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Student Organization Seeks to Improve UI, China Business Opportunities

Confucius once said, "He who will not economize will have to agonize."

Those words resonate with the UI Greater China Business Association (GCBA) in the Tippie College of Business as the group aims to provide students with the practical tools to further international business opportunities with China.

As the fastest growing economy in the world, China will play a role in most of today's business students' futures, so not tapping into its increasing economic prowess could be a vital mistake students can ill afford to make. Current GCBA president Kurt Kamin said with China garnering an average annual growth rate of 10 percent over the past 30 years, it is important students are cognizant of the importance China will play in the future of the United States' economy.

"It is absolutely necessary to be aware of China's role in the continued vitality of the global market," Kamin said. "If you want to be on that financial train when it leaves, not being aware of China's profound growth will result in you being left behind a day late and a dollar short."

Created in spring 2010 to encourage UI-China business connections, GCBA's goals include providing Chinese networking opportunities, developing skills needed to succeed overseas, teaching the current complexities of China-American business relations, establishing Chinese study abroad and internship programs, and teaching the intricacies of Chinese culture.

Given how much the two nations rely on one another economically, Kamin said the incredible opportunity for students to tap into this marketplace is at hand.

"I think of these countries as two snakes wrapped around large vegetation sharing the tree's resources and space," Kurman said. "With so much of the world economy dependent on the success of the U.S. and China, so many positive possibilities await Iowa students."

Those business opportunities should continue to grow as an estimated 128,000 Chinese students enrolled at American academic institutions the fall of 2009 alone, according to the Open Doors Report. UI admissions data mirrors this trend with 1,312 Chinese students enrolled at the UI in fall 2010.

GCBA Vice President of Operations Lee Henely said these statistics convey continued growth in UI Chinese alumni. Contacting these individuals is high on Henely's agenda.

"We are also doing basic groundwork seeking alumni help in improving this bridge of opportunity," Henely said. "There are many local Iowa companies with China links, and we are aware of about 30 alumni located back in China that can spearhead this UI connection."

This shared sense of community is an integral part of Chinese society and is frequently promoted by the GCBA through its annual events. The group's vice president of marketing, Jenny Chen, who is from China, cites the importance a personal relationship plays in all business ventures between the two nations. Conjointly utilized as a recruitment device, these events spark membership growth and a fun atmosphere.

"We are always trying to bring the Chinese culture to Iowa City, and holding these events aid in these endeavors," Chen said.

Their largest event is the Hotpot. Popular in China, it is a communal gathering where everyone contributes one ingredient to a meal cooked in a large pot of boiling broth. This symbolizes individuals from diverse backgrounds working together to create a collective, enjoyable product.

Kamin said he hopes to see continued growth in the GCBA as more individuals realize the importance China has on American success.

"Our success is derivative upon the equal promotion of cross-cultural connections and international business relations," Kamin said. "Perhaps in the future we'll start growing as rapidly as China's economy."

For more information, call Kamin at 331-425-0491.


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