This was an opportunity we didn't want to pass up - even if we weren't exactly certain where to find Myanmar on the globe, if I'm perfectly honest. We in this case are Lisa Weiler, Lukas Werner, Marcel Fritz (students of the dual-study international business administration faculty) and Marc Roos (project manager).
And if you, the reader, are wondering like we were a few months ago where exactly Myanmar is: Myanmar (formerly Burma) is a country in Southeast Asia that shares a border with countries including Thailand, India and China.
Prof. Dr. Becker (Dean of the Faculty of Economics) and Prof. Dr. Böhm (lecturer in economics) welcomed the ten participants of the compact program with a cordial "Mingalarbar" on November 24, 2017 at our hotel in Mandalay. A joint dinner that evening gave us a chance to get to know the other German participants better.
Before the program began at the University of Mandalay, we explored the country on our first day. After a river boat trip to the village of Mingun, we visited no less than two major tourist attractions: the ruins of the unfinished Mingun Pagoda and the house containing the largest intact bell in the world. To round off the day, we traveled to the U Bein Bridge, which is the world's oldest and longest bridge made of teak.
The next day, the program at the university began. After a brief round of introductions followed by a welcome from the director, the local MBA students held short presentations to inform us about the political and economic situation in Myanmar. After that, we provided the Myanmarese students with insights into economic issues such as the German social security system or Industry 4.0.
On the following two days, five groups, each comprising two German and three students from Mandalay, ran their own companies as part of a business simulation. This involved the students taking commercial and strategic decisions that had consequences for the market situation and for competitors in a virtual economic environment. All five companies competed very well and the collaboration in international teams was challenging and instructive for both sides. We found it particularly interesting to observe the decision-making processes of the Myanmarese students, which were surprisingly similar to our own. The three Myanmarese from the winning team were presented with a Rutronik gingerbread heart, and Rutronik provided us with giveaways in the form of ballpoint pens, notepads and jelly babies for all the other participants from Myanmar.
Over the next few days, we visited the chamber of commerce in Myanmar as well as several local industrial companies. We were also invited to the United Nations, where a previous Myanmarese exchange student presented the UN Development Program to us. One of our personal highlights of the final days was climbing the 1700 steps to Mandalay Hill, which is not only home to numerous pagodas (temple-like, multi-floor sacred buildings), but also offers a breathtaking view over Mandalay. We spent the final day in Bagan, 155 kilometers away, viewing just some of the roughly 2000 preserved pagodas.
Let me conclude by saying that, despite a very busy schedule, we had a great deal of fun with our fellow students from Germany and Myanmar, and with the two professors from the Baden-Württemberg Cooperative State University in Karlsruhe. We gained insights into the life and daily routine of a foreign culture, came away with many enriching experiences and gained a great deal of instructive 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.
On that note: "Jay zu tin bar deh & Tat tar" (Many thanks and good bye) Myanmar!