This spring break I, along with 14 other SDSU students, had the opportunity to spend a week studying business in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Fifteen students from different backgrounds, class levels, and majors brought together in a country none of us had ever visited. This is the first study abroad program of its kind at SDSU, and all of us agreed it was a great success.
It’s hard to capture an experience like this in a few simple paragraphs. There was a lot of laughter, a lot of pictures, a lot of inside jokes, and a lot of memories. We had the opportunity to explore another side of the hemisphere while learning about more than just the tourist attractions of the city.
Monday, March 29
Our group at Ketchum Argentina. (I'm on the far left.)
Today was our first official day of programming in Buenos Aires. First we heard from the CEO of Ketchum Argentina, a sector of one of the world’s most successful public relations firms. Public relations serves the same purpose in every country, making your company look good, but how you go about doing that all depends on the culture and people you are serving.
A representative from the American Chamber reiterated this theme by teaching us about business differences between Argentina and the United States, and we learned about some failing attempts certain U.S. companies had when trying to infiltrate the Latin American market. Our last stop of the day was at Norton Winery (they sell their unique Malbec wine at Costco), where we heard about the changing wine market, exporting globally, and then played games and toured the facility.
At night, a few of us headed to La Bomba, a drum show where many of the locals gather to hang out. It was definitely the best part of the trip so far. The intense energy and vibe of the music pumped us all up as we were immersed in the Argentinean culture. Each of us got an idea of what locals our age would normally do with friends. Here are a couple videos of the La Bomba show:
La Bomba Video #1 – http://twitc.com/Pz2vlJoy
La Bomba Video #2 – http://twitc.com/Pxr5ohPj
Tuesday, March 30
This morning we got the opportunity to tour Ford Argentina. We watched a car being built from start to finish and met some of the factory workers on the line. No doubt, it was probably the only time any of us will get to see the process up close.
We all ate together at the normal 10 p.m. Argentine dinner time. Steak in Argentina is ridiculously good and ridiculously reasonably priced, which is a pleasant escape from our normal college student food choices.
Wednesday, March 31
Our group at the Bimbo bakery.
Today we visited another factory, Bimbo bakery. Once again we got a tour of the factory and saw the product from start to finish. Our tour guide gave us some insight into advertising for Bimbo.
In Argentina, kids don’t eat cereal or Pop Tarts for breakfast; they have toast, so Bimbo’s cuddly bear icon is the perfect tool to help with their family-oriented marketing. They loaded our tables with muffins, crackers, and other products to try, then sent each of us home with a bag of more food. Free food for college students…definitely a win.
Later we visited one of Argentina’s premiere business schools and heard a lecture from a marketing professor. Many of the foundational business practices were complemented by Argentina’s unique styles and customs.
Thursday, April 1
Visiting a local home for low-income kids.
Today was by far the best experience of the trip. We visted a local home where over 300 low-income children come to eat every week.
We played games, made snacks, and spent a few hours getting to know the kids. Seeing the joy of these kids who had so little inspired all of us. Having the opportunity to wrap up a week of business-style meetings by getting our hands dirty and hanging out with kids was a priceless experience.
Even though only a few people in our group spoke Spanish, we had no trouble interacting despite the language barrier. The kids were happy to have someone to talk to, whether we knew what they were saying or not.
Our group at the Tango lesson.
Later on we headed to a local Tango show and received dance lessons. The Tango is Argentina’s claim to fame. The passion and energy of the dance is representative of the whole culture.
We weren’t the most talented group they’d seen, but hey, we gave it a try and learned a little something to bring back to the states. Check out my Tango video to see what it was like:
Tango Video – http://twitc.com/Psc6ikUo
Friday, April 2
Our final excursion was a visit to Tigre, an area just outside of the city on a delta that connects over 500 small islands. Boat taxis and buses help people get around to shopping, school, and home. We kayaked down the river to one of the islands. Let’s just say it was an experience…some of us fell in, some ran into stuff, some ran into more stuff, but in the end we all had a pretty good time.
~Desiree Roughton, Communications Student Assistant, Enrollment Services