Students studying international business at Bath College had the chance to speak to the head of Barclays in China during a cultural trip to Shanghai.
Five Level 3 students were chosen for the trip to Shanghai Sipo Polytechnic College – which has strong links with Bath College.
They were matched with student buddies and took part in lessons at the college, learning about Chinese culture, oil painting and Tai Chi.
Chinese students greeted their visitors with a traditional mandarin song and a talent show featuring music, dance and tea making.
It was an overwhelming experience for the five students, who performed Wonderwall by Oasis to an enthusiastic audience.
Jon Domaille, head of business, media, music and performing arts at Bath College, said: “They were waving their phones in the air like lights.
“There was a real sense of warmth and generosity. They really bonded with their Chinese counterparts – I think they have made friends for life.
“This is an international business course and we wanted to give them the opportunity to experience that world themselves – to give them a sense of a global community.
“The class sizes are bigger – they noticed that – and they noticed there’s a sense of discipline they probably don’t identify with over here.
“I taught for the day and it was absolutely fascinating. They really care about getting things right and doing things properly.”
As well as spending time at the Chinese college, students travelled to see Shanghai’s financial centre and free trade zone.
They listened to talks from Chinese businesses and, on the final day of the trip, they met the head of Barclays in China.
Mr Domaille said: “They sat in his office discussing Chinese English relationships with him. That really gave them a sense of confidence.
“It was fascinating stepping back from that and watching them hold their own with someone who is incredibly important in world finance.
“It was a fantastic experience for the students because everything they have learned about, they saw it happening.
“I think that the fact that students had spent the week exploring Chinese culture added great significance and context to their visits to businesses in China.
“They have come back far more rounded individuals and more open-minded individuals.”
International business student Henry Lancaster said: “To be sitting with the manager of Barclay’s operations in China is pretty special.
“He wanted to hear our thoughts about the alliance between the UK and China and how things can develop in the future.
“It has helped me gain a better understanding of China’s current state of affairs and to put into practice what I have learned in class.”