Lao Wei’s and the Babson Alumni Dinner
Post By Kseniya Pulido(’15) and Ryan Diplock(’15).
It’s been a great first week of official classes in Shanghai. We celebrated our first birthday, conducted our second ethnography project for our business ideas and met local Fudan students at a mixer. While the Shanghai air quality might be undesirable, it is safe to say everyone is in a fantastic mood and enjoying themselves to the fullest.
This past Saturday night was our alumni dinner. It was at a beautiful restaurant called Crystal Jade and graciously hosted by the Babson Alumni of Greater China. We met Fred Kiang who is the CEO of Sunrise Duty Free in China as well as his business partner whom he called Dr. Dr. We also met a couple of other amazing alumni, Linda Wen and Ken Lin. The food was fantastic and authentic from the Peking duck to soup dumplings, which was complemented by delicious red wine and crisp beer and towards the end we were lucky enough to try some of Fred Kiang’s cigars….250 handmade steps and all natural ingredients. It felt great to bond, expand our networks and enjoy a wonderful night with such amazing and interesting people. I think it is safe to say we have yet to meet an alumni who has not or is not doing something fascinating with their lives over here in China.
The word Lao Wei is Chinese for foreigner. As a group of 24 Americans in a city where the majority of people grew up under Mao’s rule, foreigners are still uncommon and draw quite the attention from locals here. While walking down the street, people will look at you and sometimes will even ask to take a picture with you. One of the hardest things about being a lao wei here is the lao wei price. Everything is (initially) inflated due to the assumption that all foreigners are wealthy and you always have to keep your wits about you….it is not uncommon to bargain in a convenience store. We found this out when several of us stepped into a restaurant and received a menu with high prices and not much selection. After looking at the surrounding tables they noticed they had received the “lao wei menu”…essentially a menu with inflated prices and limited selection. While being a lao wei has its knocks, it definitely has some positive aspects. The exchange ratio between currencies is so favorable here we have all been living like kings for around 12 or 15 USD a day.
The week ahead for us holds company visits to Bao Steel, a wind farm, and more guest speakers. Our professor on the program, Professor Mulcahy, has been absolutely great. He has tremendous energy, is not afraid to dive in when eating exotic foods and really has a way with connecting with his students. This past week we broke off into groups of 4 and narrowed down our ideas to 6 core business opportunities in China. We are all looking forward to week two of classes where we progress those opportunities under the guidance and structure of the BRIC program. Until next week,