CBA494/GBA694 Short-term study abroad Fall 2022

Published February 20, 2023

From January 9th to 18th 2023, a group of eight (five undergraduate and three MBA) CSULB students lead by Dr. Hieu Nguyen (Marketing) visited Panama City (Panama) and Medellin (Colombia) as part of the CBA494/GBA694 course in the Fall 2022 semester. This course gave students an opportunity to gather in-depth knowledge about the logistics and financial services industries in Panama as well as initiatives in innovation, sustainability, and social transformations in Medellin, formerly known as the world’s drug trafficking capital.

Students toured the facilities and attended presentations by business executives from large multinational corporations as well as medium-sized local businesses to learn about the challenges and opportunities in both countries, considered two of the most dynamic economies in Latin America. The group also visited the Emberá tribal village outside of Panama City to learn about their customs and traditions, how they use modern technology to improve their quality of life and promote more awareness. Students happily participated in tribal dances and enjoyed a delicious meal cooked by their hosts.

In Medellin, the group got to experience first-hand how residents of Comuna 13, a neighborhood deemed as the most dangerous commune in the world’s most dangerous city over two decades ago are transforming their community to be a center of art, small business, tourism and education, an example for similar communities in Medellin, Colombia, and Latin America. Additionally, the group also visited and shared business ideas with Proyecto Florecer, a non-profit that empowers young women in Medellin and Latin America by providing food security and skills that help them find employment and income. Gaby Armenta, an MBA student in the class, shared her thoughts: “As an MBA student, it was fulfilling to be able to share my expertise with the leaders of the organization who are looking to overcome their financial challenges, as well as looking into insightful thoughts to keep growing the organization.”

Reflecting on the trip, undergraduate international business (IB) major Victor Ramirez wrote: “This was the first time I got to explore and view my native countries from another lens. It was truly enriching getting to learn more about socioeconomic situations and experiencing its culture firsthand.” Emma Lyall, a graduating IB major, stated: “These countries were beautiful and had so much to offer, and I know that if students were to go on this trip in the future, it would be unforgettable for them too.”

From the perspectives of working professionals, the trip provided an opportunity to connect the knowledge learned in the course to on-site observations. Ivan Flores Capistran, a graduating MBA student, reflected: “I appreciated the variety of organizations we visited, ranging from a large multinational, a startup, an incubator, a hotel and a nonprofit NGO. Most important for me was seeing in real time many of the concepts and circumstances discussed and studied in class.”

Participating in short-term study tours like this is a valuable opportunity for students to learn about business practices in foreign countries as well as social and cultural differences that present opportunities as well as challenges for doing business in those countries. Every year the College of Business offers these courses and students of all majors (both undergraduate and graduate levels) are encouraged to enroll!