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“Many American students don’t have much of an idea about what’s going on in China,” observes Marcus Goncalves, the chair of the Nichols International Business program. With that challenge in mind, Goncalves led a dozen seniors from his international business classes in a face-to-face videoconference with fellow business students at the University of Saint Joseph in Macau, China on the morning of April 19th.
While the Nichols students gathered in the high-tech Finance and Technology seminar room at the Fels Student Center at 8:30am, their Chinese counterparts participated from an evening class at their school.
After Goncalves talked briefly to both groups about the role of Asia, and China in particular, as emerging markets, the students took over, asking and answering each other’s trans-Pacific questions.
Among their exchanges during the 45-minute session, the Saint Joseph students inquired about the requirements and roadmaps for opening a business in the United States. For their part, the Nichols International Business majors concentrated on areas such as the ability of China’s developing infrastructure to support the expansion of American into that country.
Goncalves notes that he had prepared his Nichols undergraduates for a range of topics, but hadn’t told them that the more than two dozen Chinese students they would encounter were enrolled in the Saint Joseph’s MBA program. “The students and the professor in China were impressed with our students,” Goncalves reports. “And they sent us emails praising our technology and facilities.”
More significantly, Goncalves says, the participants at both schools benefited from the diversity they brought to their joint classroom during the videoconference. When Goncalves tweeted some of the pictures of the ongoing event, they got re-tweeted across the Nichols community.
The idea for the Nichols/Saint Joseph’s collaboration emerged from a class that Goncalves taught in Macau last summer. “We came up with a bilateral relationship between our two colleges,” he says. “Eventually students from each could come to each other’s campus.”
Goncalves, who travels frequently to teach at universities and consult with companies abroad, has made similar inroads into his native country Brazil. During May last year, a dozen of his graduate students spent ten days studying the Brazilian economy at Salesian College and visiting major companies in the Brazilian city of Victoria.
“I’ve been branding Nichols abroad,” Goncalves explains.