Team CVG UK: Scotland Trip: The Long Road Home (By Home I mean Northampton)

We left Edinburgh on Sunday, and began the seven hour drive home. About thirty minutes into the trip, we were driving along the Scotish coast and found a little spot where we could pull over to enjoy the view. We stopped, hopped a stone wall and walked as close as we could to the beach.

landscape

After another forty-five minutes of driving, we made our second stop at Lindensfarne Castle – a castle on Holy Island right on the coastline and on top of a hill. The Castle was built in the 1500s to protect the area from the Scots, who frequently raided the area. It was originally built for military purposes, but in the early 1900s it was purchased and redesigned by a wealthy businessman who used the castle as a second home.

castle

Today, the castle  is restored and furnished to be an accurate representation of the castle in its summer home version. So, if you have ever wondered what it might be like to live in a castle (who hasn’t??) I’ll fill you in. It didn’t look so great. Turns out, castles typically aren’t created with comfort and luxury in mind. Even after the redesign, the military history of the castle was evident as I roamed the halls.

After a couple hours at Lindensfarne, we hopped back in the car and finished up the rest of our drive home to Northampton.

drive home

Team CVG UK: Scotland Road Trip

Over the weekend, Team CVG UK embarked on our first team road trip together. We travelled to Edinburgh Scotland. During the seven hour journey, Nishant entertained us with his beautiful Scottish and English accents. Next time you see him in the States, make sure you ask to hear them – they’re a treat.  After navigating what felt like a thousand roundabouts, we found ourselves driving through the truly beautiful English countryside. One interesting fact – the English countryside is peppered with picturesque yellow fields that Nisant informed us were huge fields of giant sunflowers. Now, if you thought to yourself, “Fields of sunflowers in northern England? That’s odd.”, you’d be right. Despite Nishant’s assurances, it turns out they were some sort of crop (we suspect mustard), but definitely not sunflowers.

Finally, we arrived in Edinburgh. The city is one of the most picturesque places I’ve ever seen. The city is overlooked by a volcano (non active) and Edinburgh Castle on an opposite hill. The city is filled with the beautiful gothic architecture. While there, we got a chance to visit Calton Hill, Edinburgh Castle, and the Scott Monument, all of which were incredible in different ways.

caltan hill

Incredible views from Calton Hill

 

ecastle

Edinburgh Castle from a distance

 

 

scott mon

 

The Scott Monument – we went all the way to the top through a terrifyingly claustrophobic stair case.

 

We spent only two nights in Edinburgh, but I hope I get the chance to go back someday. It is one of the most truly unique cities I have visited in my life.

Vancouver : Capilano Suspension Bridge Park

After finishing the final draft of our project (Phew!!), Team Canada was really looking forward to having our first outdoor fun experience in Vancouver – The Capilano Suspension Bridge Park! The park is a rainforest and has a collection of adventure spots including the Capilano bridge, treetop suspension bridges, and a walkway bridge clinging to the Capilano canyon. We started off with walking on Capilano Suspension Bridge which is 450 feet across and 230 feet above the Capilano River.

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It was a long and shaky bridge! As we walked along the bridge, we could not wait for the photos and selfies journey to begin. It was a wonderful experience to walk on the bridge and see the river flowing beneath it.

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After walking across the bridge, we went to another adventure stop – the treetop suspension bridges. There were seven bridges about 100 feet above the forest floor, connecting to different trees.

Teryn happy that she made it halfway the treetop bridge!

These bridges were sturdier than the first bridge we walked on. Overall, it was a fun-filled experience to walk on the different types of bridges and enjoy the cool breeze and the lush greenery. After a long walk in the rainforest, we came back to the Capilano suspension bridge from where we started.

Never tired to pose for a pic!

From here, we went on to cover the last part of our journey –  the walkway bridge clinging to the Capilano canyon. The walkway was a collection of wooden stairs, small bridges and see-through glass floors. At so much height from the sea level and surrounded by so many trees, the landscape looked lovely.

OH ---- IO!!!

