Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Rishika Rana, Truly Blessed

Rishika Rana shares the blessing of the American Business Experience:

Whenever I was asked how American business experience was at St. Ambrose University, I always responded “truly blessed.” St Ambrose University, a place where we, a group of 10 girls, were fortunate enough to experience a different culture, learn new things, meet new people and enjoyed every single moment.
American business experience is a summer program which focused on making the students familiar with the various business practices followed by the American businesses. All the students were not only taught the American business aspects but also how to understand the business arena from global perspective. We had seminar sessions and field visits everyday to have the practical experience and to supplement the theory taught.
This program was focused on various business topics which included Ethics and Sustainability, American business in 20th century, Business Research, Operations management, Innovation, Accounting system, Women entrepreneurship, Marketing Strategies, Financial Institutions. The field trips included Living Lands and Waters, ALCOAJohn DeereRoyal Neighbors, Quad City Times , Hill and ValleyGenesis Systems and Happy Joe's. As business students, we were able to relate the topics taught to the various practical cases we visited. Every day taught us something new.
Apart from seminars, we had an opportunity to learn how to go about with the Etiquette dinner the rules and guidelines to be formal, the way to arrange the cutlery; the way to eat etc. This event was very interesting as I could implement this in future when I have to attend a business meeting. We got an opportunity to volunteer in the Race for the Cure which gave a great feeling. We also got an opportunity to visit the radio station of Davenport and it was amazing to see how a radio station functions.
The overall experience at St. Ambrose University was learning as well as joyful experience. I learnt something every moment spent there. Apart from the subject knowledge, this trip had inculcated many values in me. The people, habits, cultures had taught me many things. As a person I grew and became a better person.
Rishika Rana

Monday, August 29, 2011

Chicago Reflections from Janita

The American Business Experience (ABE) included a trip to Chicago.  Janita Anthony shares the journey:

               “Chicago” that was something which brought a smile on everybody’s face. Everyone was super excited on the thought of going to the “Windy City”. Though the excitement was on a high, the very thought of leaving St. Ambrose University which had been our home for almost four weeks was saddening. None of us wanted to leave the university and go back home.
                 We reached Chicago on the 16th June at around 11 in the morning. We were
 staying at the Hyatt Place. We then set out to explore the city. First, we went to the Shedd Aquarium but unfortunately we could not get in to the huge queue and our time constraints. So, we took a boat and went to Navy Pier. There we sat in the ferris wheel and merry go round.  Later, we went to the Willis Tower which is a great attraction in Chicago. It gave us the most beautiful view of the city ever and we all loved being on the 103rd floor and it was indeed an amazing experience. On the second day we went to
Michigan Avenue. That whole day we spent only shopping. We went to the mall as well as the stores on the street.
               And then it was time for us to leave the beautiful city. We all loved the place so much that none of us wanted to go back home to India which was quite surprising. We still have all those lovely memories with us!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Journey Continues

Back in March we decided to write closing reflections on our wonderful several-day journey to India.

But our journey actually continues. First, because these simple pages continue to be opened, having been viewed more than 2,000 times in recent months.  Second, our engagement with the people of India continues.

In May and June, St. Ambrose University hosted the second American Business Experience (ABE), with 10 students from the St. Francis College for Women as our guests on campus, in Chicago, and on site at many businesses and other organizations in the Quad Cities region, here in the heartland of the United States.

Our students' story was featured in the Deccan Chronicle, as Lessons from America

Dr. Xiaowei Liu, Shares Finance Insights at ABE 2011
As relationships have grown over time, a young tree now represents the St. Ambrose University relationship with India: A Tree, a Relationship

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Final Reflections on the Journey

