Bridget Rothbart and Pritika Harduar
Gaining first-hand experience of the way businesses operate in China proved a turning point in the careers of Glendowie College teachers Bridget Rothbart and Pritika Harduar in Auckland.
Economics teacher Bridget was the first of the pair to attend the Foundation’s Shanghai Business Studies Forum in 2012. The study trip included visits to factories, schools and the Shanghai Stock Exchange as well as briefings by successful New Zealand companies operating in China.
A year later, her business studies colleague Pritika attended the same forum. Inspired by what they had learnt and convinced of the need to bring Asia into the classroom, the two teachers summoned the confidence to begin planning their first school trip to China in 2015. Two more school trips to China followed, and they are now planning a fourth in 2021.
The trips teach the business studies students about Chinese business etiquette through visits to factories and briefings by guest speakers. They also teach the importance of building relationships, “and lastly – and probably the most important – cultural responsiveness”, Bridget says.
“It’s been inspiring to see our students maintaining contact with guest speakers…While others have returned to China to travel, some already have their eye on future internships. On our return from China we see an increased personal commitment from our students to either learn or improve their Mandarin,” she says.
Bridget adds that the College has built a strong relationship with its sister school in Ningbo, Xiaoshi High School. “Our students are hosted by Xiaoshi families and in turn in alternate years we host their students.”
All levels of the College’s business studies course now reflect Asian “cultural intelligence”, including Foundation-supported Year 11 International Market Days with Asian themed stalls run as business ventures. More senior students study different business scenarios where cultural responsiveness is critical for building positive business relationships.