Faculty-Led Program: Lunch and Learn

WORLD is now accepting proposals for the upcoming AY 2020/2021 Faculty-Led Study Abroad Programs.  Each year, WORLD invites faculty from all disciplines at Stetson University to step outside of the DeLand campus and explore the possibilities of teaching abroad. 

Last month, Wendy Viggiano, Program Coordinator for International Learning, hosted a Lunch and Learn webinar on leading faculty-led programs abroad. She covered topics such as program types, student considerations, working collaboratively with WORLD, benefits of working with a study abroad provider, and walked through the proposal process.  You can check out each topic in the short videos provided here as well as on our YouTube channel.  We hope these informative videos will clarify the proposal process and encourage faculty to submit proposals. 

Stetson University has seen an increase in faculty-led programs abroad and we hope to continue that trend next year.  Students are eager to study abroad and we look forward to offering students more programs in a variety of disciplines to meet the demands of our students.  No matter the subject or discipline, WORLD can find the right location abroad for your course.  How can a new place enhance your teaching and the student’s understanding of the topic? Feel you don’t have the time to make all the arrangements and organize all the logistics of the program? Not sure even where to begin?  No worries!  WORLD is here to help you every step of the way.

Start your Faculty-Led Study Abroad Proposal and we will help you take care of the rest!

General Study Abroad Information and Benefits of Faculty Led Programs
Types of Faculty Led Program and Things to Consider
Student Concerns: Cost and Curriculum
Working in Collaboration with WORLD and the Benefits of Providers
Faculty Led Proposal Process and Timeline

Stetson Students Participate in Internship with AIR Guatemala

 By Camila Morales Hernandez, ’20

(l-r) Students Sydney Arrington, Peter Greubel, and Matinicus C’Senger pose with AIR Guatemala founder and President (and Stetson Professor Emeritus, ), Dr. Anne Hallum in front of AIR’s Training Center

Over the summer, the Stetson students, Sydney Arrington, a Public Health major/Spanish minor, Peter Gruebel, also a Public Health major; and Matinicus C’Senger, double major in Economics and Philosophy and an Environmental Sustainability Fellow at Stetson, did a summer internship with AIR (Alliance for International Reforestation, Inc) Guatemala. During the experience, the students were able to work closely with local farmers to learn the practice of Regenerative Farming. The students also spoke Spanish during the entire time of the experience.

WHAT IS AIR GUATEMALA?

AIR is a non-profit organization improving human and environmental health in Guatemala.  With operations in Atlanta, Georgia and central Guatemala, AIR has trained over 4,000 farm families and planted almost 6 million native trees in Guatemala.  For over 25 years, AIR has implemented a community-based, five-year approach with great results and success.  AIR is a winner of the 2017 Equator Prize from the UN Environment Programme because of this successful model.  All salaried employees are local professionals, so ninety-two percent of funds and donations go straight to the field to implement projects and programs:  Rural school programs; tree nurseries; farmer training; and efficient, custom stoves.  AIR was founded in 1992 at Stetson University after Dr. Anne Hallum, Stetson University political professor, visited Guatemala for the first time and observed first hand the rural hunger and malnutrition, the barren mountainsides and mudslides, and the strength of the Maya people.

GOALS, PROCESS AND ACADEMIC PURSUITS:

Each year, one to three Stetson students are selected to participate in the AIR Guatemala internship program. All of their program expenses are covered by a generous endowment by Drs. David and Leighan Rinker. The main goal of the internship is for the student to provide tangible benefits to the local residents.  Likewise, the experience is designed to align with the academic pursuits of the students.  

