel like a workday, but more like a day of bonding and trust for one another. So from this, we rode back to the financial district and ate dinner. That is how the day ended, to a toast of gratitude, authentic Shanghai cuisine, and a night of exploring together in content.