With our Shanghai private equity client using positive exclamation marks for our final deliverable's feedback, our mission was accomplished. We hosted our Shanghai Jiaotong University classmates as a culmination of our project, and this post highlights musings of their visit.
Cultural nuances between US & China:
MIT hallway poster sessions don't typically exist in China: When we created a poster for our project as one of 30+ to fill the Sloan cafeteria, our Chinese counterparts were learning simultaneously with our teaching methodologies. In China, formal one-way presentations structured with Q&A at the end were the norm. In the US, two-way dialogues between students, administration, and other classmates - during the lunchtime passing period - employed a far more casual (non-graded!) opportunity for others to learn about MIT China Lab and partake in future years.
English-speaking Chinese students are far more self-sufficient in the US vs. us in China - Our Chinese counterparts' English was far better than . MIT organized buses to (you guessed it!) outlet malls nearby, so we did less hosting than they generously extended us while in China.
Hierarchies between top Chinese schools is far more noticeable than in the US - While top-tier university students readily assimilate with each other, there is a much larger sense of rivalry even between #1 and #2 schools' students in China, e.g. Beijing University vs. Tsinghua University. It was interesting to witness the camaraderie among students from top schools across different cities, as our MIT classmates certainly respected them all evenly.
Perhaps our MIT China Lab will not only build greater US-China relations, but also strengthen China-China ties by the 60+ students across top Chinese universities who met for the first time - at MIT!