By Madelynne Kislovsky
RED BANK – Twenty-two graduate students from the People’s Republic of China attended a delegation visit and tour of Red Bank Monday to broaden their understanding of our culture.
All of the attendees were either M.B.A. or M.S. accounting students of the Seton Hall University Stillman School of Business. In addition to being given a visual tour of Red Bank, the students were able to speak with several community partners during a panel discussion.
One student added a bit of comedy into the session, asking if the town of Red Bank was named after a large crimson finance building and where it might be located, unaware of the red clay that used to cover the riverbanks that gave the town its name.
The F.I.S.H. Institute, the company that organized the tour, is an international student experience company and a vendor with Seton Hall University. The goal of this company is to get foreign students involved with the community and society that they are studying in, said the super visor of the students, Brad Childs. “The way that the communities and businesses work together in Red Bank is completely different than what these students are used to in China. We want them to understand the environment they’re in, and what better way to provide them with culture than this?” Childs said.
Mayor Pasquale Menna said the event came about through his participation in a program sponsored by Seton Hall’s urban development project conducted by faculty member Henry Amoroso, Menna’s friend.
The Student Delegation began with a question and answer session by a few dignitaries and other partners of the community to educate the graduate students of the Red Bank community. Members of the discussion panel included Mayor Menna; Christopher Cole, the CEO of Metrovation Terranomics Development; Tria Deibert, director of marketing for Meridian Health, which operates Riverview Medical Center; Domenic DiPiero, Jr., owner of The Two River Times and the financial services firm Newport Capital Group, LLC; Adam Philipson, CEO of the Count Basie Theatre, and James Scavone, executive director of Red Bank RiverCenter, which oversees the borough’s commercial special improvement district.
Menna and the other panelists talked about how Red Bank works together in order to thrive. “Every municipality, in order to survive, has to change,” Menna explained to the students. The students were able to hear how partnerships between the municipality and other local organizations and companies directly benefit the community as a whole. “It’s all about partnerships in the community, which is a critical element of being successful in business,” CEO Christopher Cole said. “These little things keep our community interesting and unique.”
The exchange students asked about the meaning of the black POW-MIA flag flying high outside the municipal complex at 90 Monmouth St., how to operate a successful nonprofit theater like Count Basie, and how Red Bank’s medical centers are able to compete with larger hospitals and treatment centers in major cities, like Manhattan and Jersey City. Deibert explained that “in order to stay current, we have to reinvent ourselves,” referring to the $130 million investment in new equipment, technology, and medical professionals, to provide patients with the same treatment as larger facilities along with that close-to-home convenience.
Menna touched on many aspects of the Red Bank community, including the large Hispanic population, sustainable assistance for those living in rent-controlled apartments, and the long list of restaurants to choose from that has now grown to over a 100.
Menna called the visit “a wonderful opportunity,” and explained his hope of educating the exchange students on the endeavors that make Red Bank successful, especially in the areas of the arts, the medical field, and finance redevelopment.
Sean Mulheren, a research assistant for the Stillman School of Business at Seton Hall, attended the visit as well. “I just wanted to participate, and bridge the gap between foreign and American students on campus,” Mulheren said. He explained that the experience Seton Hall provides these students, where they are introduced to a part of America that they were unaware of, is an experience that many of the students can’t find anywhere else. “They seem to be enjoying it,” Mulheren said.
One of the visiting students, Vincent Wei, had never been to any area outside of the Seton Hall campus in South Orange. The accounting and finance major, a native of Beijing, was looking for ward to the trip.
The tour of the community began with the Count Basie Theatre, 99 Monmouth St., where the students met the Golden Dragon Acrobats, natives of the People’s Republic of China who have toured the U.S. since 1978. They were welcomed upon entering the theater by rows and rows of young children anxiously waiting for the performance to start, who serenaded the exchange students with a sing-along of Br uno Mars’ “Uptown Funk.” The exchange students were pleased with the joyous, welcoming atmosphere, and the beautiful architecture of the Count Basie Theatre.
The tour included the Two River Theater, the West Side Lofts apartment complex, and the Galleria shops/farmers market, which holds businesses such as Pilates of Red Bank and the restaurant The Melting Pot. The tour ended at Riverside Gardens Park, where the group saw the beautiful scenery and took a photo with Menna.
Jing Zhang, another accounting student of the Stillman School of Business and native of Beijing, said that this visit helped her realize the importance of actively participating in environmentally-conscience actions, to benefit the lives of her generation’s children and grandchildren. Zhang’s favorite place on the tour was the Count Basie Theatre. “I could feel the culture there, and the ceilings were really cool,” she said.
The exchange students were able to see the artistic, residential, business, and environmental aspects of Red Bank, a town that one student referred to as, “the new New York.”
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