The last leg of our trip was packed of even more constructive meetings. We started on the Sony lot where we got to meet Marie Jacobson, VP of Worldwide Networks. Marie has worked in the television business all over the world and her experience and hard work eventually earned her an incredible job leading Sony’s international networks. Sony reaches over 180 countries with 1.3 billion subscribers to 80 channels on 151 feeds.
Marie is clearly passionate about her job—she eats, lives and breathes television. She knows the industry inside and out and was able to walk us through what it’s like to run an international television network. It’s not enough for her to focus on the American audience; every country has specific taste when it comes to T.V. A show that went over well in India might do terribly in Japan. Marie works to ensure that Sony’s television shows fit the cultural and entertainment needs of the countries in which they air. We followed up the fantastic meeting with a private tour of Sony’s lot, which included the chance to see several famous sets. Seeing Jeopardy’s set was a highlight.
Next, we got the amazing opportunity to contrast the Sony franchise with Fox. We met with Grant Gish, who’s the vice president of animation at Fox and a Washington and Lee alumnus. Grant talked about the company as well as what his day-to-day job is like. He’s responsible for selling and developing animation shows. Grant said that Fox has always tried to differentiate itself from the other major networks by attempting to make innovative and bold choices. The challenge within his industry is developing shows to which audiences can relate. To do this, he looks for good characters who live in a grounded world. The entertainment industry is all about relating the show to the viewer, but there’s an element of creativity there that can be hard to consistently reproduce. It was cool when Grant gave us a sneak peek of a television show he’s currently developing.
We concluded our Fox adventure across the lot with another W&L alumnus, Keith Rauch. Keith works in marketing, developing trailers for movies. He asked each of us to name the last movie advertisement that stuck out to us, a question that none of us were able to answer. This question highlighted his consistent struggle to reach our generation with marketing and advertising messages. After explaining how he got to his current position and showing us some of his work, he brought in some members of the team that developed the marketing for the upcoming Peanuts movie. It was interesting to circle back to Charlie Brown and the Schulz franchise and hear about some of the movie’s challenges and goals. The team talked about how today’s youth do not know the Peanuts characters like their parents do, so accessing them and getting them excited about the movie can be hard to do.
Time and time again on this trip, we’ve seen how tough it is to get a target audience excited about a product, especially when the audience is young. Sam Levine seems to be in the right industry since all his company does is work with large companies to help them market their products to youth.
In Santa Rosa, we had the amazing opportunity to go behind the scenes at the Peanuts headquarters. We explored the Charles M. Schulz Museum, Schulz’ recreated studio, and Snoopy’s Home Ice–the Redwood Empire Ice Arena, which are all part of the Schulz campus. Before we left for California, we had spent two weeks at W&L, inundated with all kinds of Snoopy propaganda. The Santa Rosa leg of our trip was well worth the indoctrination! We explored the life of Charles Schulz and every event that shaped his career, and we saw how the Peanuts comic strip rose to prominence. Most importantly, we got to see what makes a franchise like the Peanuts one so successful.
Just as we thought the Peanuts tour was ending, we got an amazing opportunity—to meet with Jeanie Schulz, Charles Schulz’s wife. She talked with us about how the Peanuts franchise strives to maintain the values that were important to her husband. She also talked about the upcoming Charlie Brown movie and how she hopes it will introduce the next generation to the Peanuts gang.
Meeting with the various individuals who work every day to ensure the Peanuts comic remains iconic was an experience of a lifetime, but there was still more to come. We headed down to Los Angeles for three more packed days of meetings and events. First, we got the opportunity to meet with W&L alumnus Sam Levine. Sam is the director of brand partners at Fuel Incorporated, a youth marketing firm. His firm has digital products in over 193 countries in 90 different languages. I learned a lot over the course of the meeting but took away one big concept from his talk.
Relationships. Relationships. Relationships. One of the biggest ways that Sam got to where he is today is through the relationships he built. Sam said, “at the end of the day, everything is a relationship business.” Through hard work one can succeed, but it helps to have some connections to aid you along the way. Washington and Lee is known for having amazing alumni that are open to starting relationships with students and new grads, but Sam really put it in perspective. He said no one does a deal with Warner Brothers, but instead they do a deal with individual people who work for Warner Brothers. In any industry it’s imperative to make, build, and maintain relationships.