Learning goals for the student interns include:

  • Discover the value and method for farming with trees (“Regenerative farming” aka “agroforestry”) for better anthropological and environmental well-being: The students planted trees where they brought the most benefit for the communities: Acatenango, Xibalbay, Paquixic, and Montellano. 
  • Learn  the effect of working with residents instead of for them. Residents requested help constructing efficient stoves from AIR Guatemala. Students constructed 3 stoves for two days, resulting in transformational lessons since they saw the living styles of the Mayan families, the hazards of breathing smoke all day, how close the families are and how fully their connection was to surrounding nature. 
  • Shadow the president of AIR Guatemala, Dr. Hallum. During the second week, a large group of volunteers arrived from Florida and Georgia, and all three Stetson students were enormously effective in welcoming these volunteers and showing them what they had learned the first week. Dr. Hallum also had all three students accompany her on important meetings with the AIR staff.  The interns were especially helpful in an unforeseen way: Dr. Hallum was prefacing a network technology of registering via GPS the exact location where each tree was planted, and then “selling” the planted trees to a company in Hong Kong for purpose of combating climate change. The staff—and Dr. Hallum—had to learn how to use this technology and naturally, the Stetson students were very comfortable with this fascinating technology and taught the staff the functions of it. 
  • Learning about the Mayan and Ladino cultures in Guatemala. An overarching goal is that students learned about the regional cultures while planting trees and building stoves in rural communities. For instance, one day, the women of the communities brought lunch in the field where the students were planting trees —they carried tortillas and hot soup in containers on their heads. The team also participated in two school programs with Mayan dances which the class students had prepared especially for AIR visitors.

FOOTPRINT LEFT IN GUATEMALA

The three students supported the construction of three fuel-efficient stoves which involved mixing cement, soaking and laying bricks—each stove required six-hours of work. The stoves have a chimney to ventilate smoke and prevent lung diseases; they also help to conserve trees.

Sydney Arrington helps build a stove for local residents.

The volunteers this summer—including the three students—planted approximately 2,000 trees. The trees were strategically located to prevent soil erosion and improve crops with nitrogen-fixing roots; prevent mudslides, and to protect water sources. As previously mentioned, the students taught AIR staff members and Dr. Hallum how to use the technology for photographing and syncing each tree. By the end of the two weeks, the team had registered and sold 886 trees to a company in Hong Kong.

Peter Gruebel plants trees in Guatemala

 The three students also participated in two rural school programs—helping to judge environmental contests and playing with children.

THE ADVENTURE DOES NOT STOP THERE!!

Apply to join this journey and work with Guatemalan communities in Summer 2020!!!  Applications are due by February 1, 2020.

This article was written based on Dr. Anne Hallum’s annual Air Guatemala report.

Enrollment in Scottish Experience up 37%

Student enrollment peaked during the fourth annual study abroad Scottish Experience, a collaborative of the University of the Highlands Islands Inverness College, Stetson University, Utah Valley University, and Jacksonville University. A total of 33 students participated in courses taughted by faculty from UVU, Jacksonville, and Stetson.

A centerpiece of the study abroad program is an embedded case study component where groups of students act as consultants to Scottish businesses and organizations to address an issue of pressing need.

Students and faculty take a quick break after presenting the outcomes of their case studies to business and organizational leaders.

Stetson’s Inaugural International Faculty Development Seminar Draws Diverse Disciplines to the Dominican Republic

A total of 10 Stetson University faculty and the WORLD Team descended on Santo Domingo during May 13-18, 2019 to learn how to better prepare students to learn abroad. Faculty hailed from business, education, humanities, social and natural sciences.

The seminar comprised classroom sessions on topics ranging from risk management and internationalization to curriculum integration and course assessment. Field trips to heritage locations and natural landscapes, such as the old colonial sugar mills and Three Eyes National Park, helped faculty consider the role of “place” in course design as well as how to balance high and low intensity learning experiences for students.

Los Tres Ojos (Three Eyes National Park) is a 50-yard open-air limestone cave located in eastern Santo Domingo.

Response to the seminar has been quite positive.

I feel so fortunate to be part of the journey we were on together. I feel that our relationship went to the next level…The moment we started together and ended pleasantly, it was a lesson in every moment and I am confident that this training will be helpful for all in launching our faculty led programs in future.”

