Alicia Jackson, Ph.D.
Dean, Sigmund Weis School of Business
GO Short service-learning trips to Peru, Costa Rica and Nicaragua taught Sigmund Weis School of Business (SWSB) head Alicia Jackson, Ph.D., how to construct a stove from bricks and mud, master the use of handmade tools and help remove an obstruction from the nose of a toddler. A renewed respect for different perspectives followed.
In addition to service, the SWSB dean recognizes that participants “experience other cultures and learn that there is more than one way of thinking. That’s the takeaway for our students, and a wonderful reminder of lessons learned for me.”
Two years ago, a trip to Peru to study the nation’s people, history and language increased Jackson’s sensitivities about different cultures. The group built eco-friendly and energy efficient wood stoves for 40 indigenous families.
In January, Jackson traveled to Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Assisting the medical team, she helped the nurse practitioner dig an enormous seed out of a toddler’s nose. The local hospital couldn’t help the child. “I learned a lot about patience that day,” says Jackson.
Cross-cultural experiences are especially useful for business students, according to Jackson: “Today, our graduates deal with business people of many different cultures. The world has shrunk. Our students need to be open to new ideas, thoughts and cultures.”
Choosing Differently in Today’s Business World
Service-learning and cross-cultural experiences challenge the students’ perception of the world and of themselves and in some cases, impact their career choices. Whether it’s working with women in India to help them become self-sufficient, or arranging microfinancing for Ugandans starting small businesses, both in school and after graduation, SWSB students are choosing to make a difference in people’s lives.
As a business school, “we continue to ask ourselves ‘What have we been doing to produce managers that ask themselves the right questions and make the right decisions, not based simply on legalities, but on ethics? What can we do better?’”
Combining Service, Business and Community Outreach
Student-run projects, like those in the Enactus program, provide opportunities to gain leadership skills while giving back to the community. An international organization that connects business leaders and students in community outreach projects, Enactus thrives at SU.
“Giving back is a part of how we as a people grow,” says Jackson. “Like they say: ‘To those whom much is given, much is expected.’”
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