“This is an advanced business elective,” Jones said. “The subject matter addresses the free trade agreement between the two countries, which has been in the works for years, but has just passed in the United States. My students have been researching this topic all semester. They will interact with their counterparts at the Universitaria, who have been researching the same topic throughout their college careers. My students and the Colombian students will have a roundtable discussion/debate on the agreement.”
Throughout the semester, Jones’ students have interacted with the Colombian students through video conferencing. Adam Porche, a senior from Lafayette, is looking forward to meeting those students in person.
“It’s such a big move both academically and personally,” Porche said. “I’m most excited about meeting the students. It’s going to be interesting to interact with students my age who are doing the same thing as me and learn how they live their college experience.”
The class sparked Porche’s interest in international commerce as he and classmates studied exchange rates, business practices and other aspects of international trade. The debates will also be a highlight.
“We’ll hear their views and they’ll hear our views and we’ll talk about trade restrictions and how it affects the economies of both our countries,” he said.
While in Cartagena, Jones and Abney plan to sign an agreement on behalf of Northwestern State with the Universitaria to offer dual enrollment classes for the Colombian students and develop exchange opportunities for students at both universities. They also plan to meet with officials at the Univesidad Libre, Sede Cartagena.
The majority of the funding for student airfare was raised through donations, with housing and meals provided by the Universitaria Tecnologico Comfenalco. Jones said not only would he like to offer this course every fall, but would like to host a contingency of Colombian students at Northwestern State every spring.
“Studying abroad as an undergraduate was one of the best experiences of my life, so I hope this develops into a strong program to provide students with an international learning experience,” Jones said.