This summer, 150 students in Virginia Tech's Pamplin College of Business will be studying abroad on seven faculty-led programs to Asia, Africa, and Europe.

The programs, ranging from four to six weeks, are among the ways the college prepares its students to join culturally diverse workplaces and do business around the world, says Lance Matheson, business information technology associate professor and Pamplin’s director of international programs. Employers, including Pamplin alumni, have cited experience abroad and an appreciation for multiculturalism as important factors in business and career success.

Pamplin’s study-abroad programs, Matheson says, are carefully designed by the faculty members in charge to give students rich learning experiences in business management as well as culture and history. Students in the South Africa program, for example, will visit businesses that include a stock exchange, a diamond mine, and a vineyard as well as a game park. “Given the juxtaposition of poverty and wealth in South Africa and the businesses that are trying to bridge this gap,” says program leader, finance professor Rodney Thompson, “the learning experiences available in this environment are unparalleled.”

Students in the Japan and South Korea program organized by management associate professor Devi Gnyawali will visit various companies and participate in discussions on issues faced by businesses there, but they will also tour such cultural sites as the Tokyo Imperial Palace grounds and the National Folk Museum in South Korea and attend a Japanese baseball game.

“Study abroad’s many benefits include experiencing new cultures and ways of life and seeing the world from a new perspective,” says Matheson, who is leading a residential program, based at the Burgundy School of Business in Dijon, France. “It can help students develop new skills, more independence, and self-confidence and allow them to compete more effectively with other job seekers.”

The international experience, he adds, can also help students learn what it really means to be “American and what makes life in the United States different from anywhere else.” Thompson, who is also leading a separate program to Asia, says that studying overseas can provide a life-changing experience for students, many of whom have never before left America. “When they return, they have not only a better understanding of the countries they have visited, but also a better understanding of themselves and the United States.”

Pamplin’s programs this summer are as follows

  • Business in Asia — China, Vietnam, Cambodia, led by finance professor Rodney Thompson and accounting instructor Mary Thompson;
  • Management in Japan and Korea, led by management associate professor Devi Gnyawali;
  • the European Approach to Management, led by management professor Richard Wokutch;
  • Hospitality and Tourism Management in Switzerland, led by hospitality and tourism management professors Brian Mihalik and Muzzo Uysal;
  • Event and Technology Management on the French Riviera, led by accounting and information systems professor France Belanger and hospitality and tourism management instructor Pierre Couture;
  • Doing Business in Europe, led by accounting and information systems professor James Hicks and business information technology associate professor Lance Matheson; and
  • Finance in South Africa, led by finance professor Rodney Thompson.

The college provides scholarship assistance for study abroad. It also offers students international internships, a global business minor, and programs at Virginia Tech’s Center for European Studies and Architecture in Switzerland and at other universities in Europe and Asia. Learn more information about Pamplin’s international programs.

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