College of Business: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Important Site Links

Honors Class 2014 Trip to Brazil


1/19/2012


The 14's trip last summer took them down to Brazil to spend some time in the 7th largest economy in the world. After preparing for the trip the entire second semester, the 14's flew down on May 15th and then spent 5 days in Sao Paulo, a weekend in Paraty, and 4 days in Rio de Janeiro. For some, it was their first time out of the country, for many it was their first time in South America, and for all it was a great opportunity to learn more about an increasingly global business world.

The days in Sao Paulo, the financial capital of Brazil, were full of company visits, new experiences, and an enhanced understanding of Brazilian culture. The 14's spent time talking with leaders at companies like the BM&F Bovespa, FIESP, Caterpillar, KPMG, and IPE, even attending a few lectures on the Brazilian economy at the University of Sao Paulo. Getting to see first hand how the U.S. was viewed by other countries was a real learning experience, as was gaining an understanding of how the Brazilian economy had grown on the back of the C-class and was so supportive of ethanol. Further, the 14's also gained some insight into the cultural differences that affect the business world, some large and some more subtle. Santhosh Nandhan, a 14, points out that, “The company visit to Caterpillar was a clear indicator of Brazilian business procedures. The presenters spoke directly at the deans when answering students "questions." Insights like that have helped this class of honors students gain a greater under-standing of how important it is to be aware of those differences when transacting business globally. Along with the company visits, Sao Paulo provided some opportunities for fun as well. From watching a Santos soccer game and seeing one of the future stars of the Brazilian soccer team to getting to bust a move at a local Samba bar, there were plenty of opportunities for the 14's to immerse themselves in Brazilian culture and gain a true international experience.

The weekend in Paraty was a very relaxing two days. The 14's got the opportunity to experience a quieter side of Brazil in a town where everything was within walking distance. These two days contained perhaps the two most popular moments on the trip: a boat tour of Paraty on Saturday and a jeep tour on Sun-day. Saturday was a gorgeous day, and getting to tour the ocean under a clear blue sky was a wonderful experience. There were opportunities to jump off the boat and swim with fish, a chance to swim over to an island and hang out on the beach, and plenty of time to simply relax and enjoy the moment. The jeep tour the next day had a little more action. After driving through the forest, the 14's were able to slide down a waterfall, swing off a rope into the river, and enjoy some of the scenery in Brazil. Overall the weekend was a great opportunity for the 14's to grow as a group and to bond through shared experiences. The end of the weekend marked the beginning of the group's time in Rio de Janeiro. The company visits were the center of this part of the trip, as the 14's spent time at Petrobras, BIENDES, the American Chamber of Commerce, and the University of Rio de Janeiro. Perhaps the most influential aspect of the trip was a tour of the favelas in Rio, where the 14's gained a new perspective on living in Brazil and on their own lives here in America. McKennon Biers said it best, “Seeing how all of those people lived really makes me think about how lucky I am to have everything that I do. It really causes a person to be grateful for all our blessings.” There were lighter moments in Rio as well, like when the 14's visited Christ the Redeemer and when they got to see the view from Sugarloaf Mountain. The 14's also got to spend some time on the beaches of Rio, a very relaxing experience and a fitting way to end the trip as it gave them an opportunity to reflect on their experiences before going back to their summers.

Overall, the trip was a wonderful experience for the 14's and really a great opportunity to learn about global business, about life outside the U.S., and also about each other. For many, it was a huge factor in their decision to study abroad in the future. Others learned more about possible career choices and gained a new-found interest in international business. Ultimately, everyone came away from the trip having grown from the experience, and there was unanimous agreement that the trip was, in the words of Dean Hedeman, “FANTASTIC!”

Original story with photos is found in the Fall issue of the Business Honors Alumni Newsletter.

 

 

UIUC College of Business