Visiting scholar shares knowledge of Chinese business, economy

By Marie Veillette  veillettema@mnstate.edu

MSUM’s newest visiting scholar and professor Qi Chen took her first steps on U.S. soil last Thursday after arriving in Moorhead from her home country of China.

Chen made connections with Prof. Peter Geib through the School of Business’ new Doing Business in China certificate program. When she received a grant from the Shanghai government last year to go abroad, she immediately knew where she wanted to visit.

Chen has traveled for academic purposes before, though never to the United States. She received her master’s degree from National University of Singapore, then moved to Shanghai to teach international trade and business at Shanghai Finance University.

While at MSUM, she hopes to share some insight into all the aspects of participating in Chinese business culture. Chen plans to use case studies to present her knowledge of Chinese markets, regulations, shareholders, cultures and taxes.

“China is important to promote the world economy,” she said.

Because the economy, and the current and past history of it, is integrated into business transactions, Chen will discuss this major factor with students to give them a full understanding of what they will most likely encounter in the future.

However, Chen isn’t just here to teach.

“I want to learn more from this experience in the United States,” she said. “I’m going to bring philosophy from China to students and teachers. At the same time, I’ll learn more.”

Comparing education systems is one aspect Chen is interested in exploring.

After sitting in a lecture last Friday, Chen has already noticed differences. She said she was “surprised” at how carefully American students listen.

At the university where she teaches, Chen said attendance dwindles after each week. Students tell her they have “no time to sit in class” because they are chasing after internships or studying for the TOEFL exam, a test that measures a person’s ability to communicate in English when it is not their native language.

A major way the two education systems differ is in what they teach. In China, schools and universities teach knowledge, but in the U.S. both knowledge and abilities are taught.

Skills such as the ones learned in public speaking courses are not taught to Chinese students; they never learn how to write a speech, give a presentation or create an accompanying visual element.

However, Chen’s examination of the school systems is not limited to the college setting. Chen’s daughter accompanied her on the one-year residency and is currently attending Horizon Middle School in Moorhead. Even at that level of education, the differences observed at MSUM are paralleled.

Her daughter is learning skills not typically taught in a Chinese education.

They teach them to cook,” Chen said. “In China, it’s impossible. I don’t cook.”

Though it’s not what she would normally learn, Chen said her daughter has taken a particular liking to the new skill and practices at home frequently.

Despite her daughter being the only Chinese student at the school, Chen said teachers have been patient with her less-than-fluent English, and she has made many new friends since her first day.

Over the summer break, Chen and her daughter will travel to California to visit her niece who is studying at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Chen said she is excited to see the “different culture in different states,” yet another dissimilarity from her home country.

Despite the drastically different climate and scenery, Chen has no regrets about choosing to spend the majority of her time in the United States in the Red River Valley. She’s already picked up on the “Minnesota Nice.”

“Everybody smiles at you,” she said. “I love Moorhead. I feel comfortable.”

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