Tag Archives: study abroad

Business women in India and America share hope

Guest post by Emily Gerloff (UW business major, graduating in 2011)

“Nearly everything you do is of no importance, but it is important that you do it.” -Mahatma Gandhi

I was told that India is life-changing.  After hearing this on several occasions, I remember thinking to myself: What a strange concept. How can a country be life-changing?

After spending a month on the Half the Sky Exploration Seminar via the UW Foster School of Business, I am still unable to express exactly how India changed my life, but I know with absolute certainty that it did.

Emily (far right) sits with Indian women at a microfinance repayment gathering.

Emily (far right) sits with Indian women at a microfinance repayment gathering.

During the micro-lending meetings I expected to see poor, impoverished women with sob stories capable of making me instantaneously empty my pockets. I was surprised and relieved to find it was nothing like what I had imagined. These women did not have an ounce of desperation in their voices as they told their stories. They are an absolute testament to the power of hope and determination.  They live their lives with an innate sense of duty and purpose I can only compare to an American’s sense of equality and freedom.

Another surprise was how closely the lives of these women parallel my own. The micro-loans they receive are similar to the loans that fund my education.  I come from an underprivileged family (by American standards) and would be unable to attend college if it weren’t for the grants and loans provided to me by the government. Although I am occasionally jealous of my fellow students who will graduate with zero debt, it doesn’t change the fact that I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to better my life. I don’t think I am any less deserving of an education just because I was born into a family that couldn’t pay for one. This is a similar stance these women take regarding the micro-loans they receive. They possess gratitude and a humble belief that they deserve the right to prove their worth.

India changed my life.  I have seen first-hand the power of hope and determination and won’t deny myself the chance to see how far my own hope and determination will take me.

Emily is a University of Washington student participant in the Foster School of Business study tour during fall quarter 2010. The trip, focused on Women Leadership in India, was organized by Foster faculty member Cate Goethals.

Expanding cosmos—women in leadership study tour

Guest post by Melanie Sharpe, Foster MBA 2011 with a global business focus

BananaLeafIn the pre-trip brief just hours before we left for India, our professor Cate Goethals made a preparatory comment I’ll always remember as I weave my way through the world: “Becoming cosmopolitan means expanding and pushing the current boundaries and edges of your world.”

The trip to India expanded my cosmos in that very way. It exposed me to a diverse array of Indian leaders that redefined my perspective of business leadership as a woman—an aspect of business school that is largely overlooked and one I admittedly had not taken the time to consider prior to the transformative trip.

Inspiring women entrepreneurs

We encountered a colorful gamut of inspiring women. From workaholic bankers to avant-garde filmmakers to powerful lawyers and wealthy philanthropists to arguably the most influential female spiritual guru in the world to rural tree harvesters—all incredibly ambitious and driven women who seemed to have something very profound in common: They all seemed to be working to uplift others around them.

Call it social entrepreneurship or call it a compulsion to help better their community or family. Sometimes this innate desire compelled them to work 16-hour days to allow their fatherless children to have a better future. Sometimes that internal murmur told them that funding clean water was the only way to ensure the success of future generations of Indians. Sometimes that calling told them to hold and convey love to thousands of people everyday. In each instance, the evidence of that desire to give was palpable and tremendously inspiring.

TajThe pinnacle of the trip was hearing Rohini Nilekani, wife of the Infosys founder, speak at her clean water non-profit, Arghyam. Her profound statement: “Your generation no longer has the luxury of pessimism” was galvanizing. No longer can we absentmindedly guzzle water from plastic bottles or live in first-world luxury flushing away our waste with fresh water without considering the ramifications to the earth or other members of the world community. Her CEO Sunita Nadhamuni was an example of such awareness. Nadhamuni and her husband had reinvented the American business school dream of Silicon Valley wealth, prominent management positions and a constant search for “more” by transitioning their careers to work that directly helped communities of people have access to clean water.

Globally interconnected economy

The trip to India opened my world to the interconnectedness of the global economy. Imagine Dharavi: Asia’s largest slum, prominently featured in the blockbuster film “Slumdog Millionaire” as an impenetrable, crime-filled, filthy dystopia. The reality? The living conditions were certainly difficult: On average there is 1 toilet per 1,500 people! But the families inside the neat and tidy (albeit tiny) apartments were hardworking, entrepreneurial and contributing to global economic epicenters of recycling and clothes dyeing. In fact, many of the raw materials that we consume in the United States are sourced straight from Dharavi.

