By: Jessica Knutzon, Features Editor
It is a Friday night and I am sipping on Pisco Sours and chatting about Machu Picchu at a small pub in Cuzco with upwards of 20 Thunderbirds. I took a moment to relish in how lucky I am to be experiencing such an incredible trip but even more so how lucky I am to be part of a network of friendly people who live for getting to know every nook and cranny of the world. Two Winterim groups were in Peru at the same time and of course took advantage to take a weekend trip away from Lima. This was the icing on the cake, but the two weeks that preceded were a great introduction to what it would be like to work in Latin America.
A group of 20 Thunderbird students embarked on a Winterim that took place for one week in Santiago, Chile, and one week in Lima, Peru, with Professor Nelson. The Latin American region consists of several emerging markets all at different stages of economic development. In the 1990s Chile transitioned from a dictatorship to a democracy and has become a leading economic power in the region. Peru has had its political struggles but in recent years has experienced solid economic growth making it one of the fastest growing economies in the region. Each country has succeeded in years past for different reasons, which made for a unique learning experience for students on the trip.
Students visited a variety of businesses and met with alumni who work in virtually every sector. In Chile, for example, students visited Codelco, which is a government-owned copper mining business. In a country where the economy depends on copper mining, it exposed students to the unique Chilean economic situation Chile and what challenges lay ahead for the business and the nation as a whole. On the other hand, the visit to Pfizer in Chile, with the highest sales per capita in Latin America, proved that other industries are strong and the economy is stable.
In Peru students visited several multinational companies, such as Kimberly Clark and Johnson & Johnson that are experiencing growth and prosperity unseen in recent years. To shed more light on the growing economy, the students’ final visit was to a local chocolate maker who through a women’s initiative program has started her small business at her home. During the discussion about her business, students were excitedly coming up with marketing and expansion ideas. The excitement was contagious and it ended the Winterim on an appropriate note of the growth and potential of Latin America.
The Thunderbird Mystique is alive and well. Knowing we can always depend on each other for someone to visit at all ends of the world is the one of the greatest gifts Thunderbird can give us. But perhaps more invigorating than this is the Thunderbird enthusiasm for business growth and possibilities for every nation. This Winterim was an introduction to a career so many Thunderbirds look forward to promoting economic growth, world travel and prosperity.