Made in China. We have all come to embrace those three words as part of the norm in in our status quo. We see those words on the bottom of the ceramic dinnerware at home, on the tag of your favorite J. Crew joggers, and probably under the laptop or tablet you are using right now. Brimming with vitality, China has emerged into one of the most powerful economies in the world, with Hong Kong serving as its financial center and gateway into the market. It is there where I made my home for five weeks this past summer, studying Supply Chain Management with the University of Texas in partnership with Target and the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Among the many experiences gained and the lessons learned, the following three thoughts in particular opened my eyes most about the world we live in:
1. The world is not your factory. It’s your marketplace.
One of the fundamental misconceptions growing up in a developed country is that we believe the rest of the world is merely a sourcing ground, or a place that saves you X amount of dollars by the end of each quarter. However, not only is this notion fading, but quite simply, there is more in this world to discover – from business strategies to educational opportunities – that will help you accelerate to prosperity, be it mental, physical, or financial.
2. Understand the culture of your surroundings, always.
In China, business cards are both given and received with both hands, often with a slight bow. Textbooks don’t teach you that. The next time you pack your bags and travel, take the chance to observe your surroundings and take in the local customs and behaviors. Not only will this help you in a business context, but it will also allow you to grasp how diverse this world truly is.
3. Everybody in the world is connected, and that is absolutely beautiful.
As a native Texan, I take pride in our culture of southern hospitality. It provides a sense of warmth and welcoming that I will always know and love. However, thousands of miles away in Hong Kong, I felt a different kind of warmth. I felt it when connecting with locals over a game of basketball in the streets. I felt it when a Chinese student taught me how to properly use chopsticks for the first time. I breathed in a sense of connection every single day. I didn’t have to know Mandarin or Cantonese. I didn’t have to look the same or dress the same as everybody around me. I just had to be me, and the world appreciates that. The world will make you grow, laugh, prosper, and feel for one another. Never take that for granted, and always be ready to give the world the best version of you.
Ziyaad Khayrattee is a student (and huge Houston Rockets fan) studying at the University of Texas-Austin, as well as a State Officer Coach with TeamTRI. Follow him on Twitter @Ziyaad_Khay and be sure to watch the video of his adventures above!