Published 01/11/12

South of the border: Winter break studies take students to Panama, Costa Rica

January 11, 2012

Bryant students studying abroad during winter break are finding out that Panama is much more than the canal and a cup of coffee is more than a hill of beans.

Take, for example, Taylor Bell and Matt Borsuk. They are part of the Sophomore International Experience (SIE) trip to Panama and Costa Rica this month, and are keeping everyone posted through their SIE blog.

From Day 3:

"We started our morning with a trip to the Colon Free Trade Zone where we met up with Bryant alumnus Julio Pretto. Julio was a 1988 marketing graduate and is currently a marketing director and business owner at the free trade zone. We were lucky enough to listen to an informative presentation by Julio and some of his coworkers emphasizing the importance of the free trade zone and international trade. We ... walk[ed] around in some of the stores, showrooms and warehouses. Because the free trade zone has no taxes, the prices were unbeatable!"

Nicholas and Tomas Alberti blogged about a presentation by the Panama-American Chamber of Commerce that "gave us a useful background of Panamanian economy as a whole. We learned that Panama ... has the highest GDP per capita in the region. The three major engines that give Panama a great reputation are its construction and infrastructure, transportation, and tourism" — a description The New York Times also recognized when it recently named Panama No. 1 in "The 45 Places to Go in 2012."

From farm to cup in Costa Rica

A spring semester marketing course on environmentally sustainable practices got a head start Jan. 10 when the enrolled students and faculty departed for two weeks of study in Costa Rica, where they will focus on the coffee industry. (Follow the class, MKT 385, "Sustainability Marketing," on its blog.)

While there, they will collect data from businesses in the industry. Back in the classroom, the students, along with Sharmin Attaran, assistant professor of marketing, will use the research to create a report on how organizations can improve their communication about sustainability practices from farm to cup. "Our mission is to gather data in order to provide recommendations to other companies wishing to operate more sustainably," said Stefanie Boyer, assistant professor of marketing.