Over spring break, a group of 30 students and faculty traveled to South Africa to study abroad. Richards College of Business (RCOB) hosted the trip that allowed students to receive credit for International Marketing and Management.
During the trip they explored popular monuments, experienced the culture and visited businesses in the historic city Cape Town. Perspectives were influenced with the knowledge and inspiration that they received from people in top level management of various companies that they visited.
KaRa Lyn Thompson, a senior majoring in Business Management, saw the trip as a good opportunity to travel to Africa. Her love for traveling and learning more about different parts of the world helped encourage her to apply. During the trip, she gained a lot of fun memories while exploring Cape Town.
“I think my best memory was one thing that actually wasn’t planned on our itinerary,” said Thompson. “One of the nights we were there, there happened to be a jazz festival in the square that our hotel overlooked. Hundreds of people came to the festival of all different backgrounds.”
The purpose for the trip was for students to learn and see the business aspect on an international level. They visited trade organizations, social enterprises, and even a winery which is a large industry for South Africa.
“I learned a lot about South Africa’s history and complexity when it came to racial relations and classes in society, which truly has an impact on business,” said Thompson. “I also learned a lot about water conservation since Cape Town is predicted to be one of the first cities that will face major water distribution issues.”
When it comes to traveling, most people do research to get an idea of what to expect. Thompson explained that the professors who lead the RCOB programs do a great job preparing documents with information about the place they are traveling to. However, research never fully compares to the physical experience of traveling to another country. Thompson was still caught off guard and shocked during moments of exploring the country even with all the provided information.
“A very different aspect of our trip that was shocking was seeing children play next to the highway outside of the townships, protected by no wall or fence or anything,” said Thompson.
A group of students and faculty, including Thompson, visited the township of Khayelitsha where they had the opportunity to have dinner and conversations with families about their different perspectives and expectations.
“It really helped to understand the dynamics that the government and society at large has to deal with,” said Thompson about the visit to Khayelitsha.
Overall Thompson found the trip to be an amazing experience for such a short amount of time.
“Although the trip was different from the others I have been on, I found that the business and cultural visits helped to make the experience very impactful,” said Thompson, “I think the program was very well organized and executed; I personally found it to be a wonderful experience.”