Celebrating 20 Years of Guanxi between Saint Martin’s University and China

Guest Contributor August 22, 2017 0

(L to r) Ron Chow, co-founder and CEO of Seattle Pacific Trading; Ellen Holton, a representative from UW Neighborhood Olympia Clinic, UW Medicine; Shauna Stewart, executive director, Experience Olympia & Beyond; Joe Williams, chair of the Saint Martin’s University Board of Trustees; and Roy F. Heynderickx, Ph.D, president of Saint Martin’s University. Chow, Holton, Stewart, Williams, and Heynderickx are participating in the Dotting of the Eyes ceremony before the 2017 Saint Martin’s University Dragon Boat Festival. • Courtesy Photo

The following is presented by Saint Martin’s University:

This fall, on Saturday, November 4, Saint Martin’s University will hold the Saint Martin’s Gala International 2017, in the Marcus Pavilion on the Saint Martin’s University campus in Lacey. The Gala, which is the University’s major fundraising event for student scholarships, will focus on the theme of China and feature James Beard Award-winning chef Ming Tsai.

This year’s Gala theme highlights Saint Martin’s 20 years of relationships and shared programs with sister universities in China, including in Beijing, Shanghai and Inner Mongolia. The theme for the Gala also provides a corollary focus on the concept of guanxi, a Chinese term that connotes a sense of connection and recalls the University’s Benedictine values of community, hospitality and stewardship, the original guiding values of the Saint Martin’s Gala.

According to Josephine Yung, Saint Martin’s University vice president of international programs and development, it was by slowly and carefully building guanxi that Saint Martin’s established its relationships with the institutions that eventually became its sister universities—Shanghai Maritime University, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Inner Mongolia University and North China Institute of Aerospace Engineering.

“Everything in China starts with guanxi,” Yung said. “Guanxi literally means relationships—it is who you know and who will vouch for you. Guanxi is not built in a day because the foundation of guanxi is trust. It may take years to establish a relationship but once it’s built, it lasts for a long time.”

Yung first went to China in 1997, as a member of former Washington Gov. Gary Locke’s trade missions. The group went to Shanghai and Beijing while in China, and Yung said she was fascinated by the development that was evident in the cities at the time.

“Joining the governor’s trade mission provided a great opportunity to get connected,” she says. “I’d been interested in China but I had no connections in China. You could feel the energy, the sense of hope and the willingness to work hard for a better future in the people. It was a powerful feeling. There were still many obstacles in doing business in China but I knew it was time for Saint Martin’s to be in China.”

As Yung tells it, the breakthrough came in 2000, when she went for another visit to the Pudong area of Shanghai. “The whole area was ready to be built into a world-class trade center,” she says. “There was no doubt in my mind that Saint Martin’s had to be a part of this. I thought, ‘We have to learn about the Chinese culture; we have to listen to what their needs are and build a Sino-American relationship that meets the need of the students.’

“It took three years for us to build the first sister-university relationship with Shanghai Maritime University,” she says. “It was through guanxi that we were introduced. During the course of three years, we compared our areas of interest, our goal of international partnership and how we could work together to serve the needs of our students. The joint partnership proved to be very successful. The joint program has graduated more than 3,000 students in Shanghai and approximately 10% of the 3,000 students have transferred to Saint Martin’s University for their undergraduate and MBA programs.”

Saint Martin’s now enrolls between 30 and 40 students from the sister universities in China each academic year, and, during the summers, between 150 and 200 students from the sister universities come to visit Saint Martin’s for enrichment and cultural exchange programs.

The relationship between Saint Martin’s University and China has had an economic impact upon the region that involves much more than just dollars and cents—it also has encouraged the growth of a complex and diverse economy. Washington is one of the country’s most trade-dependent states, and the south Puget Sound is becoming a strong participant in international trade. “Several million dollars each year flow through the region,” says Michael Cade, executive director of the Thurston Economic Development Council. “Olympia, Lacey and Tumwater have had several development projects directly impacting the region with well over $15 million per project. Additionally, we have been working with several of our region’s employers to expand operations and business relationships in the Pacific Rim countries—all as a result of the growing relationship begun and fostered through Saint Martin’s University.”

When it comes to the future of the relationship between Saint Martin’s and China, Yung is optimistic. She thinks that the relationship will continue to strengthen. “The China today is very different from the China I first visited in 1997,” she says. “The need to learn from each other and about each other only increases as days go by. We have sent students to China—the School of Business had a study tour that went to Hong Kong, not too long ago, and our education students have regularly gone to Shanghai Maritime University to teach English. But we have been on the receiving end of Chinese students the last 20 years, it’s time for us to send more Saint Martin’s students to study and to do service projects in China.”

