By Cassandra Hendricks, Global MBA class representative 2012-2013, U.S.A.
Global MBA students are currently spending six weeks at ESSEC’s campus in Singapore. The timing is perfect as it allows us to escape the frigid and dreary winter conditions in Cergy. Also, it placed us in Singapore when ESSEC held the highly anticipated groundbreaking ceremony for the new campus. This event was the culmination of years of work and preparation towards realizing this goal.
The Global MBA student representatives were among the esteemed guests invited to attend this prestigious event. The ceremony took place on a hot and humid Tuesday afternoon. Guests assembled at ESSEC’s campus in the National Library Building and boarded buses for the short ride to the new site. The mood was reminiscent of a grade school field trip as professors, administrators, alumni, guests, and a handful of nervous students greeted each other. The short ride passed quickly amid excited chatter and laughter. Francoise Rey, in her usual manner, stopped to welcome everyone with a smile and kind word. We saw a few of our professors from Term 1 and wondered whether now would be a good time to discuss our final exams and course grades. We wisely decided against it.
After arriving at Nepal Park, we walked a short distance beyond the INSEAD campus. After rounding a bend, we were greeted by a reception area at the mouth of a large tent. Guests spent a few minutes mingling before being seated for the ceremony. We strategically chose seats under the ceiling fans in vain attempts to keep the rising heat at bay. The ceremony opened with Professor Hervé Mathe and the speakers included alumni, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Dr. Pierre Tapie, and Mr. Yeoh Keat Chuan, the Managing Director of the Singapore Economic Development Board. They all expressed their enthusiasm for this project and the future of ESSEC Asia-Pacific. This campus will establish that ESSEC is strong in Asia as well as Europe and that ESSEC has a long term view of the changing landscape of education. And then came the moment we’d all been waiting for: Dr. Pierre Tapie, Professor Hervé Mathe, Yeoh Keat Chuan, and Heah Son Poh were invited on stage to wield shovels and break ground on the new site. The paparazzi and audience snapped photos while the ground breakers posed and reveled in the moment.
Directly following the ceremony, guests mingled and enjoyed light refreshments. The iced lemonade was most welcome as the temperature seemed to have risen drastically in the space of one hour. We mixed with familiar faces and compared experiences with alumni. Every conversation seemed to gravitate towards the future of ESSEC Asia-Pacific and the importance of establishing itself as a permanent institution in Asia.
On the bus ride back, we explored our swag bags and discussed the day’s events. The new campus is not slated to be operational until 2015 and there are many steps to complete before then. It is evident that this project has captured the attention of students, alumni, administrators and supporters of ESSEC both near and far. We were delighted to be included in this momentous event and we will be sure to closely follow the progress of this project. And hopefully we’ll be invited back for the opening ceremonies in 2015.
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