Study Abroad in Panama

Study Abroad in Panama

RCB students explore supply chain, marketing and culture in Panama

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An immersive week abroad gave students in the Marketing, Supply Chain, and Management Information Systems program the chance to learn and live in Panama.

“Panama has a strategic importance for U.S. companies’ operations,” said professor of marketing Dr. Berrin Guner, who designed the program to further students’ academic and cultural knowledge. Nearly three-quarters of transits that pass through the Panama Canal either originate in or ultimately arrive in the United States, Guner explained.

From Jan. 3-10, Guner and associate professor of supply chain and logistics Dr. Saravanan Kuppusamy (SK)Group photo guided students through a series of site visits across Panama City, companies included Copa Airlines, 3M, and Panama Pacifico. Students viewed both the Atlantic and Pacific sides of the Panama Canal by visiting Agua Clara Locks and Miraflores Locks.

“The students experienced how a country markets itself and how supply chain operations affect marketing,” Guner said.

Kavin Haldo, a 19-year-old senior marketing major from Plainsboro, particularly enjoyed visiting the Balboa Port Company, where he boarded a cargo ship and watched cranes unload shipping containers.

“Throughout our visit, we learned about the multi-faceted nature of utilizing the Panama Canal for transportation purposes,” Haldo said. Because the man-made canal is engineered solely through the use of water displacement, “transporting the vessels happens without the use of energy,” Haldo said.

Among Cameron Wright’s favorite site visits was manufacturer 3M.

“3M has a huge product line, so it was cool to get an inside scoop on their operation and go into the plant,” said Wright, a senior marketing major and entrepreneurship minor from Cherry Hill.

Visiting these companies gave students the opportunity to apply the theoretical knowledge they learned in the classroom to real-world contexts.

Group photo“These transformative and transferable experiences demonstrate to potential employers that students possess valuable skills such as adaptability, cultural competence and global awareness,” Guner said.   

Wright plans to use what she learned in Panama in her future career.

“Getting to see different trends in how other countries do their marketing and advertising has expanded my horizon of what marketing and supply chain looks like,” she said.

The cultural experience of traveling abroad can be just as valuable for students as the academic and practical knowledge they gain. 

“Traveling abroad, in general, challenges students to step out of their comfort zones, fostering personal growth, resilience and adaptability as they navigate unfamiliar environments and cultural differences,” Guner said.

Megan Steckler, a senior marketing and entrepreneurship major from Mullica Hill who anticipates graduatinggroup photo in May, most enjoyed visiting the indigenous Emberá Village, where the group listened, learned, danced and swam with the tribe.

“It was an unforgettable experience, and I am grateful to have learned about and honored their culture for a day,” Steckler said.

For Wright, ziplining and visiting the sloth sanctuary in the Gamboa Sanctuary and Rainforest were among the highlights of the trip.

Other cultural sites RCB students visited during their trip included Panama’s natural history museum Biomuseo, the Causeway that connects four islands, and UNESCO World Heritage Sites Casco Viejo and Fuerte San Lorenzo.

“Our trip to Panama was a rewarding experience that gave us a closer look at the country's unique features,” said SK, noting the country’s beautiful natural landscape and pleasantly warm climate. “This trip helped us learn about Panama's geography, culture and history in a direct way.”