Overall, we had a great time at the park and exploring various kinds of bridges! After coming back to Vancouver downtown, we went to see an old attraction called “Steam Clock”. This clock is one of the oldest steam clocks in the world. It is powered by a steam engine and keeps dissipating steam.

Kirti posing with the steam clock!

On our walk back to hotel, we enjoyed watching the busy streets of Vancouver filled with swanky pubs with patio seating, coffee shops and branded stores. The crowded streets reminded us that the weekend was approaching. Overall, it was a wonderful, bright, sunny day, and we are looking forward to seeing other major attractions in Vancouver in the coming days!

 

 

 

 

Putting AC’s case analysis to the test

Friday morning we met with Andrea, our client contact, to go over our presentation outline. Despite some scope creep, it was a productive meeting. It is pretty exciting to see all of the hard work we have done coming together. We are really thankful for all the hours we put in back in the US (aka all of those six hour meetings on the weekends) because now we can really fine-tune our final product. The rest of the day was spent working on our respective parts of the presentation.

In the evening, we met up with the CVG team for dinner at the fanciest mall in Shanghai. Walking past Hermés, Prada, and Louis Vuitton stores, we ended up at a great restaurant where Dandan and Chengcheng ordered us a feast!

Fancy shrimp dish

Fancy shrimp dish

Post-dinner, we decided to put AC’s case analysis of the Ritz to the test, and we went to the hotel’s rooftop bar. To say that Shanghai at night is spectacular would be an understatement. The massive buildings, which are everywhere, have lights that constantly change colors and seem to be competing with each other for most incredible architectural design. We also walked along the Bund and took in this city that we have come to love.

The Pearl Tower

The Pearl Tower

Obligatory O-H-I-O

Obligatory O-H-I-O

The ladies of Shanghai!

The ladies of Shanghai!

Snap, Snap, Got it!

When we found out we were headed to Kenya for our GAP project, one of the first things to cross our minds was, “Let’s go on a safari!”

Once in country, we scheduled an excursion to Masai Mara. This trip took place last week, and we were able to experience so much:

Kenya 251

We drove around the rift valley during our six hour car ride.

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We arrived at the glamp (glamour camp) site at about 2:30pm, ate lunch and headed out around 4pm for our first game drive. Our goal was to see the “Big Five”: African Lion, Cape Buffalo, African Leopard, African Elephant, and White or Black Rhino.

Check out some of the pictures from our first day!

African Lioness

African Lioness

African Lion

African Lion

African Elephant through my binocular lense

African Elephant through one of my binocular lenses

African Giraffe

African Giraffes

Cheetah

Cheetah

Cheetah

Cheetah

Wildebeest

Wildebeest

Zebra

Zebras

Most of these pictures were taken during the first two hours of our time there. Up until this time, I had only seen such exotic animals at the zoo. It was so amazing to see these animals in their natural environment.

Though we came to Kenya to work, I’m so glad we were able to take a break and see all the great things Kenya has to offer.

 

 

 

 

“Measuring” our progress

We are in the second half of our GAP project now! I feel better and better working with my team members. We are used to each other’s styles and working well together.

We are working on a cost model. Everyone is excited about what we have created and feel confident about what we are working towards. To be more specific, one task for our model is to allocate shipping cost per commodity. For this number, we need packaging information. All the parts are coming from the UK and the China warehouse doesn’t have this information in detail, on hand. Rather than wait in the office for a whole day, we decided to go to the plant in Jiading and measure the dimensions ourselves.

Jiading plant is an hour and half away from the CVG office in Shanghai, and we arrived at 11 am. The warehouse manager helped us measure the dimensions of packaged boxes on pallets.

From this effort, we gained some valuable real world experience. We learned that some data is not available or hard to explain, and that it is more efficient to take action to get the data by ourselves.

Warehouse

Bagpipes, Kilts, and Castles or My Time in Volcano City

To start, Edinburgh, Scotland is truly a unique and wondrous place.  If you are not immediately floored by the Greek-inspired architecture of the city, you will certainly be by the ancient volcano it is perched upon.  It can be best told in pictures as it’s history can be muddled by constant changes in power throughout the years.  IMG_2185

Our GAP team made the road trip seven hours north on our last weekend before our big presentation this Friday to explore, relax, and experience a culture truly unlike any other.

