Students Start With Intensive Theory in Logan and Go Off to Apply it in Asia, Europe, and South America
By Klydi Heywood
After four weeks of little sleep, intense studying, and big projects, Parker Brower is ready for all of his hard work to pay off — now that he is more than 5,000 miles away from where it all began.
Parker is currently in South America where he is prepared to understand the cultures and economics of the countries he will be visiting because such preparation is a key part of what makes the Global Learning Experience work.
When most students are finished with school for the summer, the Global Learning Experience students are just starting. Their first four weeks are in Logan where they are tackling challenging classes in economics, finance, and management on an accelerated schedule.
Anna Vardanyan in Asia
When the students travel, the work continues. The concepts they learn are given added depth because they are immersed in new cultures where they are able to talk directly with business, civic, and academic leaders.
Liz Allred, director for Global Enrichment, said business students need to gain an international perspective to be prepared for business today and that is best done by experiencing first-hand new cultures and economies.
“They begin to understand that having specific, technical knowledge is critical, but one must understand how to apply that knowledge in different circumstances, cultures, and markets,” Liz said.
This year the summer program has changed. Up until this time all trips were the same length of time.
Now, the Asia trip will be about four weeks, South America will be three weeks, and the group traveling to Europe will be gone for approximately two weeks. Liz said the time lengths were adjusted to better meet the needs of the students and because of increasing travel costs.
Cassie Flitton chose to go on the Asia trip because she said it fit best with her busy summer schedule. Her husband will be leaving for the entire month of June, so Cassie decided this would be a good time to go.
For the first time, the USU students who travel to South America will be visiting Argentina.
“Argentina has an interesting economy,” Liz said. “We have some good contacts there and have also been able to develop some great new ones.”
Clayton Fielding visits the Saint Gregory the Illuminator Catherdral, in Yerevan, Armenia.
Although the students are no longer in a traditional classroom setting, they are still completing assignments aimed at helping them better understand how concepts taught in Logan are applied in foreign settings. Liz says that most students keep a daily journal and gather information they will need to write papers that will be due two weeks after they get home.
For those who travel abroad “there are great networking opportunities,” Liz said. “They can network with other students, professors, even people in the companies they visit.”
Cassie said she will be better prepared because of her travel experience than she would have been if she had only taken traditional classes.
“I really hope it will help me to stand out in the job application process,” Cassie said.
Parker said that during his four-week economics class he learned the government controls everything in Argentina, but until he got there, he didn't realize how extreme that control was.
"I have learned that I would never invest out here because everything is so restricted," Parker said. “It was really hard to get dollars or pesos because the government has such a tight control on everything economically.”
Bill Van Dyke said he never realized how hard it was to start a business in South America.
“In the U.S. we can get online and start a business within a few hours, but in South America it can take weeks or months to start a business legally,” he said.
He explained that in those countries there is a lot of paper work and “red tape” to go through in order to start a business.
Students also see that other countries have much in common with the United States.
Kjersten Adams was one of the first people to work with the Small Enterprise and Education Development SEED program while on a Global Learning Experience. She said the experience working with entrepreneurs in developing countries helped her understand how business principles could be applied even in such a basic setting.
“I got to see first-hand how starting a business can be something that benefits not only the entrepreneurs but the people they serve,” she said. “Despite cultural differences, the basic principles of business were the same, and that was very enlightening to me.”
When the program first started in 2006, less than one percent of Huntsman School undergraduate students had engaged in a global learning experience. Now, about nine percent of Huntsman undergraduates leave with hands-on global experience. This summer there are 74 students who are traveling abroad.
The Global Learning Experience summer programs are open to all USU students.