Coming away from this meeting, I realized how special a school like Washington and Lee is. It is a school that encourages individuals to go the extra step and build lasting relationships. One can see this through the speaking tradition or our honor code, both of which create independent and trustworthy individuals who thrive on making and maintaining lasting relationships.
I’m taking Professor Stephen Lind’s business communication class, Framing Snoopy: The Making of a Franchise, and as part of our class, we’re traveling to California to visit with a lot of people who are connected to the PEANUTS franchise.
We shuttled from Lexington to Washington, D.C. on Saturday, taking an early evening flight to San Francisco. On the plane, there were 10 of us and about 90 antsy middle school kids who had been on their school’s annual trip to D.C. and were decked out in FBI hoodies. Six hours and three movies later, we landed in San Francisco, grabbed our bags and headed to the nearest In and Out burger—officially playing into every stereotype about California tourists.
I slept well and woke up with tons of energy. After grabbing a hearty continental breakfast in the hotel lobby, we were off to the Walt Disney Museum, which is located in The Presidio, near historic Crissy Field. Professor Lind had arranged a private tour of the museum, which was great because we got to learn Disney’s entire life story and see relics from his career, including many of his Oscars. The Museum was arranged chronologically, according to the timeline of Disney’s life, and there were a lot of interesting visuals that framed the Disney franchise in a positive manner. Physical mementos went a long in helping to illustrate the various facts that our guide shared with us.
Following the tour we headed outdoors to enjoy lunch at Crissy Field. Off The Grid is a traveling group of food trucks, and it happened to be located in the Field that afternoon, so we got to take our pick of great local foods. I personally gorged myself on calamari, Asian meat skewers, and freshly squeezed lemonade. After we’d eaten ourselves into a food coma, we went to Fisherman’s Wharf, a local tourist destination on the bay. Our class wandered the piers, taking in the street performers and the famous seals at Pier 39.
Later that day, we boarded the van and traveled to Santa Rosa. Tomorrow, we are going to the Charles Schulz Museum where we’ll meet with various people, all of whom contribute in some way to the management of the PEANUTS franchise.
On the drive to Santa Rosa, we did manage to stop at the Red Wood Forest, where we walked amongst trees that are hundreds of years old. Considering the smorgasbord we’d enjoyed for lunch, the walk turned out to be a decent way to burn off a couple calories. We kept dinner fairly light, eating at a local Mexican restaurant, and then we checked in at the Flamingo Resort, where we’re now retiring and recharging for day two of Communicating a Franchise: the California Edition.
We have just finished watching the final project presentations, and what a relief it is to be done! The two weeks in Lexington followed by another two in Copenhagen have been fast-paced, but rewarding.
The highly anticipated visit to Carlsberg Brewery ended up being an interesting visit, but not in the way any of us imagined. We toured the brewery’s museum to learn about the company’s history and greatly enjoyed the tasting room. Unfortunately, the representative we were supposed to speak with was busy, so we were unable to hear about Carlsberg’s CSR initiatives. Still, we managed to entertain ourselves. We discovered the Carlsberg app and ended up in a fierce competition to see who could achieve the highest score in the beer-making game and win free beer. Professor Straughan was initially a strong contender, but Kellie was better and won! Another intense competition occurred at the foosball tables, where champions Keith and Nate defeated multiple challengers.
It’s easy to forget that we are here for class, but reality kicked in this week. We spent the week working hard on our final projects Each group decided on a CSR topic that’s relevant to Denmark and created a video about the issue. The process was challenging, because we had to find an interesting topic, gather the research, and create the final product—all within a short time period. Our hostel has terrible WiFi, so most groups wound up giving up and going elsewhere to work. One of my favorite spots was Andersen Bakery, where my group spent most of our time. The quiet atmosphere was great for work. And more importantly, we had delicious pastries and coffee within arms reach.
By Wednesday night, we were all ready for a study break. Many of us went to watch FC Copenhagen play at Parken Stadium. It was exciting to watch professional football (or as Americans call the sport, soccer) and to experience the cheering fans. For Henry, the best part of the night was when he caught one of the balls the employees threw into the crowd.
