Trip to Germany 'builds relationships'
Seventeen MBA students visited Germany for 10 days this spring, getting an insider's look into business, culture, and the condition of modern Germany.
It was an "insider's" look because their guides were Dr. Dietrich Schaupp and Dr. Christian Schaupp, professors of management and accounting, respectively. They know Germany because Dietrich was born there and Christian studied there several times and has traveled extensively through Europe.
"I think truly the most enjoyable thing about this trip was being there with Dietrich and Christian Schaupp and the faculty of the Fulda University of Applied Sciences," said Dan Kimble of Charleston, who received his MBA in early July. "They made you more than a tourist. You got to understand some of the history of locations from perspective of someone within the country."
Kimble, who is an attorney in West Virginia state government, said he had always viewed the history of Germany from an American perspective. Seeing it in from the viewpoint of Germans was "eye opening," he said.
"Christian and Dietrich truly make this experience something that is not a two-week tour," he said. "It's like moving to Germany. We had lots of late night conversations among the students and faculty that were so interesting that, even though it was late, no one wanted to leave. It was an incredibly personal experience."
The College of Business and Economics formed an international relationship with the Fulda University of Applied Sciences almost a decade ago. Fulda graduate students attend a semester in Germany and then WVU for eight months to earn dual degrees from the United States and Germany.
Students in the master's program at the College of Business and Economics can visit Fulda during May to be exposed to the politics, government and culture of Germany, the largest economy in the European Union. The trip is the culmination of the spring semester international business course. Dietrich Schaupp, who recently retired, developed and encouraged this program and much of the relationship with Germany.
Located just northeast of Frankfurt in the heart of Germany, Fulda University of Applied Sciences has more than 5,500 students, of which approximately 1,000 are business students. The school also has an international exchange relationship with an institution in France.
"The take-home for students is that they won't have any intimidation about going to another country," said Christian Schaupp. "Additionally, they build relationships that last long beyond the trip. Our goal is to get our students to the point where they could go back to Germany and work and live seamlessly. If we've accomplished that, then we have attained our goal. This happens almost all the time."
This spring the students met with a top executive from ALDI Einkauf GmbH & Co., better known as Aldi, and visited a manufacturer of thermostats, an Amazon distribution center, and salt mines near Berlin.
Garrett Harper, who earned an undergraduate degree in accounting from Ohio Valley University in 2011, also received his WVU MBA in July and has a job with a firm in Parkersburg, W.Va. He said his experience in Germany was stimulating.
"The amount of stuff we got to see and do was truly amazing," he said. "We were busy from the minute we landed, packing in as much as we could in 10 days— from Berlin to Fulda and everything in between. Both of the Schaupps knew where we were going and gave us the insider's scoop."
Kimble said he has already begun to apply some of the ideas he assimilated in Germany into his job as a manager back home in Charleston. "This trip truly did add value," he said. "I've already started to implement some of the management scenarios in my role of helping people become better supervisors."
He added that he gave high marks to the German faculty for their part in the program. "I can't say enough about the people from Fulda," he said. "In Amsterdam, which is about an hour from Fulda, one evening the dean of the business school came to join us for dinner. It was delightful and an example of how their faculty made a point to give us their time."
Georgia Boyd of South Charleston said Germany reminded her of West Virginia. "There were many bus trips that seemed as though we were traveling through rural West Virginia rather than Europe," she said. "When we arrived, the students and staff of the university in Fulda were so welcoming and went out of their way to make us feel at home. What surprised me most was how similar some of Germany's geography was to West Virginia's.
But when she started seeing castles at Rothenburg, she knew she wasn't in the United States.
"It was the first time where I really thought 'wow, I'm really not home anymore,'" said Boyd, who received an undergraduate degree in accounting in 2011 and an MBA in July. "The architecture was incredible and unlike anything I'd ever seen. We spent the first part of the day exploring the tourist attractions and the second part enjoying the local restaurants and bakeries. The Germany trip was very rewarding for me, and I enjoyed the opportunity to experience the people, history, and foods of a new culture."