Release: Immediate
Contact: Brian ZelaskoDavid Stawasz, or Barbara Moffat

Business Students' China Olympics Trip a Success; Read the Blogs about Their Eight-Day Trip to Beijing

Posted June 20, 2008

chinaolymp.gifWhen the eyes of the world were glued on Beijing for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad, a group of 13 students got a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to put on an event featuring more than 10,000 athletes competing in 302 separate events. The students’ trip to Beijing August 8-16 was part of a unique class offered through the College's School of Business.

The trip was the brainchild of Curt Hamakawa, an assistant professor of sport management and director of the College’s Center for International Sport Business. “When Western New England College hired me after my 16 years with the United States Olympic Committee, it was quite natural that I would seek to leverage my knowledge of the Olympic Movement and international contacts for the benefit of our students,” says Hamakawa, a former director of international relations with the USOC. Click here to read Hamakawa’s blog about the experience. To read student Marti Blum's Blog, click here.

Hamakawa, fellow sport management professor Dan Covell, and the students took in several Olympic sports, including track & field, beach volleyball, tennis, softball, boxing, basketball, baseball, water polo, badminton, and soccer.

Pictured at Beijing Capital International Airport are students (L-R): Shaq Walker, Bre Roche, Rob Horton, Amanda Goldsmith, Mike Kuchno, Whitney DePrizio, Ashley Richard, Jenn Ashley, Jess DiPietro, Lauren Brouillette, Dan Covell, Jake Roy, and Marti Blum.

In Beijing, the group met up with fellow student A.J. Pappas, who had been in China since June. According to Hamakawa’s blog, one of the longest-standing traditions at the Olympic Games is pin trading, in which people swap lapel pins, acquiring a collection of pins from around the world. Prior to the trip, Pappas, the 2007 recipient of the Alumni Golf Tournament scholarship, was commissioned to find a pin factory in China to create Western New England College pins. “As expected,” blogged Hamakawa, “A.J. came through. . .with these handsome and highly coveted dime-sized Western New England College pins to trade.”

Pappas says that “being introduced to a new culture combined with seeing and meeting the top athletes in the world is something that few people will be able to experience. The friends I made and the events I attended are memories that will never be forgotten.”

In addition to watching competitions, the students met “with leading officials of sport, business, government, and academia, as well as visit some of the iconic cultural sites and destinations such as the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace, and Great Wall of China,” says Hamakawa. The students took part in an online course to prepare for the trip, learning about the business of international sport and Chinese culture. “The Beijing Olympic Games are all the more attractive because of a growing interest in and general curiosity about China’s ancient history and cultural heritage,” says Hamakawa.

The students say they gained a lot of knowledge and insight into the Chinese culture. Amanda Goldsmith, a junior majoring in Psychology, says that “going to China for the Olympics was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and it opened my eyes to trying new things and becoming more adventurous.”


Western New England University is a private, independent, coeducational institution founded in 1919. Located on an attractive 215-acre suburban campus in Springfield, Massachusetts, Western New England University serves 3,955 students, including 2,575 full-time undergraduate students. Undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs are offered through Colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business, Engineering, and Pharmacy, and School of Law.


Follow Us!



Media Contacts

Brian Zelasko
Director for Media and Community Relations
office: 413-796-2261

Dave Stawasz
AVP for Marketing Communications
office: 413-796-2026
mobile: 413-214-8001

In The Media

Professor Julie Steiner

Professor Bridgette Baldwin

Dr. Tim Vercellotti

Professor Erin Buzuvis
Pepperdine Graphic

Dr. Jeanne Hart-Steffes
Western Mass News


Athletics News

Contact Information

For more information about a news item or to list an event, please email the Office of Marketing and Communications, or call 413-782-1626. For all other requests pertaining to the Western New England University, please use our contact forms.