In February, 22 Eller students, most of them honors students and all studying entrepreneurship, touched down at the Haneda Airport in Tokyo, Japan. Over the next seven days, they embarked on an exploration of the country’s business and culture as part of the Kakehashi Project, a highly selective program of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs aimed at promoting a better understanding of Japan and its people.
In addition to an opinion exchange forum with students from Waseda University—a prestigious, private research university in Tokyo’s bustling Shinjuku ward—the group was welcomed into a range of businesses across Tokyo, Kobe and Osaka: MOBIO, a business information center supporting local manufacturers; AOKI, an intentionally small business that manufactures airplane parts; Kobe Shu-shin-kan Breweries, a family-run sake brewery established in 1751; and global electronics giant Panasonic.
Eller was one of 11 U.S. schools selected for the 2018 program, following application to the program by Carlos Alsua, academic director and senior lecturer of international management and global entrepreneurship in Eller’s McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship. Alsua pursued the competitive opportunity as a way to make study abroad more accessible to high-performing entrepreneurship students, regardless of personal circumstances.
“Most of the business decisions we make have global ramifications, even if you’re just an entrepreneur with one small business,” explained Alsua, who accompanied students on the trip, along with Anne Stringfellow, senior lecturer in entrepreneurship and innovation. “How can we say we’re delivering a global education if we don’t expose them to the world? And even though this trip was only nine days, at the end of it, the world had opened up so much for these students.”