Thursday night concluded with a class dinner at Höst, a restaurant that serves new Nordic cuisine. Our meal consisted of three main courses, three surprises and a snack. The meal itself received mixed reviews from the class, since not everyone is an adventurous foodie. I thought the meal was definitely interesting, particularly because the chef used ash and various local vegetables in multiple courses.
Tomorrow, we will bid Copenhagen farewell. Our last stop is the amusement park Tivoli! At our professors’ insistence, we tried a local delicacy—salted licorice. Unlike our meal at Höst, where everyone found at least something they enjoyed eating, the general consensus was that salted licorice was not a favorite of anyone’s! However, if you happen to be in Denmark, I highly recommend that you try salted licorice (and visit Tivoli) for the experience!
The past few days have kept us busy with company visits and cultural lessons. During our visit to global shipping giant Maersk, we found out about how the company has integrated the concept of shared values into their business model. My professors have taken W&L students to visit Maersk before, so the staff provided an update on the company’s progress since the university’s last visit. I thought it was fascinating to learn that Maersk costumers value reliability over speed when it comes to cargo delivery. The session ended with a creative mind-mapping exercise, which was very entertaining to watch!
Other visits this week included the new office of pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk. It is amazing how something as small as a molecule inspired the building’s design. The building also has many sustainable features, which is fitting, considering that Novo Nordisk is a leader in CSR reporting. The media always portrays pharmaceutical firms as profit-oriented organizations, so we were pleasantly surprised to learn Novo Nordisk has committed to finding a cure for diabetes and making the treatment accessible to all.
Our last visit this week brought us to the Confederation of Danish Industries, where we learned how the organization promotes CSR by working with both the government and privately held companies. This was the first time we talked about the CSR strategies employed by small firms, and it served as a good contrast to all the larger companies we have studied so far.
Most of us agree that one of the highlights of this week has been the dinners with Danish families. We’ve been served delicious meals of traditional Danish cuisine, such as Smørrebrød, which are open-faced sandwiches. It’s definitely been nice to enjoy amazing home cooked meals after months of eating in W&L’s D-Hall. Our hosts have also given us the names of trendy restaurants and cafes in Copenhagen to try.
At the end of this week, we got to enjoy a couple days of sightseeing. We saw Frederiksborg Palace, a palace so luxurious that it was too expensive for the king to live in regularly, and Kronborg Castle, which is where Hamlet took place. Did you know that a castle was for defense and fortification while a palace was a place for royalty to live? Or that most landmarks in Denmark have burned down at least once? We learned quite a few fun facts on our outings.
We’ve also learned that there is such a thing as too much ice cream! The class visited an ice cream shop outside of central Copenhagen and watched as Nate decided to take on the Lydolph (multiple scoops of ice cream in a cone, topped with incredible amounts of soft serve and then a topping of your choice). You’ll have you ask him if he was successful in his endeavor!
Next week, we have fewer class events planned because we’ll be busy completing our final photo essay project. We’re all looking forward to the last company visit at Carlsberg, especially after hearing that we will be meeting in the company’s tasting room!
After months of anticipation followed by two weeks of fast-paced preparation, we finally arrived in the amazing city of Copenhagen! Each of our rooms has an incredible view of either Tivoli, the amusement park that inspired Disneyland, or the beautiful riverfront with historic buildings. We’ve already experienced the famous bicycles and pedestrian-centered traffic culture that we’d heard so much about prior to our arrival.
Of course, looking at the city is never as exciting as exploring it. On our second day in Copenhagen, we took a tour of the city in the morning and visited Deloitte in the afternoon.
Our tour covered Copenhagen’s medieval district and included a boat tour of the harbor. While our spirits were slightly dampened by the rain and wind, we learned a lot about the city. Historical events characterize Copenhagen, including the numerous great fires that ravaged the city’s historic buildings — some buildings have been ruined multiple times. The architecture varies. One minute we’re walking down winding streets with houses that have been preserved from the 1700s and the next we’re passing modern buildings such as Copenhagen’s library, the Black Diamond. I think we were all interested to learn that there was a time when Copenhagen’s sewers were open, which means that layers of human waste could be found underneath much of the city center.