Yes, echoing my colleagues for a wonderful opportunity and collegiality. Thank you WORLD and thank you everyone who participated 😍”

Thank you all for such a unique and valuable experience in DR. I would be happy to meet for regular lunches sharing ideas about the next steps in organizing faculty-led study abroad trips. Special thanks to the WORLD. You are a great team of professionals!🤗”

I’m continually amazed at and proud to be a part of Stetson’s wonderful community.”

More images

About the Stetson International Faculty Development Seminar

The IFDS program at Stetson University honors the longstanding commitment and dedication of Drs. David and Leighan Rinker to international learning. The centerpiece of the faculty development program is an immersive five-day experience where Stetson faculty participate in study abroad. The overarching goals are to equip Stetson teacher-scholars with best practice strategies for how to use location to deepen content, elevate student engagement and intercultural learning, develop safe, compliant and academically-rich study abroad programs, and promote Stetson’s value of global citizenship.

WORLD partnered with CIEE to co-offer the seminar. CIEE is a premier provider with significant expertise developing and implementing international faculty development seminars and study abroad experiences for students,. Contact world@stetson.edu for more information.

Highland Adventures

Inverness, Scotland

As Robert Burns, regarded as the national poet of Scotland, so eloquently wrote: “Wherever I wander, wherever I rove, the hills of the Highlands forever I love.”


Ample camaraderie is evident among students and faculty during Stetson’s Summer Scotland, with the Urquhart Castle in the background. Students who participate in the summer program earn four credits upon completion.

The endearing qualities of Scotland have inspired many a writer and poet over the years. Travelers from every corner of the globe also have been enchanted by Scotland’s beauty, typically describing it as “mystical” and “awe-inspiring.” 

For Stetson students, a study-abroad program, now going into its fourth year, is providing them with the opportunity to experience that splendor firsthand in Inverness, a city in the Scottish Highlands and the northernmost city of the United Kingdom. 

“I had never traveled outside the country before, so it was suggested that Scotland would be a good first study-abroad experience. It was a life-changing experience, and I caught the travel bug after that,” said Caylyn Gunby ’19, a double-major in international studies and world languages and cultures whoparticipated in the program in the summer of 2016. Gunby added she since has participated in two additional study-abroad programs in Austria and Thailand, plus an internship in France.

Such a trip has that kind of impact. 

Summer Scotland is centered at The University of the Highlands and Islands – Inverness College

The Inverness program, called Summer Scotland, is a multi-university, faculty-led consortium including professors from Stetson, Jacksonville University and Utah Valley University, all congregating at The University of the Highlands and Islands – Inverness College to teach students management and marketing as they relate to the international community. With approximately 8,500 students, Inverness College is the main campus for The University of the Highlands and Islands. 

The program occurs three or four weeks over summers. Summer Scotland 2019 is set for May 28-June 27. 

“Five years ago, we got together with Jacksonville University and suggested Scotland as a great place for a study-abroad program,” cited Paula Hentz, director of international learning at WORLD: The David and Leighan Rinker Center for International Learning at Stetson. “We wanted to build something that included best practices and incorporated case-study projects with local Scottish businesses. Utah Valley University and Inverness College joined the consortium, and it has turned out to be really beneficial for students.” 

As part of case-study projects, students work with local companies on real-world business issues. 

As part of these case-study projects, students are paired with local businesses (five students per company) and work on real-world business issues. They apply their coursework and offer solutions to actual problems to help the businesses, presenting a final report at the end of the project. 

Group projects vary based on the current business needs. In the past, companies have included WOW! Scotland (a travel company); a fashion designer who has designed items for the Queen; Robertson Construction; Walker (an international shortbread company); local craft breweries; a Highland bakery that provided baked goods for the 2012 London Olympics; local social enterprises that support youth; and Cobb (a hotel company). 

“This represents an incredible opportunity for students to not only get real-world experience but also real-world international business experience — learning how to do business in another country with another culture. It’s a great challenge for them,” Hentz added. 

In 2016, Gunby and her team worked with Café Artysans, a social-enterprise café in Inverness that uses some of its profits to help homeless Scottish youth. 

