FALL 2008 VOL. 9 NO. 2

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Smith Undergrads Expand Their Horizons
Through Winter Study Trips Abroad

DRESSED IN TRADITIONAL TUNISIAN DESERT GARB,STUDENTS SET OUT FOR A CAMEL RIDE AT SUNSET AT THE EDGE OF THE SAHARA DESERT IN DOUZ.For many undergraduates, winter term is a time to kick back, relax and forget school for a while. But for Smith students in the Business Management Honors Fellows program, the Entrepreneurship Fellows program, the International Fellows program and the Global Opportunities Fellows program, winter term is the time to travel.

The Undergraduate Studies Office offers faculty-led winter-term study trips that allow students and faculty to visit locations as far-flung as Europe, China and Africa. The trips inspire interest and understanding of the world of global business and provide opportunities for action learning on a range of business topics through site visits, professional speakers, and cultural events and activities. They also build community among Smith students, faculty and staff, and advance international understanding and relationships.

DR. OLIVER SCHLAKE, CENTER, LED THE ENTREPRENEURSHIP FELLOWS ON A TOUR OF THE EUROPEAN UNION.Tyser Teaching Fellow Oliver Schlake led the Entrepreneurship Fellows students on a tour of the European Union, the highlight of which was a private tour of the union’s headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. Susan White, Distinguished Tyser Teaching Fellow, led the Honors students on a trip to Shanghai and Hong Kong, with field trips to the McCormick plant in Shanghai and to the Independent Council Against Corruption (ICAC) in Hong Kong, among other briefings and visits. The third trip offered was to Tunisia and was led by Ridha Krizi of the University of Maryland’s flagship program in Arabic studies. The Tunisia trip included a number of Smith student leaders, in addition to students in the International and Global Opportunities Fellows programs, QUEST and Business Honors.

AS PART OF AN OFF-ROADING ADVENTURE INTO REMOTE AREAS OF THE SAHARA DESERT, STUDENTS VISITED THE STILL-STANDING SET WHERE “STAR WARS” WASFeedback on the trips from students and faculty members alike has been positive across the board. “In my mind, one of the highlights of the Tunisia trip was off-roading through the Sahara desert. We were bouncing across sand dunes in Toyota Land Cruisers with professional drivers behind the wheel,” said junior Joel Liebman.

Another favorite experience was recalled by junior Laila Wardak: “My favorite part of the EU trip was visiting all the amazing historic sites in Belgium and Germany. I went inside castles, cathedrals and monuments that had been around since the 12th century. I was in complete awe of the craftsmanship put into all the details and incredible amount of symbolism in nearly every painting and sculpture,” said Wardak.

As would be expected, the trips also contained surprising elements for students. “I did not expect Tunisia to show such a strong European influence,” said freshman Kevin Kirk. “I was also surprised at the wide diversity in geographic landscapes included within a relatively small country.”

STUDENTS WORE HARD HATS FOR THEIR TOUR OF HYDRO ALUMINUM.The winter study trips were originally created for the Honors program students, because the curriculum is so demanding that these students were unable to participate in any study abroad experiences and still complete their program requirements. In previous years, the Honors students have traveled to Hong Kong and Shenzhen, China, to study comparative capital markets, and to Hawaii where they studied sustainable development.

A GROUP OF STUDENTS POSE IN AN HISTORIC DISTRICT IN BAVARIA, GERMANY.“What we found was that, in addition to providing a way to complete honors requirements, and enriching their academic studies by traveling abroad on these faculty-led study trips, these study trips greatly enhanced the sense of community in the honors program, and built lasting relationships among participating students, faculty and staff,” says Patricia Cleveland, associate dean of Undergraduate Programs.

THE BREATHTAKING SHANGHAI SKYLINE SERVED AS A BACKDROP FOR THIS PHOTO OF HONORS STUDENTS ON THE CHINA TRIP.DR. SUSAN WHITE IS PICTURED SECOND FROM LEFT.Students say they learn far more from traveling together and experiencing first-hand how business is done abroad than they ever could in the classroom alone. “The most important thing that I feel I gained from the China trip was not only a deeper respect for the challenges of doing business in a global setting, but also the camaraderie and personal relationships gained with fellow students. Getting a chance to meet other Business Honors students outside of a classroom setting has translated into better group dynamics and cooperation even after the trip has ended,” says junior Elaine Miu.

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