Instead of the beach, many IU students going global for spring break
Korea is a "hot spot" for business, journalism and liberal arts students
March 10, 2009
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Daytona. Vail. Seoul. Beijing. Normandy. Zagreb.
While the first two destinations may be familiar to many as spring break destinations, an increasing number of Indiana University students are opting for other international locales, where they often travel as part of classes.
Aakash Gupta and Luke Martineac last year outside a chopsticks shop.
"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., added, "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."
About 60 IU students are heading this weekend to South Korea with their professors as part of courses offered by the Liberal Arts and Management Program (LAMP), the IU School of Journalism and the Kelley School of Business.
Other journalism students are going to Japan for a course on international public relations and to Europe to retrace the steps of famed war correspondent Ernie Pyle. Other undergraduate students in the Kelley School will be going to China, Ghana and Croatia as part of a class on emerging economies. All together, the three programs are sending about 150 students abroad during spring break.
Greg Baumer with schoolchildren in Ghana
"The large goal for us is to change students' lives and to show them a world they've never seen before," said Brad Hamm, dean of the journalism school. "Countries that are advanced are always the ones that don't believe that every idea develops internally. They look around the world . . . Most of our classes don't travel, but for select ones, we believe that this adds so much to the experience."
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, has been preparing both the LAMP and the Kelley School students for travel to Korea. He noted that IU's interest in "the Land of the Morning Calm" has been everything but that. In addition to the three spring break trips, students in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs will be going there in May, around the same time as a second official IU delegation.
"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," Robinson said. "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."
Jaffee, who is teaching all 69 students in the emerging markets course, added, "A key aspect for the course is for them to see how these various countries are coping with and being affected by the global downturn . . . It is especially important in a country like Korea, whose basic growth is based on exports and high-knowledge tech-based activities."
In Korea, all the students will visit cultural sites, shrines and the Demilitarized Zone at the border with North Korea. Most also will visit factories and other corporate facilities, including those at Samsung and Hyundai. Journalism students will tour the nation's most influential newspaper and multimedia enterprises. Students also will have free time to work on projects.
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 it's practices," she said.
Many students are blogging about their adventures. Below are links to IU travel blogs:
- Kelley Goes to China: http://kelleychina2009.blogspot.com/
- Kelley Goes to Croatia: http://kelleycroatia2009.blogspot.com/
- Kelley Goes to Ghana: http://kelleyghana2009.blogspot.com/
- Kelley Goes to Korea: http://kelleykorea2009.blogspot.com/
- Links to School of Journalism trip blogs (active on Thursday, March 12): http://journalism.indiana.edu/news/four-groups-of-students-travel-for-spring-break-study/