That afternoon, following the tour, we visited Deloitte for a lesson about corporate social responsibility. The Deloitte office was vibrant, open and — true to Danish design principles — simple and modern. It was lit almost entirely by natural light. We had our first sighting (and testing) of the infamous Danish “egg chairs,” which we had read about beforehand. The staff at Deloitte provided us with a great overview of the five main aspects of corporate social responsibility.
One of the best things about traveling is sampling the food. For our first dinner, some of us ate at Mother, a restaurant that’s known for delicious sourdough pizza. What stood out the most to me was how organic and natural the atmosphere was (this seems to be a repeating theme in Copenhagen). There was an open kitchen and pots of herbs were the centerpieces in the middle of our wooden tables. Other fantastic food moments have included a meal at an outdoor café, where we huddled under blankets trying to stay warm, and a quick trip to a hygge pastry shop. Hygge is a Danish word without an English translation, meaning something along the lines of cozy or comfortable.
Although we have a busy schedule, there is plenty of time for exploring the city. Tomorrow, we are off to visit Maersk and will experience more of what Copenhagen has to offer!
Living a few miles outside of town in the quiet community of Salt Hill, my class’ presence has not gone unnoticed. For the past month, we’ve become known as “the Americans down in the Grattan Apartments.” But I would never take that as an insult. To me, that means that we actually explored the town. Tomorrow is my last day and I already miss all the places that have made this town feel like home. Here is my makeshift love letter to my favorite Galway classics.
To Galway Girl:
Whenever this song comes on, I always pretend that I know the accompanying dance. It’s a cross between a country square dance and Irish step dancing. There’s something about the lyrics, “And I ask you friends, what’s a fella to do? Because her hair was black and her eyes were blue, and I knew right then, I’d be takin’ a whirl, down the Salt Hill Prom with a Galway Girl.” We belt it out at the top of our lungs every time.
The go-to “I’m in college and don’t have enough money for a nice meal” restaurant. While it is very reminiscent of Chipotle, I appreciate that it was there for us whenever we needed a quick bite. I’m still a little bitter that I never punched my frequent buyer card enough to get a free burrito. But I wouldn’t be at all upset if Boojum expanded into the United States.
What kind of student would I be if I didn’t say that I’ll miss the National University of Ireland, Galway? Home to many of our incredible lectures and classes, I can genuinely say I’ve learned more in that room than I ever could have hoped. Not to mention the fact that the NUIG cafeteria provided the perfect reference point for my friends and I, all of us eager to observe the latest Irish fashion trends.
To the Cliffs:
I completely understand why people used to think that the world was flat. A few daring classmates ventured to the edge of the cliffs, and the view was spectacular—cascading rocks and crashing waves. From such a dramatic vantage point, it seems impossible to believe that there could be anything on the other side of the ocean. The Cliffs of Moher and the ruins of Dun Duchathair, the Black Fort, and the Aran Islands are scenes that not only took my breath away but that I will remember forever.
To The King’s Head:
The King’s Head pub was always a reliable stop for some craic, local slang for “a good time.” It gets its unusual name because, at one point, it was the home of Col. Peter Stubbers, who in 1649, executed the King of England, Charles I. We enjoyed many nights there, staying out until the wee hours of the morning. I can assure you, even though The King’s Head is over 400 years old, it’s not going anywhere!
“Sweet, sweet Morton’s” was our name for the store that was a stone’s throw from the front window of our apartment. Every morning we’d run across the street in slippers to get ingredients for our version of an Irish breakfast. More than anything, I will miss this country’s fresh ingredients: butter, milk, salmon, beef. Local farmers produce the freshest products, and as a result of this trip, I think I’ll always crave Galway Bay salmon and local crème fraîche.
I couldn’t have asked for a better experience in Galway, Ireland. This being my first business course, my next one has some big shoes to fill. Watch out, C-School!
I never expected any culture shock when I came to Ireland. After all, I’m speaking my native language, studying under a W&L professor, and traveling alongside classmates with whom I’m already comfortable. At the same time, I’m learning basic things like the fact that I’ve got to look right when crossing the street—the Irish drive on the left side of the road. Or I’m trying to remember to call French fries “chips.” There are so many little things I do that make me stick out like a sore (American) thumb.
