Chase Caverzagie, a senior actuarial science major from Papillion, Nebraska, will travel abroad to Benin in West Africa this December. Prior to the trip, students in their International Studies – Business & Economics (BSAD 491) class are working on two projects to explore the complexities of international trade and business in the frontier market. In Benin, the students plan to interview Beninese and other African immigrants to better understand their culture and experiences. The students will then present their plans to expand tourism and create employment for young people in Benin. Caverzagie selected the global immersion program to experience the African culture firsthand and learn from those in the College of Business who are familiar with the region. He shared how he looks forward to “seeing new things and experiencing a culture much different than my own.”
First, A Trip To Japan – November 30, 2018
In my last blog, I mentioned that I will join my best friend, Will Schulenberg, on the trip to Beninafter he has been studying abroad in Japan all fall semester. About a month ago, I decided to test out my brand-new passport and take a week to fly out to Japan to visit him! This was the first time I had seen Will in over two months, and it was my first time leaving the United States. We got to do many cool things together such as visit several shrines, go to the Tokyo Observation Tower and Hello Kitty Land.
I especially enjoyed getting to challenge myself on a smaller scale before heading to Benin. For example, Will had me try all sorts of new foods such as octopus and dried sardine, and he even taught me a few Japanese phrases. Getting myself out of my comfort zone was scary at first, but eventually I settled in. Experiencing this trip with Will made me even more excited to unite with him in December in Benin! With finals in sight and our departure date quickly approaching, I can’t help but think how fast this semester has gone.
Preparing Our Class Project – November 8, 2018
Here we are: only 42 days from departure to Benin, Africa! Full disclosure – at first I was hesitant. Africa is so different. What would I eat? How would I communicate? How will I adjust to the time difference? I have to buy a passport. But that’s what makes this trip so great. When else in my adult life will I have the chance to go to West Africa for a week guided by great faculty and partners of the university? In my mind, this opportunity far outweighs any of my original excuses. Only 42 days out and I’m nothing but excited.
As part of the preparations and to receive academic credit for the experience, I am in class with the other six people on the trip. We are divided into two groups working on separate projects. One of my group members, Will Schulenberg, is currently studying abroad in Japan, so we work on projects mostly online. Occasionally, Tyler Jacobson and I meet up to work out details. The faculty leader of the trip, Dr. Kalu Osiri, challenged us to think of an innovative idea that could provide meaningful employment for 10,000 people over the next 10 years. Tyler came up with a great idea of hydroelectricity because there are many geographical and economic advantages to building this type of renewable energy source in Benin.
For the past five weeks, we have worked on putting together a business plan to jumpstart a micro hydroelectricity business in Benin that we will present to community leaders in the country. This includes everything from online research of different types of power plants to conducting our own primary research by designing and deploying a survey, and developing a potential marketing plan. To me, what is most fun about this project is we came up with our own idea. Most of the time, the project doesn’t feel like actual work. It’s fun developing a business plan for an idea we are passionate about.
As the days tick by, anticipation grows. Imagining myself in Africa is weird, but I am more excited now than I ever have been. See you in Africa in 42 short days.