In May 2016, Kent directed the program, Business Practices and Culture – The U.K., France, Belgium, The Netherlands and Spain. With 13 students, Kent traveled to London, Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and Madrid. In preparation for their program, students used the Geert Hofstede Cultural Compass Survey to highlight the many cultural differences students would encounter during their travels. Students compared and contrasted how their individual results related to the countries on the program, and it provided rich discussion about moving from ethnocentrism to ethnorelativism. In addition to students’ cultural research, Kent prepared students by assigning research projects based on country characteristics, companies to be visited, and cultural icons of significance.
Students reported that their most valuable cultural learning was in the form of business culture. Kent’s Study Away program provided a unique opportunity to learn about business culture in Europe – an opportunity that students would not have been able to plan on their own. Kent planned six business visits where students, in professional attire, met and interacted with successful business professionals in the host countries. The business visits included Lloyd’s of London, presentations by a partner and her staff at PricewaterhouseCoopers in London, a presentation and reception hosted by two partners at Ernst and Young in Paris, and a presentation, VIP tour, and lunch hosted by the Director of Global Audit and his staff at Heineken Headquarters in Amsterdam.
In addition to the business visits, Kent planned cultural events for students as a means of understanding the culture of each country. Sites included: Buckingham Palace where some students captured video of Queen Elizabeth in her royal coach processing to open Parliament, Stonehenge, The Louvre, The Eiffel Tower, Versailles, an Amsterdam canal cruise, Anne Frank House, Madrid’s Royal Palace, and Toledo.
Kent’s investment of time on behalf of students is a strong contribution to Missouri State’s Public Affairs Mission. Congratulations, Kent!