I left India transformed. The trip confirmed what I had suspected for my own career path: My own compulsion to serve was an innate calling that could be aligned with both business ideals and women’s leadership. Arriving at this realization completed the goal of the trip. My cosmos is expanded forever.

Melanie is an MBA student participant in the University of Washington Foster School of Business study tour during fall quarter 2010. The trip, focused on Women Leadership in India, was organized by Foster faculty member Cate Goethals.

Foster MBA explores Rwanda post graduation

Guest post by Foster alumnus Jim Bullock (MBA 2010)

So, what comes to mind when you think of Rwanda?  Maybe you think of the ethnic tension that culminated in the tragic events of 1994. Maybe you think of poachers in the jungle, hunting mountain gorillas for their heads and skins. Maybe you think of a rapidly developing economy and see opportunity. If you’re like me, you’re not really sure what to think. I guess I thought of all those things and a million more before my flight touched down in Rwanda’s capital city of Kigali almost two weeks ago. Now I’m sitting in a sophisticated café, sipping a café au lait, and trying to put this tiny African nation into a category: an impossible task.

A snapshot of my current life – international work and travels

I finished graduate school at the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington a few months ago. Before that I worked as an engineer, mostly in California. While at Foster, I received an offer to work with an NGO called Rwanda Girls Initiative (RGI) in order to help them with their business operations. Soon after accepting a three-month position with RGI in Rwanda, I was selected for a fellowship that offered me funding for eight months of international travel. Naturally, I decided to do both. I plan to work with RGI for the next three months before embarking on eight months of independent travel. Now here I am, 12 days into the journey, with almost eleven-months lying in front of me.

It’s hard for me to succinctly explain what attracted me to the Rwanda Girls Initiative and Bonderman Fellowship. Promoting gender equality, meeting people from around the world, providing education in rural Africa, wanderlust, a guilty “western” conscious, curiosity…hey, take your pick or make up another reason. Suffice to say it seemed like a once in a lifetime experience for me to make a real impact in a very interesting way. There’s nothing I would rather be doing right now.

After a week I’ve got some stories about the business culture, regional politics, the Kigali Memorial Center, friendly locals, restaurants and cafes, and of course my neighbor’s rooster (who likes to wake me up at 4:30am). But sadly I’m about done with my coffee and it’s time for me to catch a moto-taxi home. I’ll write again someday soon. Until then, murabeho.

Jim Bullock (MBA 2010) is a UW Foster School of Business graduate, consultant for Rwanda Girls Initiative and recipient of an international travel University of Washington Bonderman Fellowship.

MBA study tour: Kenya the magnificent

Guest post by Tarang Shah, Foster MBA student and 2010 study tour participant

kenya3Magnificent is an understatement. The Kenya study tour is, hands down, one of the top 3 MBA experiences I have had at the Foster School of Business. Not surprisingly, this statement echoes the sentiments of a lot of other folks who went with me on this study tour. There is something special about spending two weeks with your classmates, colleagues, and teachers, far away from your homeland, that brings people together to form inseparable bonds.

We visited a breadth of firms and organizations including financial, airline, consumer product, telecommunication, micro-finance, non-profit… and schools. Some us even got a chance to attend a class at the Strathmore Business School, which confirmed that “case discussions” are the way to go in business schools. It also confirmed that the frameworks we learn at the business school stay the same across the continents, but the implementation details vary to accommodate various cultural, economical, geographical, and environmental aspects.

hakimWe had the honor to visit an orphanage in the outskirts of Nairobi. The hope and smiles on the kids’ faces were truly inspirational.

We went on a 3-day safari and saw the Big 5 animals (lions, leopards, elephants, buffalos, and rhinos) in addition to ostriches, zebras, dik diks, hippos, giraffes, gazelles, warthogs and several other animals and birds.

On the last day, Mutua’s (one of our 3 rock-star study tour leaders) parents invited us for lunch at their home and we got to experience the warmth of a traditional Kenyan family. What a perfect way to end this surreal experience. I want to live it again!

 

kenyaThe Global Business Center at the University of Washington Foster School of Business offers students study tours and other international experiences each year. Study tours expose students and faculty to businesses, cultures and adventures to gain global perspectives and augment academic studies. 2010 was the first year the Global Business Center sent MBA students to East Africa, specifically Kenya. They were accompanied by Foster School Assistant Professor of Management Chris Bauman.

