January 22, 2018, Marcel Fritz and Lukas Werner
German students from the Cooperative State University in Karlsruhe had the opportunity for the first time ever to participate in an exchange with the “University of Mandalay” in the form of a compact program.
We did not want to miss out on this opportunity - even though, frankly, we did not even know where to find Myanmar on the globe. We? That’s Lisa Weiler, Lukas Werner, Marcel Fritz (students on the Business Administration Commerce dual study course) and Marc Roos (Project Manager).
And if you as a reader are wondering where Myanmar is, just as we were a few months ago: Myanmar (formerly Burma) is a state in Southeast Asia and borders onto Thailand, India and China, among others.
Prof. Dr. med. Becker (Dean of the Faculty of Business) and Prof. Dr. med. Böhm (lecturer in Economics), welcomed the ten participants on the compact program to our hotel in Mandalay on November 24, 2017 with a warm “Mingalarbar”. There was the opportunity to get to know the other German participants better during a dinner together.
We were allowed to explore the country on the first day before the program began at the University of Mandalay. After a river cruise to the village of Mingun, we were able to visit two major attractions: the ruins of the unfinished Mingun Pagoda and the house with the largest intact bell in the world. At the end of the day we made our way to the “U Bein Bridge” to explore the oldest and longest teak bridge in the world.
The program started at the university the following day. After a brief round of introductions and a welcome by the Director, the local MBA students briefed us on the political and economic situation in Myanmar. Afterwards we were allowed to give the Myanmar students an insight into economic issues, such as the German social security system or Industry 4.0.
Five groups of two German and three Mandalay students each ran their own company in the form of a business simulation over the next two days. In doing so, the students had to make entrepreneurial and strategic decisions that had an impact on the market situation and on competitors in a virtual economic environment. All five companies competed confidently and cooperating in international teams was both challenging and educational for both sides. For us, it was particularly interesting to observe the Myanmar students’ approach to their decision-making as we only found minor differences to our own way of working, to our great surprise. The three Myanmar students from the winning team received a Rutronik gingerbread heart and Rutronik provided us with giveaways in the form of pens, notepads and gummy bears for all the other participants from Myanmar.
Over the next few days we visited the Chamber of Commerce in Myanmar and some local industrial companies. We were also invited to the United Nations, where the UN Development Program was presented to us by a former Myanmar exchange student. One of our personal highlights over the last few days was climbing the 1,700 steps up to Mandalay Hill, home to not just numerous pagodas (temple-like, multi-story sacred buildings), but also a breathtaking view over Mandalay. We spent the last day in Bagan, 155 km away, visiting just some of the approximately 2,000 surviving pagodas.
To conclude, it can be said that despite a tight schedule, we had a lot of fun with both our German and Myanmar comrades, as well as the two professors from the Baden-Württemberg Cooperative State University in Karlsruhe. We were able to gain insight into a foreign culture’s life and daily routine, were enriched by many experiences and were able to gain many educational impressions.
At this point we would like to thank Mr. Schmidt and Ms. Kolem, who helped us with the planning and made the trip to Myanmar possible.
In this spirit: “Jay zu tin bar deh & Tat tar” (Thank you and goodbye) Myanmar!