“We helped with advertising, met with the director and talked about growth and international outreach,” Gundy said. “We focused on social-media coverage and how to better reach out to Americans.” 

Carol Azab, Ph.D., assistant professor of marketing in the School of Business Administration, teaches, lectures and represents Stetson on the program.

Students who participate in the program are offered a choice between two courses — Global Marketing: Business Without Borders and Principles of Management — and earn four credits upon completion. The course counts as an elective for nonbusiness students. 

“These study-abroad programs teach students about international business and how countries operate and do business differently because of cultural nuances,” said Carol Azab, Ph.D., assistant professor of marketing in the School of Business Administration, who teaches, lectures and represents Stetson on the trips. “In Scotland, people are more laid-back than we are when it comes to their business culture. And it’s important for students to be able to adapt to whatever company they’re working for, wherever that may be. 

“When I see students presenting at the end of the program, I feel so proud. Their marketing proposals and plans get praise from these companies, and they’ve resulted in direct changes and improvements made in many of the businesses. It’s a life-changing experience for these students, who come back more enlightened and also improve academically.” 

Students start some coursework online prior to their arrival in Inverness. Once there, they have regular class time, Monday through Friday, and also interact with advisers to work on their case studies. Additionally, they hear local guest lecturers talk about topics such as the effects of Brexit (the U.K. leaving the European Union), the general business environment and business practices in Scotland. Students have the option to stay in the dormitories at Inverness College or with a Scottish host family. 

Further, there is cultural immersion. Among the highlights is a guided tour of the Isle of Skye, the largest and most northerly large island in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. 

“It was stunning,” Gunby recalled. “We actually went to Fairy Pools [on the River Brittle in the Isle of Skye].” 

As part of their study (and adventure), students investigate the legend of Loch Ness, the deepest lake in the United Kingdom. 

Other excursions include visits to Loch Ness, the deepest lake in the United Kingdom and where students can take a boat tour and hear stories about the Loch Ness Monster; Urquhart Castle, one of Scotland’s most iconic castles on the banks of Loch Ness; the Quiraing, a landslip on the eastern face of Meall na Suiramach, the northernmost summit of the Trotternish on the Isle of Skye; and Edinburgh, the ancient capital city of Scotland. 

Also, this past summer students participated in mini-Highland Games, so they could try some of the activities. Previously, they had watched the actual Highland Games. “We learned about Scottish food, music, sports, folklore and even got to hear Gaelic from the local Highlanders,” noted Gunby. 

“We want students to step out of their comfort zones,” Azab said, simply. 

“It’s a chance to build intentional opportunities for students to meet local people,” Hentz affirmed. “Everything we do there is geared toward giving our students the most immersive cultural experience possible.” 

For Gunby, who missed not having black pudding and sausage when she got back to the States, her Scotland experience opened many doors and widened her eyes. And she will never forget the Scottish people, while she also became close with other Stetson students who participated in the program. 

“They’re so friendly and much more laid-back then we are,” she said about the Scottish. “People understand how to enjoy life there, and that taught me something about how to live my life.” 

When Gunby graduates this spring, she plans on teaching English abroad, as a gap year, then attending grad school to get a master’s degree in international affairs or global development.

The study-abroad effect is transformative. 

“I believe in student learning and stepping out into the world as a life-changing experience,” Azab concluded. “Helping students realize this is very rewarding to me. In the end, we’re celebrating differences, and this is a beautiful thing and a great lesson for these students to learn.” 

-Jack Roth

Online at Stetson Today March 27, 2019

Sprouting Growth


Through the Alliance for International Reforestation Inc. and Stetson, students are planting seeds for learning in Central America.

Since the year 2000, the Alliance for International Reforestation Inc. (AIR) has enjoyed a strong partnership with David and Leighan Rinker, longtime ardent Stetson benefactors, in offering transformational service experiences for Stetson students in Central America.

