The Balkans experience exposed many of us too several regions with rich cultural heritage and diverse landscapes in Greece, Kosovo, North Macedonia, and Albania. Part of the course was a group project and our group proposed mineral depletion in Albania and the prospects of exporting these valuable resources through the seaport of Piraeus, Greece. This class was not limited to this group project, as we also had the opportunity to visit and explore various businesses in all these regions, gaining valuable insights into their operations. This experience offered a comprehensive and hands-on understanding of the Balkans’ economic economy, cultural groups, and social norms. This trip provided me with personal growth and left a lasting mark on my understanding of these cultures.
One of the most intriguing aspects of this trip was the reflection of the group project. As we did research for this project, it was difficult to understand the ethical and environmental implications for this proposed business idea. After visiting Albania one of the biggest concerns for this type of operation would be contraband smuggling and the how to prevent such activities from occurring. First, strengthening the regulatory framework involving extraction, trade, and export would be crucial. This includes implementation of strict licensing, improving monitoring tools, and raising penalties for illegal activities. Secondly, enhancing border security, as Albania is not apart of the EU it would be difficult with to say that international communication and collaboration would be successful. Investing in these technologies and infrastructure at the border checkpoint would significantly deter smuggling. Technologies such as X-rays and imaging systems can help detect hidden materials and other illegals goods. While preventing contraband smuggling is a complex and challenging assignment requiring teamwork among various stakeholders, like government entities, law enforcement agencies, and local communities. The inclusion and communication between these communities will contribute to discouraging illegal activities.
Throughout our study abroad program, we were blessed to visit numerous businesses that showcased their operations on a day-to-day basis. Personally, what stood out the most to me were the smaller, home-owned businesses. The vineyard we visited in Greece impressed me the most on our trip. Committed to organic practices and community involvement, their business operations were remarkable and inspiring. Their passion for sustainable agriculture, maintaining dedicated employees, and empowering the local community to produce phyllo dough pies showcases the positive impact that a business can have. This business models and promotes the importance of responsible business practices and demonstrates that economic success is not always the most important reason for running a business.
Personally, my time spent on this study abroad in the Balkans was nothing short of incredible. Having two great professors, knowledgeable tour guides, and professional coach drivers contributed immensely to this excursion. There was a blend of warm hospitality from the communities we visited, breathtaking landscapes, and lots of education on ancient history. Additionally, being able to immerse ourselves in the local cultures varying from traditional foods, cultural festivities such as dancing, and something as simple as enjoying espresso while it rained made this trip both relaxing and informative. To finish up, my favorite experience was our stay in Valbonë, Albania. The guesthouse we stayed at was extremely welcoming; Sharing their customs, food, and family made the atmosphere very comforting. While our group meshed well from the beginning, I believe this part of the trip brought us all even closer.
In conclusion, our group project enabled us to dive into economic issues and sparked meaningful conversations about how we all would run a business in this part of the world differently. The business visits provide insights into the region’s entrepreneurial spirit and the way businesses perform differently than in America. My time spent in the Balkans and the relationships built on the trip will forever hold a special place in my memory. Traveling to these parts of the world with my family is on my list of things to do. I would love nothing more than to be able to share what I experienced with my friends and family. Top of Form
Chloe White (BS Accounting) spent spent part of May 2023 participating in a faculty-led trip to the Balkans through the Rollins College of Business. Chloe had the following to say about studying abroad, “Studying abroad is not just about academics; it is about forming lifelong friendships, creating lasting memories, and unearthing features of your own unique character and individuality.”
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