Thursday, March 12, 2009

Instead of the beach, Kelley students go global

Daytona. Vail. Seoul.

While the first two destinations may be familiar to many as spring break destinations, a group of 15 students in Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business are opting for another international locale, South Korea.

The students, along with faculty and staff, depart for Seoul on Friday (March 13), as part of a class.

"Going to Miami would have been fun, but it's predictable," said Jasmin Foster, a sophomore in the Kelley School of Business from Indianapolis, who is heading to South Korea for 10 days.

"There are already millions of other college students hitting up a sandy beach for spring break. There will be fewer of us who will be able to say we went to a foreign country, and experienced a culture so different than ours. I love to be in the minority," Foster added.

Classmate Michael Anda, a junior in the Kelley School from Ridgefield, Conn., told me, "I chose to go on this trip to South Korea because I think it's a truly unique experience to travel to a place unlike any other I have been to before. To me, college is a time to take advantage of opportunities that will not exist after graduation, and this trip fits that description."

Bruce Jaffee, chairperson and professor of business economics and public policy, quipped, "It's really an experience for them and a long way to go for spring break."

Michael Robinson, IU professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures, says that "one of the things that have stoked student interest in Korea over the last decade has been an incredible wave of Korean popular culture that's entered into the Asian region and also into the U.S., particularly through movies … The other thing they connect Korea with is its high-tech, totally networked and connected society."

Korea leads the world in broadband connectivity and is a growing center for technological development worldwide. Robinson and Jaffee also noted that the classes have provided students with important context about the current global financial crisis.

"Korea has already gone through a very, very severe bubble breaking during the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98," Robinson explained, "where they saw their unemployment rate rise to more than 15 percent and GNP shrunk 6 percent ... Right now, it's looking like some of the best firms that came out of that crisis, now restructured, are doing some very creative things to get through this global recession."

In Korea, students will visit business and cultural sites, as well as the Demilitarized Zone at the border with North Korea.

Danielle Metcalf, a junior in the Kelley School from Bloomington, said she hopes to gain a better understanding of one of today's major players in the international economy but not just for business success.

"Nothing productive can emerge without correct interpretation of the country and its practices," she said.

Come along with us on the trip.

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