By: Justin Taubman
I am home in Washington, D.C. and I am sifting through hundreds of photos and reflecting on tons of experiences as I prepare to move to Boston for my internship. I think it would be useful to list my five favorite parts of the program now that it is over.
- Customer Discovery in China
Each of us had been working on our business plans since the course began in April. We had been asking Chinese students at Maryland about our concepts, and while it was useful, nothing was as helpful as talking to our target customers when we were actually in China. We learned so much about customer pain points and the nuances about doing business in China compared to other Western countries. This was invaluable for launching our business in China.
- Shanghai Dumplings
Several us arrived to Shanghai a few days before the program began, so that we could get to see some more of the city. We decided to venture into a very local part of town for lunch to get the famous Yang’s Dumplings. I had never tried these types of dumplings before. They were different from the dumplings that I had before because they were filled with a slightly sweet tasting hot soup. So you took a little nibble out of the side of the dumpling and sucked the soup out and then ate the rest of the dumpling. They were DELICIOUS! They have ruined dumplings in the States for me.
- Traditional Chinese Banquet Style Dinner
Our group experienced its first traditional banquet style dinner in Bengbu, where we dined with city officials, local businessmen, and students from the local university. We were considered guests in this dinner and therefore we were toasted many times by our hosts. The toasts would consist of a short speech and then the word, “ganbei” (literally meaning “dry glasses”). Our hosts usually toasted with a rice wine alcohol, such as maotai in a small glass. The toasts were repeated at least a dozen times throughout the meal and everyone got pretty “loose” as a result. Lets just say I mustered up enough courage to try snapping turtle after a few toasts.
- Lisa: Our Beijing Tour Guide
The tour guides we had in each city were fantastic, but our guide in Beijing was outstanding. Lisa was extremely knowledgeable about the city that she grew up in and about the history of her country and culture. Among many sites, Lisa brought us to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City where she taught us about the lives of the many emperors that resided in the ancient city. Lisa also arranged a rickshaw tour of where the “common people” resided during ancient times. The Forbidden City was forbidden to these “common people”, so it was very cool to get the perspective of how the two sides lived. As an example of how Lisa went above and beyond the scope of her job, she arranged for many of us to get professional massages in our rooms after long days of touring. We will all miss Lisa!
- Learning to Make Dumplings
After a long day of climbing the Great Wall and touring the common people’s neighborhood, our final meal kicked off on a beautiful rooftop where we were taught how to make steamed dumplings. We surprised ourselves at how well they turned out. Chinese people make dumplings from scratch for special occasions, like the Chinese New Year. This seemed like a fun tradition and it was a ton of fun to learn. It was a wonderful final meal with the group.
I will miss China, our group, and the program!
Justin Taubman is a first year MBA candidate at the Robert H. Smith School of Business. After receiving his undergraduate degree in International Relations from Trinity College in Connecticut, Justin worked at the US Department of Homeland Security for seven years. He was focused on innovative security and customer service solutions for aviation security. Justin resigned as Program Manager of Passenger Innovation to return to school, where he is focused on Entrepreneurial Finance. Justin serves as the President of the Entrepreneurship Club and will be helping out at an e-commerce start-up this summer, called FoodBAM in Boston, Massachusetts.