SGU/AU Partnership – A Remarkable Experience


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Dr. Reccia Charles, Associate Professor and Program Coordinator of the Department of Business, is the person responsible for initiating contact with AU to form the partnership. She comments: “In observing Krystle after her return, I can see a transformation in her outlook on the world as well as an increase in her overall confidence. Her confidence increased for four reasons: WSP allows students to research a specific topic, network with leaders and experts in their respective fields, engage in international travel and build friendships with other college students, which increases a student's enthusiasm in their education. I am very proud of Krystle's success.”

The WSP’s very intense schedule included presentations from over 50 guest speakers, including Krystle’s now favourite author Thomas Freidman who wrote the book The Lexus and the Olive Tree. Students got the opportunity to visit and speak to representatives from several places: in Washington, Capitol Hill and Library of Congress, Embassy of the Sultanate of Oman, the World Bank and IMF, the Federal Reserve and the Newseum; in New York, Google’s Administration Office, the New York Stock Exchange and Goldmans Sachs; in Beijing, Peking University, Hyundai and IDC China; in Shanghai, AutoDesk (the company which produces AutoCad), and in Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Krystle volunteered at the Annual Global Services Summit and interned at the Centre for Social Leadership. Overall, the experience has been very rewarding for her.

Dr. Charles also offered some insight into study abroad programs for local students: “The vast majority of our students, because we recruit them at such a young age, are reluctant to take advantage of year-long or half-a-year-long study abroad opportunities for several reasons, including strong family ties, financial need, and socially conservative values. The families of some students are often reluctant to allow their children to study abroad or travel much on their own or with peers. The Washington Semester Program offers a compromise that is acceptable to some of these parents, especially when the deal is sweetened with generous financial aid. This gives students an opportunity they might not have otherwise had to expand their horizons.”

St. George’s University began partnering with American University in 2009 and is the only university in the Caribbean, apart from Puerto Rico, to be part of this affiliation. The next batch of students is carded to go to Washington in Fall 2011 and in April, an information session will be held via video conference with the directors of the Washington Semester Program who will answer any questions students may have regarding the program. Krystle’s advice to the upcoming WSP students is: “be prepared for a difference”.