However, now that I’m on week three in Galway, I find myself becoming more confident. I know my way around town, I go to my regular restaurants and pubs, and I ask questions of the speakers in class. The other day I strolled up to an ice cream shop and ordered like a local, “Can I have a 99 with an extra flake?” (That’s an ice cream cone piled high with a tower of vanilla soft-serve and two chocolate sticks sticking out of the side!)
I know I’m not the only one beginning to feel more confident. As a class, we traveled to Dublin last weekend to meet with leaders in human resource education, speak to successful entrepreneurs, and of course, take a tour of the Guinness brewery. At an Irish dance show on Thursday night, I watched my friend Nicki sing every word to a traditional children’s song, Bog Down in the Valley (Raitlin Bog). I recommend looking it up. Later that same night, our friends Maggie and Lauren unintentionally made €3 on the steps outside the pub, attempting to replicate the Irish step dance we had seen earlier. Apparently, they were convincing! On Wednesday our entire class watched a hurling demonstration, and afterwards, we all tossed the ball around—poorly! Still, we managed. Alongside a group of Irish students and the hurling instructors, we felt at ease.
Our confidence extends to little things like striking up casual conversations with cab drivers. We’ve heard some amazing stories; one cab driver drove the Zac Brown Band around Dublin and another convinced me to cut five inches off my hair at a local salon. To me, the Irish seem inherently confident, and comfortable in all situations, which is something I admire. When we visit with Irish entrepreneurs—whether they work in the clothing industry, the medical supply industry or the aerospace industry—there’s a certain charisma they all seem to have. Here, business people become captivating storytellers, which must undoubtedly contribute to their success.
We had only just arrived in Dublin, Ireland, when a group of us boarded the wrong bus. The drive from Dublin to Galway is less than that from Saint Louis to Kansas City—just 130 miles. But while half our class boarded an express bus and managed to speed across the lush Irish countryside in two-and-a-half hours, it took the rest of us closer to six hours to make it to Galway. We’d accidentally boarded a local bus, but the mistake wasn’t such a bad one — we got an incredible portrait of the country as our bus stopped in small villages and towns along the way. Looking back, I’m glad it was our first taste of Ireland.
Galway is a college town on the west coast of Ireland, nestled in Galway Bay. Every morning I get to walk behind my apartment and look past the boardwalk to a rocky beach that extends out into the water and meets a set of rolling hills on the other side.
So far we’ve enjoyed a mix of literature, lectures and landscapes as our syllabus weaves together the intricate history of Ireland, and Galway specifically. On our first day, in typical Irish fashion, we all sported raincoats and trekked through a wet downtown Galway with a tour guide who seemed more encyclopedia than human.
Our class visited Coole Park, frequent summer home of W.B. Yeats, and ventured through the limestone covered Burren to the Cliffs of Moher. Both stops showcased Ireland’s natural beauty. From the cliffs, we went to Fleadh na gCuach in Kinvara, a music festival that takes place in a series of local pubs and showcases Irish talent.
Despite the picturesque landscapes, I’ve already learned that this place is more than misty green mountains and fairytales about leprechauns. With a highly educated workforce and competitive economy, the Irish are an active people, bringing in massive corporations and investors from around the world. The IDA, a government-run agency charged with attracting foreign direct investors, just signed a €850 million contract with Apple to begin building a new data center in County Galway.
On a local level, small businesses are flourishing in Ireland’s growing economy. Every day, I see restaurants and pubs that were established in the 1600s and are still fully functional, serving up delicious food and drink. We went to the popular greyhound races at Galway Greyhound Stadium. The racing industry originally started to give people jobs and reasons to stay in Ireland during times of economic trouble.
My mother asked me the other day if I was eating more than just cabbage and potatoes. My father asked me if anyone was walking around in kilts. Their questions highlight Ireland’s perception problem. When people think of Ireland, the people and the culture can get confused and overshadowed by stereotypes, myths and Hollywood images. The reality is that Ireland’s history, economy and way of life are unique and strong, more so than I ever imagined.
Nine bottles of sunscreen, 10 tubs of peanut butter, two gallons of Gatorade mix, a few nice Teva tans and countless memories. We bartered in sunscreen and Oreos, and success is now measured in the number of unburned body parts each of us can claim. We made it back to Lexington, having completed our 800-mile sailing journey through the Caribbean in one piece.
