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Michael K. Lewis: An American running summer camps to promote Chinese children's growth

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chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: Jul 02, 2024

Editor's note: In this column of Alumni Spotlight, China Daily aims to reach 100 international alumni who have studied in China. They are invited to share their unique experiences and reflections, offering valuable insights and inspiration.

Michael K. Lewis (left) at work [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

"Camping with family and friends was the most wonderful part of my childhood. As I grew up, I wondered if this could be my career, and luckily, I succeeded," Michael K. Lewis said.

He is currently the co-founder and director of Camp Greenwoods, part of the YMCE Group, a leading outdoor organization based in Beijing. He said that his entrepreneurial spirit was inspired by his family and his experience studying at the University of International Business and Economics (UIBE) in China back in 2007.

"The invaluable experience in China motivated me to better myself," said Lewis.

He believes that UIBE's motto of "Erudition, Honesty, Endeavor and Perfection" helped him navigate the early stages of his career. Additionally, the MBA program provided him with professional knowledge and shaped his steadfast belief in continuous improvement.

As the old Chinese saying goes, "Beginnings are rocky." The primary challenge Lewis' team encountered was the lack of understanding of Chinese customers, making it hard to expand market channels. Moreover, the cultural differences between the United States and China posed tough challenges. Summer camp education has a long history in the US, while it seems to be relatively new to people in China.

Indeed, summer camps have a history of over 170 years in America and have played an integral role in US culture. With China's Ministry of Education implementing new policies to enhance quality education emphasizing independent thinking, creativity and practical skills, summer camp education is gradually gaining momentum. This development is beneficial for Lewis and his endeavors.

"I'm delighted to see children grow happily, discover their potential and pursue their dreams at Camp Greenwoods," said Lewis.

So far, Camp Greenwoods has steadily gained recognition in China, operating five campsites with over 60 full-time employees and several offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Suzhou. Lewis and his family have also enjoyed a happy and fulfilling life in Shanghai.

Regarding his studies in China, Lewis said that he gained invaluable knowledge, professional skills and found both love and career partners. He believes that studying in China was not just an academic endeavor but also a significant personal growth experience. In an unfamiliar foreign country, he learned how to communicate with people from diverse cultural backgrounds, confront challenges and maintain a positive attitude.

"Keep an open mind and be brave to try new things and make new friends, for you never know when and where these experiences will reward and benefit you," he said. Lewis encourages young people to cherish the opportunity to study abroad and to embrace the beauty and diversity of the world.

In China, he has forged his own legend through passion and diligence. He transformed his love for camping into a business that not only fulfills his personal dream but also positively affects and changes the lives of Chinese children. He is committed to creating cherished memories and growth opportunities for even more children.

Gao Wenjun contributed to this story.