Cornell-Tsinghua FMBA Class of 2021 Attends Dragon Boat Race

This fall, students in the Cornell-Tsinghua Dual Degree Finance MBA Program for the first time participated in an adventurous dragon boat race on Cayuga Lake in Ithaca. The excitement started when the students arrived on campus for orientation on September 30. The students were divided into six teams of about 16 to 18 members each and were given 15 minutes to create a team name, slogan, and chant. One team came up with the most memorable slogan,“Beast from the East,” prompting laughter from the students as another team had come up with an opposing slogan — “East from the Beast!”


When race day finally came on October 10, more than 100 students and staff arrived at Cass Park along the lake on a sunny afternoon. The students gathered in their teams that were each assigned to a tent. The Ithaca Dragon Boat Club Coaches called Teams 1 through 3 to gear up and get in line for the safety and paddling instructions.


Teams 1-6 under their individual tents preparing for the races


Team Number 5: 54 Youth


Team 1-3 practicing for the first set of races


Coaches gathering the teams together for Practice Orientation


As the races were about to begin, the first three teams — Pe, Chang Jiang, and Beast from the East — climbed into the dragon boats and started paddling their way out onto Cayuga Lake. The spectators could hear students pounding on large drums, trying to keep all their teammates in sync. Each team chanted their own slogans, one louder than the other. After the teams saw their first set of scores, the second set of races began and the competing teams were all fired up to claim first place and take home a shiny gold medal.


Professor Ya-Ru Chen cheering on the students


Team races


As the races ended and the judges began calculating the scores, the students reviewed how they did and took photos of the amazing scenery. Professor Ya-Ru Chen, Academic Dean for China Initiatives at Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, announced the winners. The fourth, fifth and sixth place winners were called upone by one to receive their certificates. Team Pe received the Three Stooges Award, Team 54 Youth received the Rock the Boat Award, and Team Sunk Cost Titanic received the Energizer Dragon certificate. Team Chang Jiang Hao won the first-place gold medal with a record average time of 2:33:21. Beast from the East won the second-place silver medal with an amazing time of 2:34:44. And Team Dragon King won third-place bronze medal with a solid time of 2:45:32. 


Team Chang Jiang: Gold Medal Winners with Ya-Ru Chen


At 4 p.m., the group boarded the bus and headed to Professor Ya-Ru Chen’s house for a barbecue dinner catered by the famous Dinosaur BBQ chain known throughout New York state. Professor Ya-Ru Chen warmly welcomed the students and staff to her home, where all the tables were covered with red table cloths and beautiful yellow roses. Professor Eric Yeung, a professor at the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, and Professor Luo Zuo, an associate professor at the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, also arrived to have dinner and spend time with the students.


Professor Ya-Ru Chen welcoming the students


Students relaxing at the BBQ


After eating the delicious barbecue dinner, the students played games, sang karaoke, and socialized together. The event provided a relaxing time, since they had just finished two important exams. The students talked about how the dragon boat races promoted teamwork, collaboration, and leadership, and how the event had allowed them to bond together. It was truly the perfect ending to such a wonderful and exciting day, which launched a new tradition of dragon boat racing for students in the Cornell-Tsinghua Dual Degree Finance MBA.


Students Reflections:


“After two days of exams, the dragon boat race and the dragon BBQ became the highlights of the day! Thank you for all the careful arrangements. Every day in Cornell is memorable.” (Zhiqin Dong)



“The dragon boat event was a success and it led to a wonderful group experience and understanding of teamwork culture and the will power to win. We are so proud of ourselves and felt like a team winning the game. In this great warm welcome party, talking and laughing with all the professors and classmates in Ya-Ru's lovely house just made us feel like a real big family.” (Xiaojie Fang)


“After finishing two exams, we immediately went into the dragon boat races and we fought hard to work together and we achieved victory through our collaboration. The party at Professor Ya-Ru Chen’s house was so much fun and this residential session overseas allowed us to all laugh together and make many wonderful experiences.” (Biao Quan)


“We were all a little nervous at first, but through our teamwork and group collaboration we were able to come together and enjoy the activity and sunshine. Ya-Ru’s BBQ dinner was awesome! The chicken wings, ribs, and coleslaw were the best BBQ food I have ever tasted. It was so picturesque and beautiful in Professor Ya-Ru Chen’s courtyard, while enjoying it with our classmates and other professors.” (Siu Chau Kevin Tang)


“I found the dragon boat event an enriching experience. It taught us the essence of why the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The combination of physical and psychological demands while racing forced us to be more cooperative and in sync as a group, all qualities necessary to be effective future leaders. The dinner gathering at Ya-Ru’s house was unforgettable and much needed. We need many opportunities to bond and let our guard down in order to really know each other beyond the surface level, whether it was through showcasing our wit or vulnerabilities. The intimate setting of last night gave us this opportunity.”  (Steven Jun Tao)


 “The dragon boat competition really gave us an exciting team collaboration experience. Everyone contributed and made great efforts to the team, which was far more interesting and memorable than I thought. The gathering at Ya-Ru’s house was moving and cheerful. Everyone enjoyed different kinds of games and it helped us shake off a lot of pressure.”(Yu Tian)


“It was a fantastic experience. The dragon boats let me know the power of the team, and the dinner was delicious and a great opportunity to relax.” (JielunWang)


稿件来源于康奈尔大学约翰逊管理学院官方微信公众号(SC Johnson Beijing)