The partnership actually began when in 1999 David Rinker offered to support student trips with Anne Hallum, Ph.D., a Stetson political science professor and founder of AIR, through the Marshall E. Rinker Sr. Foundation. David Rinker had learned of Hallum’s early experiences working in Guatemala — training farmers in sustainable agriculture and other services — and he wanted students to benefit as well.

Through the years, both literally and figuratively, it’s been quite a journey.

Today, selected students — based on grades, a reflective essay and an interview — participate in three primary programs, along with academic assignments, over a period of four to six weeks. The word participate is used loosely.

Students build stoves with Mayan families and the AIR staff; they are actively engage at rural schools; they plant fast-growing trees on deforested slopes; and they maintain a journal of reflections on friendships made and lessons learned.


Camaraderie with locals is part of the AIR experience for students.

Over the years, for example, more than 100 stoves have been constructed — involving cement mixing and brick laying — to help prevent lung disease and conserve precious trees. Meanwhile, more than 45,000 fast-growing trees have been planted —up to 4,000 trees each month by hand on mountains — to improve crops and prevent mudslides.

The trips, clearly, aren’t vacations, except for the Saturday “tourist days.”

Last summer, in addition to building and planting, a student with a special interest in marketing shadowed Hallum to learn the nuances of fundraising and donor relations.

The travel expenses for each of those students, as well as for Hallum, are covered by the Marshall E. Rinker Sr. grant (with some funds from Latin American Studies when more students traveled). Those annual grants total approximately $9,000 each June, which cover hotels, food, ground transportation, small stipends and continual supervision by the AIR staff members.

For the students, the payoffs have been significant.

A first-year student was taught the “sheer joy” of an exhausting day of service (especially outdoors). An impressionable 19-year-old who spent six weeks with AIR in Guatemala now is an accomplished alumnus. More generally, AIR has impacted how student view the world.


Thanks to charitable funding and Anne Hallum, Ph.D., a former political science professor at Stetson, students continue to participate in uncommon immersion abroad.

Until June 2012, Hallum taught full-time at Stetson and managed AIR’s early growth in Nicaragua and Guatemala. She was able to combine the service work in rural Guatemala and Nicaragua with her own academic research, and to find ways for students to earn academic credits in independent studies such as immersion Spanish, environmental activism, Latin American studies: Mayan Culture, and religion and the environment.

Hallum left Stetson in 2012, moving to Atlanta to work full-time (non-salaried) as president of AIR-Guatemala. Yet, even today, by virtue of her personal ties to the university and the Rinker support, she continues to exclusively host Stetson students for lengthy immersion experiences.
Not coincidentally, in 2017 AIR Guatemala received its second recognition from the United Nations, as a winner of the 2017 Equator Prize, presented by the United Nations Development Programme.

As a result, a reforestation organization founded on the third floor of Elizabeth Hall at Stetson more than 25 years ago now is globally acclaimed. Even greater, it continues to provide uncommon experiences of growth for Stetson students.

-Michael Candelaria

Originally posted at Stetson Today on February 25, 2019

Board of Trustees Presentation: International Learning

by Camilla Morales, ‘20

Part of Stetson’s University mission is to promote Global Citizenship by students in order to prepare informed, active, and engaged citizens. On February 14, 2019, I was given the opportunity along with my colleagues, Zoe Weaver, ‘19 and Genicelle Barrington, ‘21, to present our efforts as WORLD Ambassadors to the Academic Affairs Committee of Stetson’s Board of Trustees and along with other faculty and staff members.


The session was opened by Dr. Rosalie A. Richards, associate provost for Faculty Development and professor of chemistry and education, who provided an overview of international learning at Stetson. Board members were then invited to participate in an interactive session, where they visited stations to learn about different aspects of international learning.

There were five different stations: WORLD: The David and Leighan Rinker Center of International Learning at the Deland campus, the Office of International and Graduate Programs at the College of Law in Gulfport, the International Learning Committee, the Latin American & Latino Studies Program, and Student Engagement.

Dejan Magoc, Ph.D. , associate professor of health sciences and chair of the International Learning Committee, describes how Stetson University uses the ACE Comprehensive  Internationalization model to advance global competencies.

