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