International Study Week Thailand/Myanmar
International study weeks have been an integral part of the MBA programme for over 13 years, with three main emphases: "Lectures at partner universities, company excursions and getting to know the country, people and culture to strengthen students' intercultural competence," explained Prof. Dr. Eberhard Hohl, the initiator and head of the pioneer study tour.
The study week started in the "Land of Smiles" - as the Kingdom of Thailand is often called, more precisely in the capital Bangkok. In the midst of this pulsating 10 million metropolis, the students received their first cultural, academic and business-related insights. On their exploration tour, the pioneers went by boat across the "Royal River" Chao Phraya to important sights such as the famous royal palace surrounded by a 1900 m wall, the Wat Arun and Wat Pho temples. The unique splendour of colours, the architectural richness of detail of the ensemble as well as the rituals of the Buddhist doctrine fascinated the master students very much. At the end of the impressive adventure tour in Krung Thep - the city of angels, as Bangkok is also called - the MBA students had the special opportunity to deepen their experiences in an intercultural lecture together with Dr. Opas Piansoongnern. The native Thai is a management professor at Ramkhamhaeng University and a consultant to well-known companies in Thailand. He is also a lecturer in the IB program and accompanied the MBA travel team in Thailand and Myanmar. "It was a special highlight for us studying, professor Piansoongnern with its know-how, wealth of experience and various enterprise network on board to have had, so the Indian master student Shriharsha Vege.
The in-depth academic focus of the study trip took the form of a campus day at the Sirindhorn International Institute of Technology (SIIT) of Thammasat University. Founded in 1934, Thammasat University is Thailand's second oldest university. With about 240,000 graduates since its foundation and currently about 35,000 students, it is one of the largest and most renowned universities in the country. Since 2003 there has been a close cooperation and partnership with Ravensburg-Weingarten University of Applied Sciences with regular student exchanges, lecturer mobility, joint projects and study programmes. The RWU students were warmly welcomed by the members of the SIIT management team, Professors Dr. Itthisek Nilkhamhang and Dr. Chawalit Jeenanunta, as well as the head of the International Office, Peechalika Sertsirikul. During a lecture forum as well as a guided tour, accompanied by Thai students, the "IBler" got first academic views of the life and work on the extensive campus. In a business game on corporate management led by the Japanese book author and professor, Yoshiki Hamada, intercultural teamwork was successfully tested together with international fellow students in addition to professional exchange.
Visit to the German-Thai Chamber of Commerce (AHK)
The bus stopped in front of a modern and architecturally impressive skyscraper in the Business District. The goal: the German-Thai Chamber of Commerce, which has been advising and supporting German companies in entering the Thai market for 50 years. With a lecture of Mr. Marius Mehner, the deputy managing director of the AHK Thailand, the studying received a founded fact spectrum to the economic and business world of Thailand with intercultural recommendations of an internationally experienced compatriot.
Another highlight was the visit of the company BuilkOne. The MBA team around Professor Eberhard Hohl was welcomed there by the co-founder and CEO, Patai Padungtin, who gave the visitors exclusive insights into one of the most successful start-ups in the country. This company has set itself the goal of not only digitizing the construction business, but also revolutionizing it and expanding it in Southeast Asia (e.g. to Myanmar).
The onward journey to the "Golden Land"
The "Golden Land", as Myanmar (formerly: Burma) is often called, a direct neighbour of Thailand, was the next destination of the study trip. Already from the airplane one saw the famous golden pagodas, which shone in the sun. After the landing at the airport of the 1.5 million city Mandalay it went on the Mandalay Hill to a gigantic Buddha statue in the midst of a large temple plant. Like on a throne, the participants could enjoy the sunset, which covered the golden peaks of the pagoda landscape below in a reddish, almost magical light. During the visit of the "gold beaters" of Mandalay and the U-leg bridge with over 1000 pillars and 1200 m span the longest teak bridge of the world, the students had the feeling to dive into the past of the country. A special highlight of the study week was the visit to the regional Chamber of Industry and Commerce, where the group, together with local MBA students, was able to get a picture of the economically strong Mandalay region. Lectures and dialogues made it clear that Myanmar is in a mood of entrepreneurial optimism and that the infectious optimism can be felt everywhere.
Another highlight in Mandalay was the visit to Shakespeare's International School and Preschool. There the students were welcomed by the pupils and the founder of the institution, Victor Zhang. The entrepreneur, who also owns the country's largest tea factory, also accompanied the group on a tour of "Diamond Star Co. Ltd. Flour Mills", the country's largest flour producer.
Bagan, the geographical centre of Myanmar
The journey continued to Bagan, more than 180 kilometres away, which is world-famous for its more than 3,000 monasteries and pagodas and is considered the most historically and culturally important region of the country. The pagodas, temples and cultural treasures are the oldest in the country and not only attracted students from Upper Swabia to the historic royal city. Bagan is a magnet for tourists from all over the world!
The last day of the eight-day study trip was devoted to a visit to the Royal Palace of Mandalay, which extends over an area of four square kilometres. The visit of the Kuthodaw Pagoda, the Shwenandaw Monastery and the famous Mahamuni Buddha Temple completed the Southeast Asia tour in an impressive way. During a visit to the Zegyo market, the students spent their last kyats on souvenirs such as spices, tea or (jade) jewellery before returning to Germany via Bangkok.
"It was a great trip which, in addition to the economic and cultural impressions we gained, also broadened our personal horizons. We were welcomed in such a friendly way as was almost nowhere else the case", enthuses Mario Scheike, student in the 3rd semester of the MBA program and adds: "We thank the professor duo Dr. Eberhard Hohl and Dr. Opas Piansoongnern as well as the hosts in Thailand and Myanmar for the great hospitality and the unforgettable moments in these two fantastic countries. "Now we know where to find the true smile of Asia: in Thailand and Myanmar - the countries of smiles.