Cal Poly’s Orfalea College of Business led two student groups on international trips abroad during spring break. The excursions are part of the college’s push toward making international experience a key part of its career-readiness initiatives.
Information systems Professor Barry Floyd led a cohort of 22 students on the college’s first official trip to Cuba. Throughout the week-long journey, students visited with business leaders in a variety of business sectors, including agriculture and art. Students attended a discussion on U.S./Cuban Relations lead by Paul Rodriguez from the University of Havana as well as a round-table discussion with Ricardo Torres, a macro-economist at the University of Havana, about the changing forces of Cuba’s economic structure. The group also took time for cultural immersion, from touring historical sites including Cuba’s most famous landscape, Valle de Vinales, to taking a salsa dance class. The trip coincided with President Obama’s visit to the nation as diplomatic relationships with the Unites States begin to ease. Director of Student Services Amy Carter and Advisor Katelyn O’Brien also led the trip with Professor Floyd.
At the same time, industrial technology and packaging Professors Ahmed Deif and Javier de la Fuente took a class of Cal Poly students to Florianoplois, Brazil. The excursion was part of BUS 304: Doing Business in Brazil, a course that looked closely at supply chains in the South American nation. Throughout winter quarter, 21 students studied different industries in the region; the trip allowed students to then visit major players in the supply chain in telecommunications, agriculture and healthcare. Students also embraced Brazilian culture on the tour by visiting an indigenous tribe and learning the samba with a local instructor.
These trips allowed students the opportunity to “learn by going” and see how the concepts they learned in class applied to the real world. The students not only saw how the local businesses were run, but they also got to immerse themselves in the local culture and hear from local business experts. As they toured historic landmarks and interacted with the locals, students were provided with the opportunity to learn and experience different cultures.
As the students return back to Cal Poly, they will carry with them the lessons they learned about business and local culture that will no doubt help them as they continue to pursue their degree and a career in business.