Cal Poly Travels to China

Cal Poly Travels to China
Of all the opportunities that Cal Poly has to offer its’ students, many don’t know
about the weeklong trip to Shanghai. This trip is a part of the BUS 304 class,
“Establishing International Supply Chains.” This past spring break, 41 Cal Poly
students tackled the 15-hour plane ride in order to learn about business practices,
immerse themselves in a new culture, and maybe even try a few of the local
“When do we get to go back?” Ross Pfeifer, a second-year business student and
member of the class, asked. “China wasn’t at all what I expected, but I enjoyed
learning so much about their culture that I would definitely go back some day.”
The class itself is composed of five meetings throughout Winter Quarter, a tour of
companies in the California produce industry and a weeklong trip to Shanghai
during spring break. During the class meetings, students get to learn about each
component of a typical supply chain. The students get a glimpse to the detailed
process starting from the farm and making it all the way to our tables, whether that
table is here, or across the Pacific.
Before leaving for Shanghai, the students had the chance to visit Mission Avocado
and Apio Inc. On these tours, the students learned more about the processing side of
the produce industry. Mission Avocado is located in Oxnard, Calif., and provides
quality avocados around the world. With farms in California, Mexico and South
America, Mission Avocado is a leading brand in the industry. Apio Inc. is a very
prominent company in the fresh-cut vegetable industry. Located in Guadalupe, Calif.,
they see all kinds of vegetables coming in and out of their facility, such as carrots,
cherry tomatoes and sweet kale.
“Most of the students in BUS 304 have no experience in agriculture. I believe that it
changes their view of what agriculture really is, which is a dynamic, all-inclusive
industry with endless opportunities,” Tom Frawley, BUS 304 instructor, said. “These
opportunities do not end just for those in CAFES. Our tours showed the students
that agriculture needs engineers, packaging technology, IT, computer science, etc.”
Fast-forward three weeks and the students arrive in China. Culture shock and jet lag
were to be expected, but the students kept busy with industry tours, briefings at the
US Consulate and, of course, touring the beautiful city of Shanghai. On the first day,
students got to walk along the Bund, a large waterfront area, and see the famous
Shanghai skyline. After seeing modern day Shanghai, the students then got to visit a
traditional garden that dates back to 1577 and walk the windy paths of a bazaar
(marketplace) bursting with life and culture.
The next day, the students had the privilege of meeting with several employees of
the US Consulate in Shanghai. One of those employees was Mr. Linston Terry, the
former Deputy General for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. With this position, he
fostered the connection between U.S. producers to the Chinese market. He explained
to the students that China has a desire for American-made products including dairy,
wine and many others.
“I thought it was insightful to see the passion that Linston has for improving the
quality of food that China receives,” Maddie Stanley, third-year agribusiness student,
said. “I really enjoyed listening to their ideas about how there is room for U.S.
products in China, and I’m glad to see that the road to higher consumption of U.S.
products is increasing.”
California consumers expect to go to the grocery store and find a wide array of
produce available to us. However, in China, with a large part of the produce being
imported, fresh produce becomes a luxury. While abroad, the students went to a
local wholesale market. They saw an array of fruits from all over the world, even
some from our backyard.
“The trip was really about getting to see the supply chain process in action. We
started out with going to companies in California and then once in China, we actually
got to see avocados with the Mission Avocado label. It really shows just how far your
food can travel.” Pfeifer said.
Along with the trips to the consulate and market, the students also toured
technology and finance companies, such as Benchmark Electronics, KPMG, Preferred
Freezer Services and Trimble Navigation. With the information the students learned
at these companies, they really got an overall understanding of the Chinese
economy. Overall the experience was one that could not be replaced. Having the
chance to study abroad and experience a new culture opens up the eyes of students
to a new world of opportunities.
“One will see how blessed we are to live, study and work at Cal Poly after
experiencing a study abroad program,” Frawley said. “This is one of the greatest
benefits to studying abroad: recognizing the power of diversity and developing a
greater awareness of the world outside of SLO.”