MBA study tour in the Middle East

Guest post by Thomas Potier, Foster MBA student and 2010 study tour participant

Middle_EastWe landed in Dubai after 16 hrs of flight in a top-notch triple 7 with the widest screen entertainment units that I had ever seen. Getting out, I remember feeling the same as I felt when I landed in 2001 in Beijing: disconnected from my reality. I felt quite lost until I heard the familiar voice of Florence (MBA student trip leader): “Girls, there’s a restroom here. I’ll wait for you if you wanna go.” We were in good hands.

Wonders of the time spent in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Muscat flash before my eyes as I write this: So much to remember. The first of these wonders are the bonds I created with the Foster MBA and faculty group. I sometimes knew them—as classmates or teacher—and sometimes didn’t. The relationships I forged in the Middle East will always be somewhat stronger and tighter.

There is also this culture clash:

  • These female master’s students with a veil whom we were asked to talk to in a group with at least one female representative
  • Sam at Sport City in Dubai saying: “We build first and see what to do with it.”
  • Very formal presentations, especially when His Excellency showed up
  • The desert full of buildings and expensive cars….

Middle_East2Finally, there was the fun. The desert tour, snorkeling tour and Sheesha evenings.

Taking the plane back home, I pictured myself having an internship at Masdar City—building the least energy-consuming city, the first carbon-neutral city for one of the highest energy-producing countries.

Marrying antonymic themes is what the Middle East thrives at:

  • Cities with a lot of water inside the harshest deserts
  • Providing a lot of fun with great openness in a very austere society

I hope one day I will have the chance to go back and marvel again.

The Global Business Center at the University of Washington Foster School of Business offers students study tours and other international experiences each year. Study tours expose students and faculty to businesses, cultures and adventures to gain global perspectives and augment academic studies. 2010 was the first year the Global Business Center sent MBA students to the Middle East, specifically United Arab Emirates and Oman. They were accompanied by Foster School Assistant Professor of Finance Thomas Gilbert.

Undergrads consult with farmers over spring break

Over 2010 spring break, roughly 29 University of Washington undergraduate students, most from the Foster School, visited a mountain village in Panama to help the villagers improve their farming business.

The team spent most of their spring break on Machuca Farm in the Cocle province, roughly three hours from Panama City. The farm is a 25-minute hike from the end of the nearest roadway. The community has about 800 inhabitants, but the farm group that the students focused on has 14 members and supports roughly 35 people. The farm grows yucca, plantain, rice, beans, corn and other crops and also raises chickens, goats and fish in a pond. Read more.

Click image above to play video.

Foster students return to Panama for spring break

This spring break roughly 29 University of Washington students, most from the Foster School, will descend on a mountain village in Panama to help the villagers there improve their farming business and hopefully rise a little further above subsistence-level farming.

The trip was set up by the Global Business Brigades, a nationwide student-led organization with a UW chapter. A dozen students are also getting course credits for the trip through the Foster School. The lead UW student organizers—Foster students David Almeida and Blake Strickland—said the team plans also to revisit a coffee plantation where 18 Foster students spent the 2009 spring break. Almeida’s group will evaluate the impact the students had on the coffee plantation and find out if the farmers have put into practice the team’s recommendations.

“All 29 of us are extremely excited for this chance to make a real and positive impact in the lives of people living in Machuca,” Almeida said. “Through working with the farmers, living in the village, embracing their culture, and making a difference, the next week will be sure to change our lives as much as theirs.”

This year, the team will spend most of their spring break on the Machuca Farm located in the Cocle province, roughly three hours from Panama City. The farm is a 25-minute hike from the end of the nearest roadway. The community has about 800 inhabitants, but the farm group that the students are focusing on has 14 members and supports roughly 35 people. The farm grows yucca, plantain, rice, beans, corn and other crops and also raises chickens, goats and fish in a pond.

In the team’s trip preparations, the undergraduates identified four main areas where they hope to have an impact—processing chickens, bread making, goat milk products and organic products.

Almeida and several other team members plan to post updates on this blog. Stay tuned.

Study abroad photo contest winners: Spain, South Africa, India

Every year a fresh batch of University of Washington Foster School of Business students embark on trips across the globe to study or work abroad, absorb a language, fortify their business studies and explore other cultures. Each student comes away with something different. The Global Business Center third annual study abroad photo contest for undergraduates and MBAs captures a snapshot of the Foster student experience. 2009 was a particularly close race and judges consisted of more than 30 Foster faculty and staff. Winners are:

FIRST PLACE: Darcy Llyod, undergrad – Cadiz, Spain study trip

GBC_photo_contest1

Title: Desert Caravan
Location of photo: Somewhere in the Moroccan desert

Caption: After a night spent camping in the Moroccan desert, our trusty camels left us to finish our tour by van. A bit more comfortable, but much less interesting. 

