WSU students got a firsthand look in May at some of the biggest, most important clothing production and merchandising companies in China.
Associate Professor Ting Chi led eight undergraduates from the Department of Apparel, Merchandising, Design and Textiles on a two-week trip to Shangai, Beijing and Xi’an that launched May 8.
China is the largest textile, apparel, and footwear supplier to the world and U.S. market, and the annual trip helps AMDT students understand the business practices that drive that dominance.
“The economic connection between the U.S. and China has never been so tight,” said Chi. “Understanding cross-cultural differences between China and the U.S. and learning business norms and practices in China have become imperative for any student who wants a successful career in the fashion industry.”
In Shanghai and Beijing, students visited major suppliers for companies like Target, Nordstrom, Speedo, Macy’s and Calvin Klein. They also visited a leading textile and apparel university in Shanghai, Donghua University, meeting students and faculty.
The trip also took in cultural attractions, including the ancient terracotta warriors site in Xian and the Forbidden City in Beijing.
Most of the students in AMDT 439 had never traveled abroad before. Flying 12 hours across the Pacific was their first challenge.
“Seeing the students with smiles on their faces in the Shanghai International Airport was a relief for me,” said Chi. “They were very excited.”
Visiting China challenged students’ adaptability. Chi said they were open-minded, and quickly embraced Chinese norms and basic language. Even when tired after travel, they behaved professionally, answered questions and made their own observations. Each wrote in daily journals, and will turn in a final report on their experiences and new skills.
“Going to China has not only made me want to travel more and explore the globe, but has opened my mind to a greater worldview,” said student participant Ariana Paynter. “You can never truly understand a population and their behavior unless you study their culture and history. This experience has enhanced my soft skills by providing challenges such as language and societal barriers that I learned to navigate and problem solve.”
As the first person in her family to ever leave North America, “I feel that I traveled far enough to meet myself and learn so much outside the box,” said AMDT 439 student Yeseily Pruneda. “Every from being open-minded in a different culture, to trying new things and learning so much about China.”
“More students should gain this kind of experience,” says Chi.