Carlie Smith makes the most of an international experience without travel

When Honors senior, Carlie Smith, was awarded the 2020 William R. Holland International Business Fellowship, she thought she would be traveling to China this May and presenting at the Shanghai Economic Forum, one of the most prestigious international forums held in Shanghai, China. Then came COVID-19 and travel abroad was out of the question. Smith, a rising Honors senior economics major and sustainable business minor, did what Honors students do—she made the most of it! As she explained, 

“Being engaged in international issues especially at a time like this is so valuable to us as students. It is the most valuable part of the Honors international education requirement because it develops who you are as a person, a professional, and a student. As fun as it would have been to go on the faculty-led trip to China, the most valuable experience I could get from this was learning about another culture.”

The Hollands International Business Fellowship “is an applied business experience in Asia, with an emphasis on student research, engagement, and innovation. The fellowship serves to advance global learning while promoting research and collaboration among the College's top undergraduate students, faculty, and Fudan University in Shanghai, China.” Each year 12 Walker College of Business students are selected to work with 12 students from Fudan University in Shanghai China. These students are partnered and spend the Spring semester working collaboratively on a sustainability research project as a part of the course BUS 4060: Holland Fellows International Business Study in Asia I taught by Mr. Jesse Pipes, senior lecturer, in the Department of Management. Appalachian Hollands Fellows then travel to China in May, where they meet their partners and present their research at the Shanghai Economic Forum.

Photo above features the 12 students who were awarded the 2020 Hollands International Business Fellowship from left to right, back to front: Karst Bouma, Carlie Smith, J.T. Warren, Jason Garfinkle, Roberto Sibrian, Bailie Smith, Lawson Benfield, Mackenzie Hemingway, Ashley Brim, Casey Soles, Bailey Siner, and Susann Rivera.

As Smith shared, “Before concerns for COVID-19 hit the United States in the first half of the semester our research focused on creating more circular systems of waste within the fashion industry using the Mckinsey State of Fashion Report. Our team planned to partner with Kontoor Brands and present our sustainability plans to them for our final project. Since then, we have shifted our focus to a future-thinking model we are calling Hindsight is 2020. We are looking at how COVID-19 is affecting previous assumptions about the market and studying what the impacts on the Fashion industry will be for the years to come.”

Smith’s partner for this project, Zheng (Jaselin) Zeng from Fudan University, was also an economics major. They are pen pals and communicate on Instagram and video chat. Smith shared,

“We have become really good friends. Culturally, I didn’t realize how similar we would be. We are both into working out. We do the same workout videos that we find on YouTube, and the same cardio workouts. It has been great to learn about her economic perspective. She had taken the same types of economics courses as me, but her macroeconomics class wasn’t free-market based, and rather her classes are all behaviorally based. It was really cool to talk to her about our different cultures and how that relates to behavioral economics, because we are all humans!”


Photos above show Carlie Smith (top) and her partner Zheng (Jaselin) Zeng (bottom) communicating over social media. Photos submitted.

Because all of the Appalachian students, Hollands Fellows in BUS 4060 this past semester, had been communicating with their partners in China, they heard about the danger and impact of COVID-19 well before it hit the United States. Then they learned that travel would be prohibitive, and as Smith describes, they all just moved forward. Smith explains that the entire class led by Mr. Pipes was in agreement that the research would shift to studying the impact of COVID-19 on the fashion industry. After that, Smith continued with enthusiasm. She stated,

“I put all of my creative energy into getting every last bit of meaning out of this experience, preparing myself for a lifetime of interactions and future engagements with China and other cultures.”

 She has made a great start and gained all of what we hope students to gain in their Honors international education experiences.

Published: May 27, 2020 11:59am