For the sixth consecutive year at UNCG, Associate Vice Chancellor of Economic Engagement Bryan Toney is coordinating a short-term international student exchange with a university in Belgium, and a record number of students are participating.
During Spring Break UNCG students and their UNCG instructor, Dr. Nir Kshetri, will visit the Louvain School of Management (LSM), which has been ranked No. 4 in the world for its entrepreneurship program. The following week, Belgian students from the LSM will be in Greensboro. Throughout the exchanges, the 19 UNCG students will collaborate with the 21 LSM students on business plan projects.
In Greensboro, the visiting Belgian students will, as Toney says, “gain insights into the American economy and in particular the startup ecosystem in a typical mid-sized American city.” They’ll tour HQ Greensboro, the Forge and UNCG’s Greensboro Project Space, as well as several local businesses.
“Too often, Europeans only see our big cities like New York or tourism areas and don’t get to experience the ‘real America,’ says Toney. “This course does just that.”
While in Belgium, the UNCG students will meet Belgian entrepreneurs and visit the Greensboro Center for Creative Leadership’s Brussels office. They’ll also see a local business incubator, and a startup brewery, which was founded by a previous participant in the program.
This program is now in its tenth year–the first four years were at Appalachian State where Toney worked previously. With his Belgian colleague, Dr. Frank Janssen, Toney started the program so that students could have an international entrepreneurship experience that is also academic and part of a semester course. Through the exchange, he says that students learn how to work on teams with people from other countries, and they form long-lasting friendships with students from the other side of the world. Toney has kept the costs for the students low, scheduling the trips during a low travel season and having students host one another in their homes.
He says, “A specific goal we have at UNCG is to provide opportunities students who may not otherwise get a chance to study abroad.”
By Susan Kirby-Smith, University Communications