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What do China and Chile have in common?

By Greg Little-

Greetings from China!  As I sit here watching darkness descend on the Beijing skyline from my 19th story window near the heart of Beijing’s Zhongguancun District—also known as China’s Silicon Valley, and home to what are arguably China’s top two universities in Peking University and Tsinghua University—it’s great to think that the sun is now rising in Charlottesville and classes will begin for the week in less than an hour.  While I miss being back at Darden, especially now that the section athletic competitions have begun for Darden Cup points, I am enjoying the experience of living here in China.

Although I had taken a few vacations outside of the U.S. growing up, I got my first taste of living internationally less than ten years ago after volunteering to work as a missionary in Chile on behalf of my church.  As I spent the better half of two years living and working among a culture much different than my own, I was taken by the similarities I shared with the Chilean people.  I really grew to care a lot for them as we worked side-by-side and as I struck up random conversations with people in the street; in fact, I even ended up marrying someone from Chile!  These past three weeks in China have surprisingly had a very similar feel to my first few weeks in Chile.  While I am still not sure whether the feeling of déjà vu is due more to the realization that my language skills aren’t as good as I thought (everyone talks so fast!) or because of commonalities between China and Chile, living here does have a very familiar feeling.  That being said, my wife has remarked on more than one occasion how such-and-such is just how things work in Chile.  She almost even feels at home… until, of course, she steps out onto the street and realizes that she can’t read any signs or understand what people are saying.  Our little son seems to have adapted quite quickly and is already learning new words from his little Chinese friends during evening visits to the playground—he even made friends with a Chinese grandfather the other day whom he played with on the see-saw.  One thing we have thoroughly enjoyed is walking down the street amidst the rest of the people, exchanging glances, smiles, the occasional verbal greeting, and sampling the local cuisine along the way.  Of course, we also get our fair share of wide-mouth stares, but can you really blame them?  I imagine it’s quite a site seeing the three of us walking the streets together… we are in China, after all.

Greg Little, President
International Business Society at Darden

Epilogue: As President of the International Business Society, and this year’s editor for the Global Voices of Darden international blog, it is my distinct pleasure and honor to present to you this new forum of international discussion for Darden.  I can only smile at the path this blog has taken.  From a simple idea that I thought could be an asset to the Darden community, I have seen it progress to a work-in-progress and now to its launch.  The best part is that I know it will grow and flourish over time into something even bigger and better, long after I have graduated from Darden.  That, of course, will depend on all of you as current and future members of the Darden family—the great thing about Darden is that you are forever a part of it, so there are no past members!  So sit back, stretch your fingers a bit, and start writing to add your global voice to the mix.  Then come back again and again to learn and discover the world through the experiences of the rest of the Darden community.