Left to right: Paulina Guzman, WAC Atlanta membership coordinator, Hicham Jaddoud with IHG, along with fellow Kathryn Aquino, sponsor Jin Jin, fellow Maddie Cook, moderator Trevor Williams of Global Atlanta, and fellow David Krezmer.
Packed Golden House for the World Affairs Council Young Leaders Chinese New Year celebration. Photos courtesy: World Affairs Council of Atlanta

For David Krezmer, a banking associate at HSBC, it was the way the Chinese handled their new relationships — examining each business card for the finest details. 

For Maddie Cook, a trade commissioner for the Canadian consulate general in Atlanta, it was the way her counterparts in Shanghai interacted with industry partners. 

For Kathryn Aquino, who coordinates vehicle delivery at the Porsche Experience Center in Atlanta, it was the innovation shown in an unexpected brush with technology at the “Netflix of China,” a company with 20 million-plus users called iQiyi

These were some key “takeaways” from these first-time visitors to China in October, who were among 12 professionals chosen as part of the Young Leaders China Fellowship administered through a partnership between the Georgia State University Confucius Institute and the World Affairs Council of Atlanta

They shared their impressions in a Chinese New Year celebration Jan. 24 that drew more attendees than expected, despite the heavy traffic from the city to Duluth’s Golden House Restaurant. Global Atlanta moderated the panel discussion, which looked at how the fellows’ expectations as China novices matched the reality they experienced on the ground. 

While all noted the difficulty of travel within China for the uninitiated and acknowledged how tough it might be to work there long-term, they likewise praised the country’s modern infrastructure and the unmatched hospitality of their hosts at the Beijing Language and Culture University. 

One common refrain was the unforeseen levels of innovation in China’s technology industry. A visit to the Beijing offices of communication equipment and device giant Huawei put this in perspective when the fellows were greeted with a 16K television screen (many times clearer than 4K systems currently on the market) that spanned an entire wall. (One participant thought a digitally displayed water feature was real.) 

In the end, the trip set the tone for what the council hopes will be future Chinese government-funded visits to help young professionals make their maiden voyage to the world’s second-largest economy. 

The event was sponsored by the Atlanta International Education Group, headed up by Jin Jin, who helps families find American educational opportunities and assists universities in making connections in China. 

For more on the trip, read the trip blog here

Read more from Global Atlanta here:

Atlanta Young Leaders Head to China With Open Minds

As managing editor of Global Atlanta, Trevor has spent 15+ years reporting on Atlanta’s ties with the world. An avid traveler, he has undertaken trips to 30+ countries to uncover stories on the perils...