Paula Hentz, M.Ed, director of international learning (right), showcases several new WORLD initiatives.

JR Swanegan, J.D., assistant dean of international and graduate studies (left), highlights different consortia developed by the College of Law to advance international learning to Board members including David Rinker, Ph.D., longstanding Trustee and benefactor of WORLD (back).

Robert Sitler, Ph.D., professor of world languages and cultures (Spanish) and program coordinator for the Latin American & Latino Studies Program, provides an overview of the program and highlights from the Mentored Field Experience. 

My colleagues and I presented at the Student Engagement station and spoke about our roles as WORLD Ambassadors and about our engagement in building global citizenship via international learning. We spoke about several events that we host to promote community engagement, diversity, inclusion and cultural awareness.

Morales (left) and Barrington (left, white shirt) listen as Weaver (center) discusses study abroad with Board members and senior academic leaders.

The interactive session was followed by a panel discussion where members of the Board were able to ask questions to the presenters.

I must say I was very honored to have been asked by my boss, Paula Hentz, director of international learning, to be part of this event along with my colleagues. To be able to talk about a subject I am so passionate about was a great and unique experience. I am eager to see what efforts will be done to keep promoting internationalization at Stetson University.

Adapted from the original story posted on LinkedIn on February 19, 2019

How Study Abroad contributes to Career Readiness: 8 Studies

International experience used to be a “nice-to-have” criterion in a graduate’s resume. Today, it has become one of the most important components of a 21st century education. Many new studies show a direct impact of study abroad on creativity, cognitive ability, and student success. In addition, studies show that study abroad plays an important role in developing a global mindset and skills necessary to succeed in the workforce. Below are studies showing the value employers place on international experience and whether a graduate’s career prospects actually improve as a result of this experience.

Career Success

The Erasmus Impact Study: Effects of Mobility on the Skills and Employability of Students and the Internationalisation of Higher Education Institutions
This independent study prepared for the European Commission finds that internationally mobile students have better chances of finding a job after graduation. Their unemployment rate five years after graduation is lower than non-mobile students. Results show that around 65 percent of employers consider international experience important for recruitment, and over 90 percent are looking for transversal skills enhanced by study abroad, such as openness and curiosity about new challenges, problem-solving, and decision-making skills.

Gone International: Mobile Students and Their Outcomes; Report on the 2012/13 Graduating Cohort
This UK Higher Education International Unit report finds that graduates who had studied, worked, or volunteered abroad were more likely to be employed within six months of graduation. The data also shows a significantly lower proportion of graduates from disadvantaged backgrounds who were mobile were unemployed compared with those from the same backgrounds who were not mobile. Graduates with international study experience earned more, on average, than other graduates.

Recent Graduates Survey: The Impact of Studying Abroad on Recent College Graduates’ Careers
The IES Abroad Recent Graduate Study shows that study abroad alumni find jobs sooner after graduation, related to their majors, and at a higher starting salary. Study abroad students also have better graduate and professional school acceptance rates. Ninety-seven percent of alumni secured a job within one year after graduation, compared to 49 percent in the general college graduate population.

Career Readiness

Expanding Opportunity by Opening Your Mind: Multicultural Engagement Predicts Job Offers Through Longitudinal Increases in Integrative Complexity. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 5(5), 608-615
This study by Maddux et al. shows that the extent to which students adapted to and learned about new cultures (multicultural engagement) during a highly international 10-month master of business administration program predicted the number of job offers students received after the program, even when controlling for important personality and demographic variables.

GLOSSARI – Georgia Learning Outcomes of Students Studying Abroad Research
An assessment by the University System of Georgia found that students who studied abroad had a 17.8-percent higher 4-year graduation rate than those who did not study abroad, particularly among underrepresented minority and low income students.

Employer Perspective

The Outcomes of Outbound Student Mobility
This summary of academic literature over a 50-year period by AIM Overseas shows that over 60 percent of employers agree that an overseas study experience is a positive on a résumé. Additionally, 72 percent of employers agree that knowing a second language adds to the appeal of a prospective employee.

