Baylor Entrepreneurship in Costa Rica Wraps Up Another YearAug. 2, 2012
Entrepreneurship faculty and students recently returned from a two-week excursion in Costa Rica continuing Baylor Business School's ten-year tradition of hosting culture-rich study abroad programs in Latin America.
The study abroad program is headed up by Leslie Palich, Ph.D., associate director of the Baylor Entrepreneurship Program and David Allen, director of the John F. Baugh Center for Entrepreneurship and the Institute for Family Business. Each year they host 10 students on the trip.
"We are so pleased to be able to offer this study abroad opportunity to our students," said Palich. "And after working to perfect the program for more than a decade now, we are thrilled with the results. Our students uniformly report that what they get from their participation is intensely educational as well as being a whole lot of fun. We would not be satisfied with anything less."
During the fourteen-day experience, students and faculty toured Costa Rica, gaining valuable insights from experts as they spoke about the contemporary challenges of starting and growing businesses in Costa Rica. Students learned how to analyze complex local and global problems, taking into account recent trade agreements and other important economic, political, and cultural issues.
"In addition to seeing and experiencing entrepreneurial activities, which are ongoing in Costa Rica, we teach the students to develop an 'entrepreneurial eye' - seeing needs which can be met by starting a business which addresses that need," said Allen. "For instance, one student, after experiencing the three-hour van ride over beautiful but very rough terrain between Arenal and Monteverde, wrote a business plan for a helicopter service between those two towns, cutting the travel time from three hours to a mere ten minutes (it is only fifteen miles as the crow flies). The tourists would travel in greater comfort, reduce their travel time and see spectacular aerial views of the Costa Rican mountains during the flight. The cultivation of this kind of entrepreneurial mindset will benefit the students greatly in the future, regardless of the career path that they pursue."
While traveling to a variety of cities and towns, the Baylor group immersed themselves in the Latin American culture by visiting museums, historic monuments, coffee and cigar makers, manufacturing operations, and social institutions, as well as tropical rain forests and beautiful beaches. In line with a special emphasis of the program, the second week of the trip was filled with a variety of adventure tourism-related company visits and activities, which is popular with the students and highlights a vitally important sector in the Costa Rican economy.
Students like Luis Garza, a chemistry major and entrepreneurship minor, enjoyed both the educational and cultural experiences of the trip. "Costa Rica is a beautiful country with some of the nicest people I have ever encountered. In this program, you have the opportunity to learn more than in any classroom. You also have the opportunity to make lasting memories and friendships and form strong connections with Baylor professors. I can only say that the two weeks in Costa Rica were the greatest two weeks of my life," said Garza.
The study abroad program is open to undergraduate and graduate students from all degree programs. Students can earn three to six hours of coursework as part of the program, which includes 10 hours of pre-trip class briefings and 20 hours of post-trip class instruction.