Professors get up-close look at South American businesses, economy and culture.

Classroom teaching comes alive when a professor has rich experiences and insight to share with students.

Fifteen professors from business schools across the country greatly expanded their understanding of South America’s economy and culture during the 14th Annual Faculty Development in International Business Mercosur Program.

“This was a fantastic trip, a chance to talk with business leaders and educators in Brazil, Argentina and Chile,” said Xiaoquan Jiang, who teaches finance courses in the College of Business Administration at Florida International University (FIU). “Plus, because FIU has many students from South America, I appreciated learning more about their culture.”

Metropolitan Design Center, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Metropolitan Design Center, Buenos Aires, Argentina

As always, the Mercosur trip was organized by FIU’s Center for International Business Education and Research (FIU-CIBER). Planned by FIU-CIBER director Mary Ann Von Glinow and assistant director Sonia Verdu, the 12-day trip in May 2010 included visits to a wide range of businesses, industries and universities.

“Participants explored how Brazil, Argentina and Chile are dealing with the global economic crisis and how recent changes in the United States will affect bilateral relations with the regional trading bloc,” said Verdu, who led the trip for the third time.

Adolfo Ibañez University, Santiago, Chile
Adolfo Ibañez University, Santiago, Chile

“Each visit was extremely valuable to us as professors in business schools,” Jiang said. “For instance, at Southern Cross in Sao Paulo (Brazil), we learned how they buy undervalued companies, add value, then sell. The managing director explained their strategies with respect to the Latin American economy; that’s just one piece of information we can pass along to students.”

A packed agenda brings unique opportunities.

Other places the group visited included a pharmaceutical company, Disney LATAM, Google, an incubator in Buenos Aires, the largest construction company in Brazil, a design center, a microbrewery, an exporting company and a top business school in each of the three countries.

Viña Indomita, Chile
Viña Indomita, Chile

“At each visit, our small group met with high-level executives who presented in-depth knowledge of their sector of the global economy, or we met with business educators who gave insight into the business climate of the region,” Verdu said. “Plus we enjoyed enriching experiences such as tango lessons, the opportunity to trek or horseback ride trip through the Andes, and to getting to know the culture and people of South America.”

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