            For me the trip to India was an insight into a part of the world and its people which was entirely new to me.  Going literally to the other side of the world brought me in contact with people who were warm, gracious and hospitable to a degree I had hardly ever experienced in my life.  From our visits to colleges and universities to our visits to companies like Deere and Rockwell-Collins to sharing a meal in with an Indian family in their home to attending mass in the dark at 6:00 in the morning in a parish church in Hyderabad, all of it left me with a sense of a people with an ancient and rich culture.  The trip also showed me both the high-powered hi-tech centers of densely populated urban areas to the countryside where people were living in make-shift housing much as they have been for centuries.  The contrast between wealth and poverty were stark.  The energy of the people was palpable, and their pride in their culture and history was evident wherever we went.
            For us, the possibilities of joining with various groups in India appear great.  I was heartened to see us take some steps with several institutions of higher education which will, in time, provide for student exchange and potential collaborations by faculty on research topics of mutual interest.  Dave and I greatly appreciated Arun’s cultural sensitivity and insights which helped us in our conversations at every point and, I’m sure, prevented us from making many unintentional cultural missteps.
            All of this seems to me to take us one step closer to being a university where the sense of the wider world will grow stronger each year, a place where our students, indeed all of us, can become more aware of the global village we all inhabit.
            India, and these two weeks, will remain with me for a very long time.

Arun: Left Moline for India on March 7th, just about fourteen days ago. Journeyed through New Delhi, Hyderabad, and Pune before returning back to New Delhi to take flight back to the US. As I look back, days moved fast, appointments and places blurred into each other; it felt good to meet colleagues and strengthen existing relationships, and also feel the promise and prospect of new and exciting next steps for the College of Business and SAU. We are beginning to understand the role of US-India educational cooperation frameworks and the work of facilitating institutions, and we glimpsed modern India in motion.

The last two weeks saw a great push forward on SAU's India agenda. As I review our trip two things come to my mind: Consolidation and Platform for Growth. We signed an MOU with St. Francis College consolidating the groundwork done by our Center for International Education and COB in the last couple of years. We undertook significant discussions with University of Hyderabad and FLAME School (Pune) for study abroad, research, and other scholarly exchanges. The discussions with varied institutions, regulators, and US companies in India can be platforms for future growth.

On a different note, I feel a great relief too. What were Sr. Joan and Dave thinking, coming with me to India? Well, they were thinking: food, customs, protocol, heat, food, hovering helpers, saying no, bottled water, autorickshaws, traditions, blog, right-of-way on city streets, buffaloes on Cyberabad roads, heat, traditions, and did I mention food and heat? The differences in culture, weather, traditions, educational practices, and protocols made for some interesting situations. Overall, I am glad that Sr. Joan and Dave had fun too on the trip.

I write these comments on Sunday morning, Delhi time.

Last night we arrived, tired from the day's travel from Pune.  I mutter, wrestling to get the internet service to work in this comfortable hotel. I look out the 5th-floor window. A man stands in his underwear 100 feet away on the roof of the next-door building. Since it is not Bathsheba, I look again and see laundry drying in the hot Delhi sun. Five floors below and across the street another man walks along a row of nicely potted plants in his courtyard behind a tall masonry wall.

The College of Business strategic road map lies on the window-side desk next to this computer: Strategic Issue II: Foster Global Awareness and Skills....Students will be prepared to be effective professionals in a global environment.

Breakfast. I visit with a man from Portugal. Working out of a German office, he manages several manufacturing operations, including one here in India. He talks about the wonder of this country. He talks about the quality of his product, with tolerances measured by the micron. He speaks about corporate settings where a worker of one caste might supervise another of an upper caste; a complicated situation.

Much of our trip has been in a prosperous and modern slice of the nation. We have had meetings in  sparkling facilities with gracious professionals. We dined with a warm and welcoming family. We have seen enough to know we have also touched down in a land in which the economic contrasts are huge, yet the middle class is expected to double in the coming several years.

While this journey was lived by just a few of us, may we learn from and alongside the people of India. May the story belong to many.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Tale of Indian Hospitality: Dinner with Amrit and his Family

Amrit with his Family
[Right to Left: Amrit, his wife Kritika, their daughter Dolphin, and Neelam (ABE 2010 student)]

On March 12th, we left New Delhi for Hyderabad where, upon arrival, we were greeted by (Dr.) Sister Alphonsa Vattoly, Principal of St. Francis College for Women, and Mr. Amrit Talreja, the coordinator of exchange activities of St. Francis College for Women with SAU.  Sister Alphonsa had visited SAU in Summer 2010 when four of her students attended the inaugural "American Business Experience" (ABE) at SAU. Both of them greeted us warmly with beautiful bouquets of flowers to welcome us to Hyderabad.

