Making the most of your winter break

  • Monday, January 23, 2017
    Ben Webster at Shanghai's Jade Buddha Temple

    Ben Webster just returned from China where he spent three weeks of his winter break from UMES as a participant in a business and culture program sponsored by the Council on International Education Exchange. 

    Webster took a three-credit undergraduate course, "Marketing Management and Methods in East Asia and Emerging Markets,” at East China Normal University in Shanghai. He and his classmates analyzed multinational companies serving markets in east Asia and evaluated current macroeconomic trends impacting those nations. 

    The Beltsville, Md. junior said he earned an "A" in the course, which also included assignments to develop a presentation on Johnson & Johnson and Unilever's marketing strategies in Shanghai and another on a fictitious health and wellness company to satisfy specific Chinese consumer needs. 

    “I gained an appreciation for east Asia and the vast opportunities that are available to individuals like myself as a result of rapid globalization and development,” said Webster, a dean's list student who is a member of the Richard A. Henson Honors Program.

    In addition to visiting cultural sites and learning to speak Chinese, Webster's trip also allowed him to network with Chinese professionals, and visit a start-up business called Gululu. 

    Gululu was founded in the United States, Webster said, and has an office in Shanghai. The company sells “smart” water bottles that aim to increase the amount of water children drink through interactive screens. 

    On the cultural side, Webster said he was amused to discover neither General Tso's chicken nor fortune cookies are considered indigenous Chinese fare. 

    Webster's research into short-term study abroad programs led him to the Council on International Education Exchange, which offered a partial scholarship he combined with personal funds to pay for the winter-break experience. 

    “It was an incredible experience,” Webster said, “And I am motivated to share (it) to inspire other minority students to travel (internationally) as well.” 

    Webster is president of the UMES chapter of Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences and serves as the university's student ambassador to the Thurgood Marshall College Fund as well as the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. In addition, he is president of Uniquely Defined, a campus organization focused on creating a safe and inclusive environment for those who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender as well as Queer, Intersex and Asexual. 

    UMES Office of Public Relations, (410) 651-6669