By Steve Eaton, BottomLine editor
The Jon M. Huntsman School of Business gave 42 students a new world view this summer by launching them into an eight-week academic experience that took them through Chile, Peru and Brazil.
The trip offered them the chance to hear lectures at the Pontifica Universidad Catolica de Valparaiso in Chile and the University of PUC-RIO in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. At the universities they heard from experts about the economy, culture and history of the areas they were visiting.
They also visited a United States embassy, a U.S. consulate, a steel company called Companhia Vale do Rio Doce, a busy sea port and a water treatment facility in Valparaiso, Chile.
They met with a director of corporate strategy for the Banco Santander in Santiago, Chile, and with the president of DanPer, a Danish-Peruvian corporation that is the third largest agribusiness company in Peru. The company, which cultivates and processes asparagus and artichokes for the fresh market as well as the canned goods market, believes it has a social responsibility to give back to the community. In partnership with Utah State University, it identified local groups in the community that might prove good candidates for micro-loans.
They questioned people at the Institute for Liberty and Democracy, an organization founded by Hernando de Soto. De Soto authored The Mystery of Capital, a book that was required reading on the trip. Alfonso López-Chau, a director of the Central Reserve Bank, came to the hotel in Lima where the students were staying to meet and speak with students. López-Chau said he is considering running for president of Peru.
The group spent the final days of its trip in Peru where they investigated micro-loan possibilities and staffed several eyeglass clinics for the Utah-based non-profit The Hope Alliance. They were required to work together as teams on challenging projects and to make presentations in the final days of the trip about what they learned.
Chris Fawson, senior associate dean for academic and international affairs, made the trek with the students. After the teams gave presentations at the end of the trip about the work they had accomplished, he gave them advice on how to make the most of their challenging experiences.
Megan Starley shot this photo of Adam Phelps soaking up the scenery atop Machu Picchu.
"Every one of us has been pushed beyond our boundaries and we have discovered things that we could not discover in any other context," Fawson said. "We are all going to take away little things that are going to change who we are."
He predicted those who went on the trip could be more flexible in pushing beyond their boundaries if they internalized the lessons they learned.
"Maybe you will be better at business," he said. "Maybe you will be better at discovering entrepreneurial opportunities. I don't know if that part will change. But you will definitely be better human beings. You will be able to connect with people better because of this experience, and ultimately, business is about relationships."
Several students talked about how much they learned as they met with government, business, academic and civic leaders.
"Every student in the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business should do the study abroad program because it was the best thing that I did while I was in college," Casey Rowland said. "I think that by going on the program, students won't only get a few classes out of the way and be that much closer to graduation, but they will grow so much as an individual. I have watched people come together and do amazing things while we have been on the trip."