On August 26 th , I met with a group of MBA students from Yuntech University in Taiwan. The students were on campus as part of a two week study tour they are participating in that is focused on Seattle. The group is staying is staying in our dorms, eating in our cafeteria, and meeting in our classrooms while they are in town. An important part of their trip is visiting Seattle based companies such as Starbucks, Costco Wholesale, Expeditors International, Boeing, PACCAR, and Microsoft. I provided them some information about Seattle University as well as about the economy in our region.
I asked them what their observations were about their visit so far, after having been here for three days. One observation was that people are very nice, stopping for them at corners and crosswalks. I noted that this was very unique to Seattle and in the rest of the country drivers only stop at stop signs and stop lights. You risk your life if you go to another part of the US and expect drivers to stop for you. They will not unless the sign says to!
They also observed that home construction was very different. In their country, homes are built with brick construction, but they had not seen this here. I indicated that I actually lived in a brick home, but we no longer use bricks much because they do not do well in earthquakes and we are all waiting for the next earthquake!
A student said they had seen very few African Americans thus far in their visit, and had expected that they would see more. I replied that the African American population is only 7% of the Seattle population, but there are predominantly black neighborhoods just South of campus and also East of campus. I explained that 20 years ago the surrounding community was much more African American, but through a process of gentrification many families have been pushed out to other communities, particularly South toward the airport.
The students were also struck by the size of US college campuses. At their school, their campus is pretty much one high-rise building, but they had visited the University of Washington that morning and were amazed by the size of the campus and all the green grass. While smaller, they were also impressed with the size of our campus. In terms of controlling the cost of higher education, I would bet their campus is more effective in that regard! :}
A disproportionate number of students were wearing Converse Chuck Taylor high tops, so I took the opportunity to provide them some history, namely when I was growing up, one had four options when it came to buying athletic shoes - Chuck Taylor white high tops, Chuck Taylor white low tops, Chuck Taylor black high tops, and Chuck Taylor black low tops - and that was it! Compare that to the selection of brands and styles available today for athletic footwear! (There were also Keds, but Keds were not cool, so they were not really an option.)
Finally, the students wanted to know how our students went about finding jobs after graduation. Beyond doing well in their coursework, I mentioned the importance of internships and participating in extra-curricular activities, since that made one a more rounded person. Communication skills and the ability to work with others are also important things employers look for. Given the nodding of heads, it seems it works the same way in Taiwan!
After our meeting, the students went to Safeco Field to see the Mariners play the Oakland A's, with King Felix on the mound, and fortunately the Mariners treated them to an 8-2 victory!