As one, we raised our hands to declare a toast, laughing as spoke. It was as one, that we sat together in the humid subways, sharing stories of our ventures from the past days in Shanghai. Finally, it was as one, that 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 that Junior Team Canada bonded through adventures, food, and learning with unchartered experiences. To backtrack, let me start from the beginning.
Waking up to the typical breakfast of the Holiday Inn was great, 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 my team and I about China’s progress in the tourism sector. We were able to take notes and exchange good discussion points for our sponsors, and the best part was that we brainstormed a plan to speak with our Mayors back in Canada. After a two-hour break, we gathered as a team and rode the subway to the Financial District. Instead of staying back quietly, despite a few of us being sick, we were determined to stick with the team and attend our important business meeting with the CEO of Manulife-Sinochem. We passed time sharing stories and laughing, and the touching part was that Chris gave up his seat for an elderly Chinese woman and 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 a great opportunity for me to ask questions and to receive insightful information. Kai, the CEO, was kind and patient with our complicated questions. In my opinion, 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 made use of this opportunity to ride the elevator to the fourth floor, and to speak with representatives and set up more meetings for team members sponsored by companies in the education sector. This was a great hands-on experience to build connections and networks. In addition, when we walked out the building holding fresh coconut water straight from their source, we saw another educational institution. We walked inside and spoke with the CEO, and we 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, but because we worked together to help each other and took initiative to build our own networks autonomously. We did not only seek out receptions to make connections, as we learned that the has world been our greatest tool the entire time - we must only to be clever enough to use it.
Following our meetings, we explored the city together by shopping and bargaining, but also working together to collect business cards, plan for our meetings, and write updates for our sponsors. This didn’t feel like an overwhelming workday, but more like a day of bonding and building trust for our fellow Ambassadors. From this, we rode back to the Financial District and ate dinner. Our day ended with a toast of gratitude, authentic Shanghai cuisine, and a night of exploring together in content.