A group of students from the West Virginia University P.I. Reed School of Journalism set out for adventure halfway around the globe this summer.

After studying the language and culture throughout the spring semester, the students traveled to China for a month on an exchange trip led by Harrison/Omnicom Visiting Professor Jim Ebel. The trip was made possible due to an expanding relationship between the School of Journalism and Guangdong University of Foreign Studies in Guangzhou, Guangdong, China.

The trip gave the students an opportunity to study alongside Chinese students in a course entitled, “Frame, Fracture, Focus, Create, Campaign: Five steps to building a brand,” taught by Ebel. The students also participated in internships at Chinese corporations where they learned about marketing and branding practices in Asia.

“It was amazing,” said Chelsea Sams, a senior from Parkersburg. “They told us, ‘Remember, China is a completely different place from the U.S.,’ and they were right.”

While in China, Sams interned with four other IMC students for a company called Writing & Reading, which provides advertisements for a Chinese company similar to Amazon.com. The WVU team was tasked with attracting traffic to the website by using a popular Chinese online card game in which players could earn points to redeem for products.

Jordan O’Brian, a junior from Damascus, Md., worked with another WVU team for Bawell Health, an alternative medicine supplier. Bawell executives were interested in American students’ insights on how to market their products to the United States.

“These students now have a real advantage over their peers when entering the market upon graduation,” he said. “The integrated marketing communications world is global, and emerging markets are where many IMC organizations expect to generate growth and expand. The next generation of IMC leaders will be ones who are globally focused. The students who participated in this exchange have a head start.”

In addition to learning first-hand about Chinese corporate culture, students were fully immersed in everyday living in China.

“From navigating the cultural nuances of Chinese business and getting to work on time on a public transit system to collaborating with their Chinese peers and experiencing new sights, sounds and unusual foods, they all were profoundly changed,” Ebel said.

The group also managed to squeeze in some sightseeing before heading back to the U.S. After completing their short internships, they took a bullet train to Beijing and, from there, trekked to the Great Wall.

“Their personal brand narrative has more depth and breadth, because they didn’t just see China, they experienced life and business there,” Ebel said. “That translates to greater confidence, and it will help insure that they become leaders – with great jobs – upon graduation.”

The faculty-led summer program is an expansion of the original memorandum of understanding between WVU and GDUFS signed in 2011. The agreement also includes a student-exchange program, giving School of Journalism students the opportunity to study alongside their Chinese peers at Guangdong University’s School of Journalism and Communication. In exchange, students from China can study at WVU’s School of Journalism.

In addition to Sams and O’Brian, other School of Journalism participants included: Josh Bryant-Gainer of Shenandoah Junction; Scott Claggett of Salisbury, Md.; Lindsey Lambert of Bluefield, W.Va.; Jihyung Lee of Morgantown; Lauren Nickle of Elkton, Md.; Julia Swindells of Rockville, Md.; and Yijia Wang of Beijing, China. Two other WVU students also participated: Jenna Britton of Flushing, Ohio and Kelsey Purcell from Spotsylvania, Va.



CONTACT: Kimberly Walker, School of Journalism
304.293.5726, Kimberly.Walker@mail.wvu.edu

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