As part of the celebration leading up to Saint Martin’s Gala International, the University will host the Global Education and International Exchange Symposium on Friday, November 3, and the presidents and chief international exchange officers from Saint Martin’s sister universities in China have been invited to attend. The agenda will include a discussion of the importance of global education, study abroad, and international service learning.

Yung believes that the character of Saint Martin’s has contributed to the success of the international partnerships the University enjoys with its sister universities in China. “I think Saint Martin’s being a Benedictine university and the fact that we focus on hospitality—that really makes a difference in how our Chinese students or our international students are being received. On the whole, they feel very welcome, we are helping them to be successful, so I think that really makes a difference. They feel that the University has their interests in mind.”

For more information about this year’s Saint Martin’s Gala, visit the website at www.stmartin.edu/Ming


For more than twenty years, Saint Martin’s University has actively engaged in programs and partnerships with China. Saint Martin’s has sent delegates to China and hosted Chinese relations conferences here. Saint Martin’s currently maintains sister university agreements with four universities in China: Shanghai Maritime University, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Inner Mongolia University and North China Institute of Aerospace Engineering.

Timeline

1997: Josephine Yung, vice president of international programs and development, first went to China as a delegation member of Washington Gov. Gary Locke’s international trade mission to China.

2001: Saint Martin’s and Shanghai Maritime University signed a sister-university agreement and entered into a partnership for an international business and accounting program.

2002: Saint Martin’s and Shanghai Maritime University started the annual faculty and student cultural exchange program.

2004: Saint Martin’s organized a China Conference entitled “The Timing is Right: Doing Business with China,” on April 9, 2004. Keynote speakers: Washington Gov. Gary Locke and Hon. Peng Keyu, Ambassador, Consul General of the People’s Republic of China in San Francisco, California. The conference included workshops and discussions about financial and business resources for companies doing business in China, strategies for building strategic partnerships in the Chinese marketplace, the difference between the business climate in Hong Kong and the rest of China, and the logistics and physical distribution management of companies doing business abroad.

2006: In partnership with the Thurston Economic Development Council, Saint Martin’s led a “Business to Business Trade Delegation to China,” on March 3-12, 2006.

Saint Martin’s University organized its first annual Dragon Boat Festival on May 6, 2006. Shanghai Maritime University and Wuhan University of Science & Technology sent their dragon boat teams to participate in the race. There were 13 teams competing in the inaugural Dragon Boat Festival, and the race came down to the wire, with both Shanghai Maritime University and Wuhan University of Science & Technology fielding strong teams. “The two teams were head-to-head,” recalled Josephine Yung, vice president of international programs and development. Shanghai Maritime University pulled out the win in the end.

2008: Saint Martin’s University and Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine signed a sister-university agreement.

2013: Saint Martin’s University and Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine organized the “Traditional Chinese Medicine Exhibit” at Saint Martin’s University. Close to 1,000 people attended the exhibit. Josephine Yung, vice president of international programs and development, said that many of the attendees for the exhibit were professionals in the traditional Chinese medicine field. “Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine shipped more than 200 pieces from their own museum to us for the exhibit and sent a delegation as well,” Yung said. “It was great.”

Saint Martin’s University and Inner Mongolia University signed a sister-university agreement and entered into a joint partnership for an international business and accounting program.

2014: Inner Mongolia University of Science & Technology sent its faculty to Saint Martin’s University for a summer teacher training program.

Bei Cai High School in Shanghai started sending its faculty and students to Saint Martin’s University to attend the annual summer cultural exchange program.

2015: Saint Martin’s University and North China Institute of Aerospace Engineering signed a sister-university agreement and entered into a joint program partnership of mechanical and civil engineering.

2016: Saint Martin’s University celebrated its 10th annual Dragon Boat Festival on April 25, 2016. Shanghai Maritime University and Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine sent their dragon boat teams to participate in the 10th anniversary race.

2017: The Saint Martin’s Gala International highlights Saint Martin’s 20 years of relationships with China.

Concurrent to the Gala, on Nov 3-4, 2017, Saint Martin’s will host the “Global Education and International Exchange Symposium,” and a signing ceremony between Saint Martin’s University and its Chinese sister universities will be held.   

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