The “Global Immersion Experience” (GIE) course kicks off with a weeklong residency followed by three-weeks overseas, wrapping up our M.S. in Commerce journey. McIntire faculty and staff lead trips to six different regions around the world to give us the opportunity to apply the business knowledge we’ve gained in a global context and learn about a wide variety of industries and companies.
The GIE residency began early on a Monday morning. I was on the GIE track to the United Arab Emirates, Nepal, and India with Professor Peter Maillet who taught our spring “Foundations of Global Commerce” class. There were 20 of us on this track, led by Professor Maillet and Darci Spuck, Director of Global Alumni & Friends Engagement. For one week prior to travel, we would dive deep into the cultural and business practices of the Persian Gulf and the Indian subcontinent.
After the first day reviewing the itinerary and list of companies we would be visiting, we enjoyed a group dinner featuring Southeast Asian cuisine. We tried traditional dishes like pad thai, green papaya salad, and chicken satay. It was a very helpful (and extremely enjoyable) way to get a preview of the flavor palate we would soon be eating for the next few weeks.
For the remainder of the week, Professor Maillet divided us into small groups and assigned each team a country to research and present on to the rest of the class. Each presentation gave an overview using the four dimensions we learned about in our “Foundations of Global Commerce” course: people, place, political economy, and global presence. We then engaged our classmates in lively discussions comparing and contrasting the different countries.
Each student was also assigned one of the companies we would be visiting. We had to research the company and then present to the class. We created one-page company profiles that would later be distributed during the trip as a refresher before the actual company visit. The turnaround time for each assignment was quick, but we didn’t mind. Everyone was eager to learn more about the trip and what to expect.
The residency culminated with an evening reception and dinner on the terrace. Students, faculty, and staff celebrated with plenty of food, drink, and laughs. Program Director Ira Harris shared class anecdotes while also reflecting on some of the more serious and inspirational moments from the past year. It was hard to believe, but this was the last time we would all be together before the class scattered to our six GIE destinations.
The GIE residency was intense—a lot like drinking from a firehose—but typical of the M.S. in Commerce program. We learned a lot in a short period of time, but were leaving UVA and McIntire better prepared, more culturally aware, and even more excited for the rest of the journey!