Over the past three weeks, we have learned to autonomously operate, navigate, and ultimately sail our beloved 54.5’ Beneteau. I don’t think any of us realized how busy we would be aboard the ship. We rotate daily roles to keep the ship running smoothly. The skipper is the captain and works closely with the navigator, first mate, and info officer to plot the day’s course and direct the crew. Two-person teams tackle meal preparation, dish cleaning, and deck swabbing, but everyone always helps keep the ship in shape. Sailing is time consuming, so we did three overnight sails in order to make time for all we wanted to do during the daytime. Pulling all-nighters in 30-knot winds and six-foot swells certainly wasn’t what I imagined when I considered what it would be like to sail through the Caribbean!
Although it was a large part of our trip, sailing was only half of what we did. A major component of the trip has been meeting with ex-patriot managers like the HR director and general manager of the Four Seasons Resort in Nevis. He discussed the challenges of assimilating into a new culture and working effectively with a new team. For example, when new management tries to implement immediate changes, Caribbean locals can be resistant. Often, putting any kind of change in place within the first three months is infeasible. He talked about how employees are intrinsically motivated to do well and are less motivated by money. We also met with local government leaders like the Commissioner of Statia and a vice president for St. Barts and discussed challenges that local governments face managing the islands as a whole.
Each student has presented on a relevant topic to his/her major. We’ve learned about microfinance of small businesses, the physics of sailing, the psychology of leadership in stressful scenarios, the regional geology of the Caribbean, the economics of sugar cane production, the philosophy of slavery, poverty in the Caribbean, and conversational French. It has been very cool to learn from each other, particularly when we’re each so individually invested in the topics.
A final component of our adventure has been exploring the islands in pursuit of cultural understanding. This mainly took the form of talking with and learning from the locals. We’ve figured out that just about everyone in the Leeward Islands thinks his or her island has the nicest people; however, no two islands are the same. All the islands are driven by unique economies: Statia survives on the oil trade while St. Kitts gets by on sugar cane production and St. Barts thrives on purely tourism.
At the end of each day, we each found a perch on the boat and kept a journal of our experiences and how they related to our own personal insights about leadership, both on and off the boat. It’s been quite an enjoyable way to reflect on the day’s activities and interactions and relate them back to the lectures we attended during the winter term.
Some of the highlights of the trip have been:
The Quill Hike in Statia
A perfect volcanic cone protruding from the small island, The Quill is a well-maintained nature reserve. We hiked to the top ridgeline of the extinct volcano and decided that just peering into the center of the cone wasn’t enough. We descended into the cone and entered a new world – a full-on rainforest with trunks as big as redwoods and vines as plentiful as the exotic plants.
Snorkeling, hiking, dining. You name it, and St. Barts has the best of it. The meeting we had with a local government official only confirmed our desires to live there one day. He told us about their low taxes, zero crime, zero debt, and very low unemployment. Oh, and their beaches are okay too…
Loblolly Beach, Anegada (Pictured above)
An absolutely pristine, horseshoe-shaped beach protected by a barrier reef and lined with brilliant white sand. Definition Paradise. The lagoon was home to the clearest water and the biggest barracuda any of us had ever seen.
Hobie Cat Sailing, Virgin Gorda
Our friends at the Bitter End Yacht Club rented us three Hobie Cat sailboats, and after learning how to windsurf, we proceeded to race and zip around the North Sound for the entire afternoon. Such a great time!
Thank you to all who have been following our journey. We arrived back in Lexington late tonight and now we start our 20-page research papers, which will finish off the term. All in all, I couldn’t think of a better way to spend three weeks.
Harry and the Rest of the Crew
We are off to an incredible start to our journey, and time is flying by in the islands. Let me get you back up to speed.
Since the last time I wrote, we have all “earned” new nicknames—partly to resolve the Perry-Harry-Mary-Barry dilemma, but mostly just for fun. We now have Pear-dog, Hairbare, Al-Pal, Addigirl, Port, Consuela, Big Dog, Moon Dog, and of course, Deputy Dog/Dad. All of these names have stories to go along with them, however, none of the stories could fit in this post! Just know that we are all getting along great, and spirits are high.
On day one, we packed 10 days’ worth of food in the galley. It was a puzzle packing everything in the cupboards, and it’s now a game of Jenga any time we take something out. That said, our cooking has been delicious. We’ve whipped up dishes like BBQ chicken, steak, chicken teriyaki stir-fry, and pasta with Dr. Shay’s signature sauce (Prego & Salsa). Not complaining!
