In 1983, I was given the life-changing opportunity to study at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, by the Rotary International Foundation. While the scholarship officially allowed me to pursue graduate studies in human rights law, my benefactors knew I would learn as much—or more—just from living in a different culture. And they were right. For example, at that time Ireland was in the depths of economic depression. To turn the economy around, the government made tough choices and sacrificed popularity to invest in public education and open the country to international investment. Its plan for job creation was simple: Create a talented workforce and incentives for multinational companies to choose Ireland as a base. In the years to come, I watched intently as the famed Celtic Tiger economy emerged. During my own time in public office, I often took counsel from what I had witnessed in Ireland as much as from what I had formally studied.
In today’s interconnected world, being exposed to diverse cultures and ideas is indispensible. Currently, Babson offers numerous opportunities to study abroad, for one or two semesters, with a choice of more than 80 programs in 34 countries. And true to our entrepreneurial roots, Babson goes beyond traditional student exchanges. To expose students to rising economies, we created a BRIC program that takes students to Russia, China, and India for an academic year of studies in those vibrant countries. Our semester in San Francisco puts students interested in the tech boom right in the middle of this exciting environment here in the U.S.
We also offer short-term courses abroad, which are led by Babson professors. The focus of these courses varies widely, from examining social responsibility in Malaysia, to strategizing on startups in France, to understanding how to conduct business in Brazil. Students who want to spend their summers abroad studying and participating in internships can choose from more than a dozen programs. If an international consulting experience is what our students seek, they can participate in the Joint Management Consulting Field Experience. Students and alumni who participated in some of these programs share their thoughts in this issue’s “Roam.”
Babson students also learn from other cultures right here on our Wellesley campus. At Babson, we take pride in our multicultural and international community and the opportunities for learning it presents—for all our students. This year, students from 87 countries came together at Babson, bringing with them an array of fascinating and challenging perspectives and ideas. Our domestic students are as excited about sharing U.S. history and local culture (go Sox!) as they are about learning from their international peers. This diversity contributes to everyone’s learning experience, not only in the classroom but in everyday life. Our graduates leave with friends—and potential business partners—in every corner of the world.
Our alumni network now extends across 114 countries. Many of these alumni contribute to our students’ international experiences by offering internships at their businesses, providing company tours, or just hosting a dinner for visiting classes. Now more than ever, Babson students not only learn to be entrepreneurs, but also how to become culturally competent business leaders, able to succeed and feel at ease anywhere in the world.