I have always loved traveling and learning about places that are unfamiliar to me. International travel has provided me with opportunities to see and experience cultural variety that just cannot be learned otherwise. Prior to this trip to India for the GE2 program, I worked with several Indian colleagues who I was privileged to call friends. But aside from talking with them about India – and enjoying Indian cuisine, of course – I did not know too much about the country. Obviously it is not possible to learn everything there is to know by simply visiting a place, but I truly feel that observing people in their daily lives is much more informative than reading a book or watching a documentary about historical events or current landmark activities. Therefore, I very much look forward to learning more about Indian culture and business methods during the next few weeks while I am immersed in the coursework.
In addition to experiencing Indian culture, I look forward to learning from fellow students in the course. In the brief time I have spent with some of the students thus far, I have noticed that we all have different academic and professional experience and interests. I am optimistic that students will share their knowledge both among our project teams and in the larger classroom discussions. While I probably learn best from doing activities myself, learning from others’ personal experiences usually runs a close second. When a peer can show me the relevance of a concept by sharing their experience, it helps me to see how the concept may also apply to my future activities.
One thing that continues to fascinate me during international travel is the way businesses are adapted for each region they serve. Business adaptability first struck me when I saw a KFC in Shanghai selling a chicken drumstick-shaped fried rice dumpling. Though I do not frequent KFC in the USA, I know that they do not sell this product there. However, YUM! Brands has adapted the Chinese KFC menu to meet the needs of their regional customers. Similarly, here in India I received a lemon beverage that is produced by Coca-Cola specifically for their Indian customers. Again, Coca-Cola has expanded their product line to include a drink that is specific to regional tastes. Not only do region-specific products produce revenue, but they also promote brand loyalty on a global scale. This is a concept I hope to explore more in the upcoming course.