He runs his own business selling sports equipment and mobile phone accessories, and interacts regularly with suppliers in China over the phone.
This, along with his interest in the Chinese economy, led Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP) student Simon Chow, 17, to apply for his school's new Certificate in China Readiness (CCR) programme, which was developed in collaboration with Business China.
The programme was launched yesterday with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between NP and Business China, and is the first of its kind among local polytechnics.
Simon is among the first batch of over 70 students taking part in the programme, which will start next month.
The programme is open to second-year students across all courses, and is designed as a cross-disciplinary elective offered by NP's School of Interdisciplinary Studies.
It will comprise three modules. Two modules, which will cover China's economic model and culture, will be held in Singapore over 20 weeks.
This will culminate in the final module, which includes a 12-day, fully funded immersion programme in China.
Head of the development team for the CCR programme and senior lecturer, Mr Kow Kok Sing, said they plan for students to visit start-ups and industrial parks in China.
They also hope to arrange for homestays during the cultural immersion.
Plans to roll out a similar programme designed for working adults under NP's Continuing Education Training Academy are also in the pipeline.
Simon, an accountancy student, said: "Since I have suppliers in China, I can learn about their culture and then adapt to their preferences for doing business.
"Maybe I'll find out they don't like handling transactions on weekends, then I'll stop asking my suppliers to do that."
NP's principal Clarence Ti said: "Through this programme, we hope our students will have better knowledge of China's dynamism and complexity, and see how hungry the Chinese people are."
CEO of Business China and Member of Parliament, Ms Sun Xueling, said this programme has been in the works since November 2015, under the Go East committee of Business China in partnership with NP.
Business China also has other programmes, including an immersion trip and youth forums, under the Go East initiative for their youth chapter of over 100 Singaporean students.
She added: "In today's context of a highly globalised world, and a fast-evolving China, it is important for our future entrepreneurs and talents to be well-connected and engaged with the world's major markets."
NP film and media studies student Azrinnizzah Mohammad Azhar, 17, is looking forward to the programme.
She cannot speak Mandarin, but signed up for the CCR programme because she has been interested in Chinese culture since visiting China with her family in 2014.
Azrinnizzah said: "My friends were supportive, but a bit shocked at first.
"But I'm very excited to immerse myself in Chinese culture."
This article was first published on March 3, 2017.
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