This far south in the country we experienced 'high summer' with temperatures in the mid-90's.  Our hotel, in central Hyderabad was just 15 minutes from St. Francis College and would be our 'staging area' for the next four days. 

On the first evening, to our delight, we were invited to experience Indian hospitality in Amrit's home where we would meet three generations of his family.

Upon arrival, we met Amrit's family living together in a beautiful home which he designed himself using his background as an architect. 

His mother, sister and two brothers live together in a four-story home designed, decorated and furnished in an elegant Indian style.

After greetings, we settled in for the first of three rounds of what would be ultimately 21 courses of Indian cuisine. 

Over the next few hours we shared stories of our families including the opportunity to see a family photo album.  In the picture below, you can see (Left to Right) Amrit, Dolphin, Kritika, Sr. Alphonsa, Sr. Joan, Neelam, Dinesh, and David O'C) viewing the family photo album.

Dolphin (Amrit & Kritika's daughter) Takes a Sip

The entire evening wrapped us in sense of gracious hospitality which ended in an exchange of mementos.  How fortunate we were to be welcomed into an Indian home!  It will be one of our lasting memories.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

John Deere in Pune

For those of us from the Midwestern U.S.  "John Deere" means many things. It is a strong and important presence in the Quad Cities, with the world headquarters just several miles from the St. Ambrose campus. It is dealers sprinkled across the heartland. It is many wonderful students in our classrooms.

With a presence in 160 countries and 43 manufacturing facilities worldwide, Deere is also a major global company. Our initial conversations about John Deere in Asia were facilitated by Mr. Jim Field, John Deere's Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer.

We Pass By One of the Many High-Tech Facilities in the Area

Yesterday we visited with Mr Ranjit Nair, Managing Director and CEO, John Deere India Pvt. Ltd.  Some 5,000 people are now employed by John Deere India, and a commitment was recently made to invest $100 million in a new manufacturing facility in the country.

The Deere technology center is located in a booming high-tech section of Pune graced with many modern office buildings.

One striking insight from our conversation with Mr. Nair: there is absolute commitment to the John Deere values as they conduct business around the world.

As a point of interest, one of our St. Ambrose Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) students has recently returned to the U.S. after a year-long post in an HR capacity in this region.

A FLAME in the Desert

On Thursday we traveled to the Foundation for Liberal and Management Education (FLAME) . Just as the College of St. Francis differed from the University of Hyderabad, FLAME differed from them both.

Our trip through Pune was the most intense of them all so far: a constant game of chicken waged with oncoming cars. We were in a scene from 'Vanishing Point.' With a frequently blowing horn and an alarmingly close call with a pedestrian, it was a blessing to exit the city and begin winding through the nearby hills.

Mr. Parag Shah, with Sister Joan Lescinski
Many switchbacks later I looked to the left to spy the only golf course I have seen in our two weeks in India. And several turns later we drove onto the campus of FLAME.

The school, only a few years old, is the fruit of a dream of the founder and chairman, Mr. Parag Shah who wished to establish an institution based on a foundation in the liberal arts, much like many small and mid-sized colleges and universities in the United States, including SAU.

We were welcomed and hosted very graciously. We were particularly struck by their Discover India Project which includes months of preparation prior to an 8-day field trip to a distant community in India. Student teams put to use their training in anthropological research methods and live on a modest budget for several days. We saw some impressive team reports that captured their new insights, fruits of the classroom and in-field experiences.

As we toured the campus by golf cart it was clear that the buildings and landscaping have been beautifully done by a famous Indian architect.
The dry heat, blue sky and surrounding earth tones of the countryside brought back found memories of the Southwest of the U.S.

Throughout the day-long visit, we came to appreciate the mission and vision of the school which led us to initial explorations of possible collaborations for faculty and student exchanges.