“Inspirational” is the first word that comes to mind for three Otago Polytechnic students who have recently returned from the Sino-New Zealand Model Programme symposium in Tianjin, China.
April Henderson, Jane Armour-Raudon and Evelyn Araujo arrived back in Dunedin earlier this month buoyed by an international experience that included collaborating with three Chinese students in a “start-up business model workshop”.
Marc Doesburg, Otago Polytechnic’s Director Internationalisation, says the workshop provides an “extraordinary” opportunity for second-year Bachelor of Applied Management students.
“It challenges the students’ assumptions, and provides a unique and rigorous environment in which entrepreneurial ideas can be tested and developed.
“As well as being stimulated, the students experience a certain level of discomfort, too. In having their ideas objectively evaluated and challenged, they grow in confidence.
“We see both a personal and professional transformation in our students,” says Marc, who accompanied the trio to China.
“That’s a key reason behind the forum – in fact, all of our international partnerships. The aim is to provide experiences not available in the current domestic programme.”
Evelyn says the Tianjin experience has been “amazing”, providing her with plenty of ideas for her business project.
“The forum really opened my eyes. I learnt so much about business solutions, creation, sustainability and innovation.”
Jane says she has gained much from the cross-cultural aspects of the forum.
“The workshop gave me valuable insights. It also helped me realise that New Zealand’s relatively small size doesn’t preclude it thinking big in terms of innovation entrepreneurship.
“I came back to New Zealand having validated, through research, my concepts. I will now continue with my business, Eideann Chocolates, a souvenir gift chocolate which uses storytelling to convey a sense of place and people.”
April says the experience has been “100 times better” than expected.
“Just witnessing the differences in thinking that occurs between cultures was mind-blowing.
“Here in New Zealand we only have 4 million people, whereas China has more than a billion, so the Chinese students’ concepts were much more global.”
The Sino-New Zealand Modern Vocational Education Development Forum is a result of the Strategic Education Partnership between China and New Zealand, signed by then Prime Minister John Key in April 2013.
Under the theme of “Innovation and Entrepreneurship”, the forum aims to stimulate discussion on research and policy between New Zealand and Chinese officials and institutions involved in vocational education and training.
Read more about Otago Polytechnic’s international partnerships.
Expiry: 01 Nov 2018