In the late winter of 2020, Dr. Brandon Di Paolo Harrison, Austin Peay State University assistant professor of accounting, began narrowing down the busy itinerary for his summer trip to South America.
Specifically, he planned to spend a month in Rosario, one of the largest port cities in Argentina, and he wanted his students to make the most of the APSU College of Business’ inaugural study abroad trip to that country.
That February, he spoke in a relaxed, jovial tone about the upcoming visit, exposing his students to a culture he knew and loved. Then on Friday, March 6, 2020, Di Paolo Harrison received an urgent, campus-wide email announcing “a moratorium on University-related international travel.” Within a month, the COVID-19 lockdown began, forcing more than 3 billion people to stay in their homes.
“The pandemic canceled the trip,” Di Paolo Harrison, his voice a little less cheerful, said. “It canceled it two years in a row.”
After those two, long years, most people would have abandoned their hopes for organizing such an ambitious trip, but in May 2022, the APSU College of Business made its first historic journey to the southern hemisphere. That month, 10 APSU students took classes with Di Paolo Harrison at the Universidad del Centro Educativo Latinoamericano campus while also exploring the business, cultural and tourist sites of Argentina.
“We worked it where they could tour the stock exchange in Rosario and meet the administrators there,” Di Paolo Harrison said. “One of the largest insurance conglomerates in South America, La Segunda, we got to tour their campus. And the students were able to go to the Iguazu Falls (the largest waterfall system in the world) and go to Patagonia to the glaciers.”
The students lived with host families during their stay, and they spent the month in classes, discussing supply chain issues with executives, taking Tango lessons, learning how to make empanadas and developing Spanish language skills. And most of the trip – aside from a few meals and souvenirs – was free, thanks to grants and scholarships provided by the University and the College of Business.
“Our mission is to take students beyond the textbook,” Di Paolo Harrison said. “Studying abroad takes them and gives them access to people and places they won’t normally have access to.”
Di Paolo Harrison and the College of Business are gearing up for a second trip to Argentina from May 10-June 11. Information on that trip is available at https://www.apsu.edu/business/students/educational-experiences/studyabroad.php.