Experience abroad: I spent 9 months in southern Spain last year. During this time I got a real taste for the Spanish culture, but probably the most amazing part of the whole experience was the chance I had to travel all throughout Europe and even down into Morocco. Seeing the differences in cultures was and eye-opening experience that I won’t soon forget.

 

 

SECOND PLACE: Jonah Peters, undergrad – Cape Town, South Africa study trip

GBC_photo_contest2

Title: On Top of the Bottom of the World
Location of photo: On top of Table Mountain, overlooking Cape Town with the South Atlantic Ocean in the background

Caption: Perhaps I should have purchased the UW Student Insurance Plan…

Experience abroad: My program in Cape Town, South Africa had two components. The CHID curriculum examined social movements surrounding apartheid, through the scope of hip-hop music and other forms of activism. Our program allowed us to build relationships with local NGOs and other international organizations that promote, among other things, a healthy dialogue surrounding social issues in the wake of apartheid. The program also allowed me to complete a “community engagement” project, where I single-handedly taught economics to a class of 10th graders at a severely underfunded public school in one of the townships in the Cape Flats.

THIRD PLACE: Yan To, undergrad – India study trip

GBC_photo_contest3

Title: Simply Saris
Location of photo: Bangalore, India

Caption: University of Washington students touring a village near Bangalore interacted with rural families in India who received land ownership. Rural Development Institute works to secure land access and improve land rights to the rural poor, women, and other marginalized groups.

Experience abroad: India is truly a land of extreme contrasts and is unlike any other place I have ever been. I had the unique opportunity to learn about both sides of India; the flourishing as well as the developing country. Upon arriving in India, I was overwhelmed with sights, smells, and sounds of the city. It contains the best and the worst all in one place. While the twenty-first century embraces democracy, remnants of the 19th century still survive in Indian society. Amidst the enormous wealth, the severity of poverty is apparent. Just outside our hotel gates, we saw families living in makeshift homes. Everywhere you look, there is evidence of magnificent accomplishment mixed in with a harsh dose of reality in which most people live.

Foster undergrads study in China

Great Wall of ChinaWhile UW Foster School faculty met with businesses and toured China last week, Foster undergraduate students are studying in China this fall, on one of many undergrad study or work abroad trips. Foster students’ first impressions and experiences in China?

Great Wall of China toboggan descent
“…the view was amazing and we really felt chills being able to say that we had climbed the Great Wall. However, what really made the experience great was the way down. …we chose to toboggan and it was probably the most exhilarating thing we did in Beijing.” – Alan

Lesson on local study habits
“Even though this is not my first time here, I am still very excited to be a student at Peking University, the best university in China. Many of my classmates are exchange students from all around the world, but surprisingly about 80% of them are from Europe. I was expecting more exchange students to be from the US, but there is only a handful.

“I also made friends with local Chinese students. During the break in the evening’s Operation Management class, I had a conversation with a local student who sat behind me. I asked him about the typical life of a typical Peking University student. Some of the students can study 14 hours straight per day! To deal with this study-mania, the school completely turns off the electricity in the dormitory at 11pm.” – Daniel

Find more Foster undergraduate international adventures on the Undergrads Go Global blog.

Foster faculty go to China

By Krista Peterson, associate director of the Foster Global Business Center.

Shanghai PhotoIn just over a week, the Global Business Center is leading the first-ever Foster School of Business faculty study trip to China. From September 12 – 20, we’ll visit Shanghai and Beijing, hear from companies and government organizations on the current business environment, developments in green energy and renewable resources, adapted business strategies, and the unique challenges faced by China and Chinese business in the 21st century.

This program was designed to augment international business research and education. Through this trip, faculty can gain potential research data sources or collaborative partners, as well as current case examples for teaching and analysis.

The group will visit or hear from iconic companies such as Microsoft, Weyerhaeuser, Boeing, and F5 Networks.  We’ll also hear from the Energy Resource Institute (a partner in the US-China Clean Energy Forum); the US Commercial Service; and visit the new US Embassy in Beijing and others. Faculty will have the opportunity to meet with professors at Shanghai Jaio Tong University, and a small group will make a presentation at Peking University.

We will also meet with Foster alumni living or working in China.

Faculty voyaging on this pilot trip are Doug MacLachlan, Jennifer Koski, Jarrad Harford, Ming Fan, Apurva Jain, and Jane George-Falvy Reynolds.