We toured Edinburgh Castle, walked upon the monuments of Calton Hill, and toured an ancient graveyard with the mausoleum of philosopher David Hume.  While the pictures here are great, it would behoove you to add this to your list of travel destinations. if you haven’t already.  It’s beauty is incapturable.  Scotch tasting wasn’t the worst IMG_2238part of the trip either.

We also toured a fort styled castle by the sea on our drive home.  It was an amazing experience.  Now it’s back to Northampton to put the finishing touches on our presentation to CVG and show them what Fisher students have to offer!

Next stop:  Final Presentation to CVG CEO

 

 

 

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After We Made the Train….

Following up on our previous post, it would appear as though two hours is not quite long enough to get from Pudong, Shanghai to the Hangqiao High-Speed train station here in China. At least it wasn’t for our team last Friday afternoon. After sprinting across three floors of an enormous train station in Shanghai, in what many would consider an Olympic-style, 400-yard dash, we missed our train to Beijing, seriously deflating any hopes we had of visiting the archetype of Chinese landmarks: the Great Wall of China.

Fortunately the sun always does come up tomorrow, even in China. And, with the rising sun, we traveled to the train station on Saturday morning to catch the next available high-speed train from Shanghai to Beijing. During the five-and-a-half hour ride, we strategized on the next best way to visit the Great Wall and somehow meet up with the other six members of our little excursion in the process, eventually coming up with a plan that involved an Audi A6, a glowering Chinese wheelman, and an overall harrowing journey from the Beijing train station to a remote section of the Great Wall. Thanks to some help from the Phillips team, who actually made the Friday afternoon train, we arranged to have a driver come pick us up at the station and take us to meet up with the rest of our group at the Great Wall.

Following another three hour car-ride that involved more use of the horn that non-use and the passing of innumerable slower vehicle on one-lane roads and around hair-pin turns, we arrived at one of the most picturesque scenes I have ever had the pleasure to visit to begin our Journey on the Great Wall of China….

A Poem about a Kenyan Desert

We thought that traveling would be really neat,

We didn’t know that we would be cleaning feet.

A mission trip was outside our project scope;

But, understand the people – that is the hope.

I gathered my thoughts on the bus ride home,

Here is the result: I wrote a poem

Bus Group

The trip began by boarding a bus,

There was barely enough room for all of us.

The twelve hour journey was crowded and rough,

The road was not paved, by the end we’d had enough.

Scenery

Twelve hours of bumps and a whole lot of dirt,

Limited water and food made my head hurt.

But this trip it is not about all of my woes,

We must get the bugs out of kids’ toes.

Pastor Hirbo greeted us with his famous smile.

One look at his face and the trip was worthwhile.

Jiggers bite the feet and burrow into the skin,

Over one million are effected, where do we begin?

We knew we would be with medical staff in Marsabit

But, we didn’t know that we would be a part of it.

John_Andrew_Me Cleaning

Apprehension was high and nerves were shot,

MBA students yes, but medical students we were not.

We broke into groups and were shown our tools,

Some drove and some walked to the nearby schools.

Wash, soak, rinse, then dry-

The vaseline makes the jiggers go bye.

Ryan Treating

My shoes are red and covered in dirt;

But, that’s nothing compared to how my heart hurts.

We arrived to help make Kenya jigger free

I didn’t know how much it would affect me.

Bus at Village

The kids were strong and tried to smile,

But, the treatment was painful and took a while.

The sight of one boy made my heart break in two,

The jiggers got to his feet and he didn’t know what to do.

Boy with gloves

The shame on his face and pain in his eye,

A lump came to my throat and I started to cry.

I got comfort from my team; we worked as one.

We were committed to help until the treatment was done.

The last step in the process is putting shoes on their feet,

The one-for-one model from Skechers, which was pretty neat.

Putting on Shoes

At the sight of the shoes, the kids formed a line,

All of them wondering – will one of those pairs be mine?

Shoe line

More kids than shoes, a sad realization-

How can we truly help this great nation?

Over 300 were treated with kindness and care,

And jigger prevention they are now well aware.

We debriefed from our days and said our goodbyes,

The impact of this experience was truly a surprise.

Jake Carrying

 We started the journey a bit distressed.

As we leave, we are feeling overwhelmingly blessed.

Farewell to Marsabit and it’s desert air,

This brief look into our trip; I’m glad I could share.

 

Forbidden Economies of Scale

After our amazing and exhausting trip to the great wall Saturday, and reunited with the CVG team, we decided to hit up the epicenter of ancient Chinese power and modern tourism.  We woke up early to beat the crowds and subwayed over to the Forbidden City complex.

“Large” doesn’t quite capture it.  Everything China does is bigger, but the Forbidden City and surrounding sites take it to a whole new level. From the second you leave the subway and walk up into the square across the road, your entire field of vision is taken up by massive palace walls on one side and a field of stone on the other.  Even early in the morning, milling crowds of tourists (both international and Chinese) mill around taking pictures of everything and entering into various queues for the attractions.

We decided (unwisely), to go to the Forbidden City first, so began entering into lines.  First, there was the line for the first security check; then, the line to get into the city; then, the line to get tickets; then the realization that we were in the wrong ticket line; so, out to another line to get the right tickets; then more security…

Finally, we made it in!  By this point, we had passed by several tiers of walls and gates that would daunt the Mongol hordes.  This is not a place that it would be appealing to attack, especially when you include the formidable presence of various Chinese military forces protecting the area.

Inside was beautiful. The complex is a Russian nesting doll arrangement where you pass through successive gates with palaces that ancient emperors used for all types of activities: putting on shoes, holding banquets, being rubbed down by concubines.  There are even palaces for resting in between traveling between palaces in the complex (which is reasonable since it is pretty exhausting walking between them.  We are talking a multi-mile stroll).  The buildings also house various pieces of art, antique military equipment, and other posessions of the dynasties, so that you can get a better picture of life back then.  What is amazing about these cases of artifacts is that a sword from 3000 years ago may be sitting next to a sword from 700 years ago without much change.  Both the quality of preservation and the timelessness of the culture are incredible.

My favorite piece of the interior, however, was the gardens.  Within the massive stone walls, the ruling class could relax from their stressful lives by wandering around carefully manicured gardens, fountains, pools and weathered stone formations.  Even with huge crowds inside, it was a strangely tranquil environment. I can imagine that the gardens were a great place for emperors to come after a long day of ruling a quarter of the planet’s population.

After a few hours, despite only having seen a fraction of the complex, we decided to move on to see a few more of the sites surrounding the area.  Unfortunately, because the exit to the Forbidden City is on the far side from the entrance, when we left we realized that we had to walk all the way around the walls of the city to get back to Tiananmen square.  This helped get us up to our Chinese daily average of twelve-thirteen miles of walking a day.

Tiananmen square is pretty impressive, although there is not a lot in it.  Surrounded on all sides by monolithic sculptures and buildings dedicated to the Chinese bureaucracy, its interior is mostly empty, though dotted with throngs of tourists, marching soldiers, lights and security cameras.  In the very center, there is a large stone pillar dedicated to the People’s Heroes.  While not quite on the same scale as the Washington monument, in the middle of so much empty space, it sends a message.

By this point we were pretty much touristed out, so we headed a few miles (or two blocks according to Yuming) down the road to a famous dumpling restaurant.  We had a big group, so they gave us a private room upstairs.  We proceeded to absolutely pig out, devouring 150 dumplings and a couple side dishes between the eight of us.  We ordered a range of different fillings, and everything we ate was delicious.  Best of all was the price: only 260 RMB total or about $5 USD per person.

Impressive Panorama of Tiananmen

Dual Team OHIO in the Forbidden City!

Dual Team OHIO in the Forbidden City!

As we tried to avoid slipping into food comas, we caught the subway back to the train station.  Fortunately, this time the CVG team was with us, so they managed to make it on time!  We blasted off back to Shanghai at 300 km/hr, tired but happy with an awesome trip to Beijing.