How Employers Value an International Study Experience
Based on responses from 10,000 recruiters worldwide, this QS Global Employer Report found that employers are looking for the skills and experience gained through the overseas study experience when hiring graduates.

Faktaa – Facts and Figures: Hidden Competencies
Prior studies mention that employers value international experience. This study by CIMO and Demos Helsinki concludes that employers recognize only those skills that are traditionally linked to international experience like tolerance, language skills and cultural knowledge. A substantial number of skills that are also linked to mobility were not visible to employers. The study concludes that young people need more guidance in making competencies such as productivity, resilience and curiosity gained from their international experiences more visible.

Posted at IIE.org.

This post was originally published in the fall 2015 edition of IIENetworker magazine, “The Impact of International Education.” This issue analyzes distinct aims of international education and discusses ways to improve how we measure its success.

A Once In a Lifetime Educational Experience

My junior year abroad, as part of Stetson University’s program in Freiburg, Germany, will always mark one of the best years of my life.


I was in Berlin in  November 1989 with my fellow Stetson classmates, just days before the Berlin Wall fell and German reunification took place.  Also, the German national soccer team won the World Cup in 1990, where I attended two of the team’s games in Milan, Italy.  However, the highlight of my stay in Germany was taking a glider plane ride over the majestic Black Forest.

Located in the southwestern corner of Germany bordering Switzerland and France in the Black Forest, Freiburg boasts something that no other German city has – the most sun days per year in Germany. The city’s history, which dates back to the 11th century, is evident in its historic buildings, narrow cobblestone streets and of course, Muenster (Cathedral).

It was not until I arrived in Freiburg that I found that of the roughly 300,000 inhabitants, more than 100,000 were students at “The Uni”, the name its students affectionately refer to Albert-Ludwigs-Universitaet Freiburg. Yet, I feel the advantage Freiburg has over any large university in the US is its global reach and cultural diversity in attracting international students from 120 nations due to its geographical location and top-notch academics. In 2012, Freiburg Universitaet was ranked the best German university.

The best thing that the Freiburg program taught me was to have a real dialogue on different cultural and political ideas with Germans, Iranians, Turks, etc., while at the same time being the best ambassador I could for my country in educating students from other nations about the equality, individualism and private free enterprise that makes the US truly great.

Surprising to me was that my German major played more of a role than my political science major in landing my first job with a German commodities company in Manhattan in 1991. With this global corporation, Ruhrkohle Trading, I travelled the world continuing to build on the lessons I learned at Freiburg Universitaet in respecting other viewpoints and cultures. This greatly assisted in my successfully negotiating with foreign cultures across the globe, Brazil, China, Japan, South Africa, etc. in the trade of seaborne cargoes of natural resources.

I have worked for three companies, Ruhrkohle Trading, Evolution Markets and Wood Mackenzie, for 12 years in Manhattan as well as three years for a subsidiary of ArcelorMittal in Baltimore. The remainder of my career has been spent in home-based trading or advisory commodities businesses for global financial firms.

It is my belief that every student should take advantage of a semester or year abroad as part of their tertiary education in order to gain better linguistic skills and more importantly, a better understanding of foreign cultures and how other countries operate. Stetson University offers the best foreign exchange program available in unlocking this invaluable educational experience – Freiburg.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Markus Bates grew up in Darien, Conn. and earned a bachelor of arts degree in political science and German from Stetson University in 1991.

After earning his degree at Stetson University, Markus distinguished himself by leading operations for trading companies that resulted in becoming the largest exporter of steel raw materials from China for close to a decade. Overall, he has held senior executive positions in the trade of global commodities for 13 years. In 2011, he attained an ongoing education graduate degree in accounting from Sacred Heart University.

Today, Markus lives in Ridgefield, Conn. with his 13-year-old son and runs his own management consulting firm. He enjoys coaching youth sports, skiing and swimming.