Taylor Johnson, a sophomore business management major at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, will participate in an intensive two-week course on vocational education in the upcoming China-U.S. Rising Star Student Study Tour.

Recently selected as a participant, Johnson will travel to China this month, according to a news release.

The vocational education exchange program is co-sponsored by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) International Education Office and the China Education Association for International Exchange.

Students were nominated by the director of international programs at each participating university. Applicants were required to have completed at least one year of college education, be in good academic standing and have an interest in Chinese culture.

“Taylor fits the profile of students we are targeting through our global leadership development initiative, which prepares students for effective engagement in a global society,” said Pamela Moore, associate dean for global engagement, Office of International Programs (OIPS) at UAPB. “She made a strong impression on me through the focus, initiative, enthusiasm and commitment she demonstrated towards participation in the Rising Star Tour.”

Moore was also impressed by Johnson’s entrepreneurial experience.

“I own a hair products company called ‘Baddie Boutique,’ and since I get most of my products from China, I thought participating in the program would be a great way to learn more about the goods I sell as well as the manufacturers’ business structure,” Johnson said. “I hope to develop ideas on how to improve my own business.”

Johnson said she is also interested in learning about Chinese e-commerce and how large online companies such as Alibaba – one of the world’s largest retailers – function online.

“I believe this program will expose me to another culture besides my own,” she said. “I feel going on this trip will enhance my creativity, keep my mind sharp and increase my connection to others, as well as myself.”

After she graduates from UAPB, Johnson plans to go to law school and pursue a career in business law.

Moore said OIPS continues to explore ways to boost UAPB student participation in education abroad programs. Because UAPB is an institutional member of AASCU, programs offered by this and similar national associations may result in reduced participation costs for students, according to the release.

During the China trip, students will study in host vocational colleges there and learn about the latest developments in various industries.

According to the AASCU, the program is meant to facilitate the increase of students studying in China in the vocational education sector, as well as strengthen the cross-cultural communication skills and professional capacity of student participants.

During the program, American and Chinese student participants will attend lectures together and visit important industrial and cultural locations to better understand the social and economic conditions of modern China. They will receive in-lab training from professors and take part in projects that focus on cooperative learning. Workshops, seminars and team-building activities are intended to foster long-term friendships and collaboration between students from the two countries.

— Will Hehemann is a writer/editor with the UAPB School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences.