China trip provides industry experience for AESHM students

Kiana Roppe

The majority of garments bought and sold in the U.S. are labeled as “Made in China.” For this reason, the apparel, events and hospitality management major at Iowa State has the opportunity to go to China and learn from one of the nation’s largest clothing manufacturers.

“It is important to understand the business and cultural dimensions of a country where most of our clothing is made,” said Chris Wise, an academic adviser for AESHM majors.

The trip to China is part of AESHM courses 281 and 581, taught by Professor Mary Lynn Damhorst. In order to participate, students must have a minimum GPA of 2.5, but can be in any grade. The 11 AESHM student will travel from May 9 to May 24.

“Our business is very global, and the more that students are able to get behind the scenes here or abroad, the more they will know and the more their skills will grow,” said Ann Thye, another academic adviser within AESHM.

The class meets every Monday from 5:10 to 6 p.m. in LeBaron and consists of readings, assignments and two exams to prepare students for the trip. For one of the assignments, students are put in a group with other students from Wuhan Textile University to develop a product line for production in both the U.S. and China.

“I’ve never been out of the country before and figured what better way than China to teach me more about another international culture,” said Courtney Carson, senior in apparel, merchandising and design who postponed receipt of her diploma to go on the trip. “I’m most looking forward to interacting with the students at Wuhan Textile University for a project we’ll be doing.”

Once in China, students will visit Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Wuhan, Beijing and Shanghai. They will then learn from different schools, businesses and culture hot spots to gain a better understanding of the industry in China.

“Contacts at Shenzhen University, Wuhan Textile University, and Dong Hua University in Shanghai are assisting Dr. Damhorst in arranging visits to different companies involved in the branding, designing, producing, and retailing of apparel products,” Wise said. “Each of these connections and visits will allow students to see firsthand what each has been reading about in their textbooks.”

The goal of the trip is for students to gain a more global understanding of the apparel industry so that they may be more successful and prepared for their futures.

It is common for people in their career to travel to these areas quite early. Having been there before, they will be more “knowledgeable and comfortable,” Thye said. 

Similar opportunities within AESHM include a trip to Chicago in the fall, New York in the spring and Los Angeles in the spring after graduation.