After completing our final preparations, we left the dock and hoisted the sails for the first time on April 28th. We were pretty rough at first, but with some tutelage from our resident sailing experts, we were off and heeling at 10kts like the best of them. Since that first day, we have navigated places called “Collision Point” and “Shark Bay,” squeezed through a tight channel called the “Blow Hole,” and sailed 120 miles in a single night. We’ve come a long way, and our sailing continues to improve every day. Since there is so much I could include in this blog post, I thought I’d write about the top three things we’re appreciating right now.
So far, we have explored six islands in six days: St. Thomas, Tortola, Norman Island, Virgin Gorda, Beef Island, and St. Martin. During these visits, we have interviewed local business owners and managers who represent various industries. For example, we’ve met with owners and operators of small restaurants and a 100-year-old rum distillery, as well as administrators from Tortola’s Community College and the manager of the Bitter End Yacht Club (located in “Billionaire Alley”). Beyond these meetings, daily interaction with locals has given us valuable insight into the diverse cultures present throughout the islands.
We’ve snorkeled through the caves of Norman Island and explored the baths of Virgin Gorda. Along the way, we’ve met a wide array of marine life, including an octopus that matched my turquoise bathing suit, lobsters that hid under the deepest coral, and barracuda that lurked in the shadows. At the baths, we followed a trail that led past towering boulders and caves, all the while enjoying views of the pristine blue water below. At the Bitter End, we hiked a local peak to watch a brilliant sunrise, and then we zipped around the bay on Hobie Cat boats for several hours. Island activities never get old and there are always more new things to try.
Food and Ting
Who doesn’t like a good meal with a Drop of Caribbean Sunshine*?
*Ting is a popular island soda in the Caribbean that we have come to love. Withdrawal symptoms are inevitable upon our return to the states…
In summary, we are very fortunate to have started off the Spring Term with such an unforgettable week. We can’t wait to see what the next two have to offer!
Until next time,
Harry and the Rest of the Crew
I’m writing this from the Mariner Inn and Marina in Tortola, where our sailboat is moored. Today we laid eyes on the “Erocridar II,” which is the gorgeous vessel that will be our home for the next three weeks. She’s a beauty—55’ in length and fortified with strength. My classmates and I will sail this boat around the Caribbean, studying cross-cultural leadership with our professor, Dr. Shay.
There are eight of us students on the crew. Selected for our varying interests and academic pursuits, we are a diverse group. We have majors in business, accounting, math, psychology and geology, and our interests are just as widespread. The one trait we all have in common: a passion for adventure.
Signing up to spend three weeks on a boat—living, cooking and traveling in very small quarters—might worry some people, but to us it’s an adventure and an ideal learning environment. Dr. Shay helped us prepare for the trip over the winter term by leading a series of lectures, readings and discussions about cross-cultural leadership. We wanted to learn as much as possible, so that we’d be able to wholeheartedly focus on the application of these lessons in the field.
We left at 3:50 a.m. on Sunday to catch our flight to the Caribbean, and arrived in St. Thomas around noon. Stepping off the plane, we drank in the view—the way the mountainous landscape met the pristine waters below made us excited for the weeks to come. After months of preparation, we had finally made it to the Caribbean.
All of us enjoyed watching Dr. Shay rekindle some friendships with familiar locals. While we waited for a ferry to Tortola, we dined at a beautiful restaurant overlooking the harbor. The “ferry” surprised all of us. It was more like a speedboat. We flew by neighboring islands, which gave us a just a small taste of the historically rich sights we would soon be able to enjoy at our own pace.
Once we arrived in Tortula, it was just a short taxi ride to the marina where our boat was moored. While the boat was being checked out, we got to relax in the pool and enjoy some final showers. The rest of the afternoon was spent packing our gear below deck and preparing for the next day’s departure.
By 10 p.m., Dr. Shay’s “dad” jokes had slowed to a trickle. I think we all welcomed our pillows after a long day of travel. Despite being tired, our spirits were high. We woke up with the sun and began our first full day in the Caribbean. We can’t wait to push off this afternoon!BUS 390B Course Description