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A New Partnership in Beijing: UNC & PKU

What a summer it has been!  I, along with 14 of my classmates in the Entrepreneurship Minor, have spent the past 5 (almost 6!) weeks in Beijing, China doing everything from working to studying to exploring the city.

My internship is with ERIC Paris Salons.  ERIC Paris is a high-end French hair salon that caters to Asians and American, French, Australian and English expats.  It was opened in 1996 in Beijing, but now has more than 16 salons around China.  Eric Constantino, a world champion hair dresser, and his wife Katy manage the business.  My role in this company consists of marketing and public relations for the salon.  I have written press releases, designed an electronic newsletter, sent business emails, created and distributed customer survey cards, wrote articles for local magazines about the salon, and much more. 

I work closely with Katy, the CEO, and she has been great in helping me learn about entrepreneurship.  She is a hard worker and a tough critic, but she gets the job done and runs the 16 salon chain flawlessly.  She brought me with her to a meeting at the Aman Summer Palace concerning the addition of an ERIC Paris salon in the 5-star resort.  It was extremely interesting to see the juxtaposition of the top-of-the line accommodations at the hair salon and the resort and the centuries-old pagodas and temples of the Imperial Gardens.  Katy also set me up to attend a lecture by one of the most successful American entrepreneurs in China, Jack Perkowski, who started a billion-dollar automobile parts manufacturing company.  Both ultimately furthered my understanding of entrepreneurship in China.  

In addition to our internships, we are taking classes at the prestigious Peking University (“Beida” if I want to show off my Chinese).  The majority of my fellow Tarheels and I are in a Chinese Culture and Communications course that covers topics such as the history of PKU, food, persuasion, and what achieving happiness means to the Chinese.  The class is interesting so far, but even though the actual lectures are in English, it is still a challenge to understand and decipher the notes posted in Chinese characters!

We have 4 Chinese RAs who have been saints.  It would be nearly impossible to live here without them!  They look up directions for us, help us bargain at the Silk Market, speak to taxi drivers over the phone in Chinese, and help us navigate the subway system.

I am lucky enough to live with our female RAs throughout the trip; Rui in June and Ying in July.  We each have our own rooms, but we share a common area and a bathroom.  There is a maid service, washing machine and dryer, small kitchens, and western toilets (a big treat!).  Needless to say, the accommodations for international students at the Global Village are wonderful.

It is not just all work and no play for us, though! We have been to Xi’an to see the Terracotta Warriors, Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, an electronic music festival at the Great Wall featuring Fatboy Slim, and bungee jumping at Longqing Gorge.  We make the most out of every day here in Beijing because there is so much to offer, and before we know it, we will be on a 14-hour plane ride back home to Chapel Hill!