Global Food Festival 2016

Organized by the Global Business and Culture Club (GBCC), with support from the Center for Global Initiatives, the Global Food Festival (GFF) has evolved to be one of the most anticipated events at Darden each year. Roshini Rajan (Class of 2017), the President of the Global Business and Culture Club shared, “GFF is an amazing platform for Darden students to come together and celebrate the different cultures of our global community. It’s always wonderful to see the ethnic diversity at Darden showcased through food, performances and traditional costumes.”

This year, the 28th Global Food Festival took place on Sunday 18 September, and over 500 people attended. These people included Darden students, faculty, and staff, as well as their family and friends. The festival featured food tasting, multi-cultural activities, and cultural performances, which showcased international cultures and cuisines.

Students presented their cultures through tables of food from around the world, and also performed on stage with songs, dance, as well as traditional dress. Food from 22 different countries were found at the festival. The cultural performances featured African, Thai, Bhangra, Bollywood dance, musical performances from Kazakhstan, China, India, and a special performance from Darden’s very own musical band: SoundDarden.

Trisha Hongcharti, the Darden Center for Global Initiatives Global Programs Associate commented, “Ever since I started working at Darden, I’d heard that I had to go to the Global Food Festival. This was my first year at the Global Food Festival and I already can’t wait for next year. Too much food, not enough stomach.”

While all cuisines were delicious and carefully prepared, this year, the judges (a select group of faculty and staff) declared Desi Noise (Team India) the winner and Brazilian Storm (Team Brazil) won the popular vote.

Photos all courtesy of Manish Singh Rathaur (Class of 2017).

Global Food Festival 2016

Global Food Festival 2016

Desi Noise

Desi Noise

Brazilian Storm

Brazilian Storm

Darden Africa Business Organization at the Global Food Festival

Darden Africa Business Organization at the Global Food Festival




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Atthur Fattah on Leading Darden’s Middle East and Islamic Student Association

Atthur Fattah (Class of 2017) hails from Jakarta, Indonesia where he completed his undergraduate work in Industrial Engineering at Gadjah Mada University. Atthur first heard about Darden through his colleague while he was working in Bank Mandiri, a commercial bank in Indonesia, and decided to come because of the case study method, the welcoming and open community, and strong alumni network.   As the President of Darden’s Middle East and Islamic Student Association (MEISA), Atthur works with all Darden student organizations to enrich Darden community’s experience in cultural diversity and global business.


  • What is MEISA’s main objective at Darden?

MEISA’s main objective is to promote awareness and understanding about Middle Eastern and Islamic culture, particularly related to doing business with people from or in those communities.


  • Can you share a little bit about this young club’s history?

In 2014, then second-year student Catherine Manfre, co-Chair of the Diversity Student Advisory Group felt there was a need for an affinity club at Darden for people from Middle Eastern and Islamic backgrounds. She got together with  then first year students Zeeshan Hafeez, Saad Qureshi and Ofer Baratz to organize MEISA with a goal of promoting the culture and providing support for students. In 2014, they organized an Eid Cold Call as the first event. After much debate, the SY Presidents group approved MEISA’s provisional status to be a new club for the 2014-2015 year. In their first official year as a club, MEISA helped sponsor a number of events and activities on campus on top of the Cold Call including a panel on Race Relations after Ferguson, a series of Dialogues on Diversity, A First Coffee, a winning table at the International Food Festival, and received sponsorship from Microsoft for a Sales Workshop in D.C. All events were open to all Darden students. As they closed their first successful year, the original officers turned the club over to new leadership along with Karim Ginena, a PhD student, who has advised the club every year since its founding. Together, the new leadership team started the initiative to designate a multi-faith prayer space, which is now on the second floor of the library.


  • Tell us about some of MEISA’s upcoming events.

Charlottesville Mosque Open House

MEISA has coordinated with the local mosque in Charlottesville to host a free open house event on September 24, 2016. The Open House is an opportunity to welcome members of the Darden and Charlottesville community, show our three-level mosque, share knowledge about Islam and Muslims, and answer questions.

Diversity Week

MEISA, together with Darden Christian Fellowship (DCF), Darden Jewish Student Association (DJSA), and Darden Latter-Day Saint Student Association (LDSSA) are planning to participate in Diversity Week, which will occur in early October. Our participation will be in the form of a discussion panel or roundtables which are open to anyone interested in further discussion in religious inclusion in diversity.

Guest Speaker

Collaborating with Darden Executive Education and Global Business and Culture Club (formerly International Business Society), MEISA is planning to invite a CEO of a large corporation who is also an expatriate to share his professional journey and experiences. This event is expected to be towards the end of October 2016.


  • What is your vision for MEISA’s growth and impact in the years to come?

I would like to see MEISA not only function as a community, but also to help students who are interested in recruiting in the Middle East.  This might be in collaboration with the  Career Development Center to invite more companies to recruit Darden students to their Middle East office or a job trek to Middle East.

I have also a vision that MEISA is not only for students, but also for faculty and staff who are interested in knowing more about the region and its culture and Islam. Academically, I think it would be great for MEISA to help write a case related to doing business in Middle East. Finally, we would like to continue working together with other Darden student organizations to enrich Darden community’s global experience.


Atthur, and other MEISA members, at the Fall 2016 Darden Club Fair.

Atthur, and other MEISA members, at the Fall 2016 Darden Club Fair.

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Global Week School Photo

This morning, the Darden community gathered at First Coffee to celebrate the conclusion of a successful and fun Global Week. The nice thing is that global never ends at Darden!



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Global Week at Darden Kicks Off Today!

image1Global Week at Darden kicked off today with a special First Coffee, featuring remarks from Melissa Thomas-Hunt, Senior Associate Dean and Global Chief Diversity Officer, cupcakes, t-shirts, promotion of Darden Worldwide Courses, and a blackboard showcasing the diversity of Darden’s community.

Global Week runs through Wednesday 21 September and includes a variety of fun, culturally enriching activities, all student-led and organized. Highlights include the Latin American Student Association and Wine and Cuisine Club Cold Call tonight, the International Food Festival Sunday evening, the Asia Business Club of Darden Tea Tasting Event, a Bollywood Dance Class, and a European Beer and Wine Tasting next week.





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Preparing for an International Career in Consulting with the Darden MBA

Watch Yolanda Fan (MBA ’16) and Nada Chaker (MBA ’17) describe the ways in which their experiences at Darden have prepared them to do consulting work around the world.

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Leadership in the 21st Century and Global Forces: Dominic Barton, McKinsey

This week, the Darden Leadership Speaker Series kicked off with a talk by Dominic Barton, Global Managing Partner of McKinsey & Company.  For a full bio, please see McKinsey’s website.

Dean Scott Beardsley introduced Dominic to a crowd of students, faculty and staff in the packed Abbott Auditorium.

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Ngozi Ofoche Shares Global Consulting Project Experience

Watch Ngozi (Class of 2016) talk about her experience working with a client in Nairobi, Kenya, and how it prepared her for her career.

Learn more about Ngozi’s global experiences at Darden by reading this blog post, which also touches on her time in Brazil and Israel with Darden faculty.

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Scholar Showcase: Alexander Kaps

By Courtney ZerrennerAlexander Kaps Passfoto

Alexander Kaps (Class of 2017) studied business at WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management in Germany and completed a semester exchange program at Washington University of St. Louis before coming to Darden. He  spent this summer interning in Operations with Amazon in Texas.

Alexander knew from his semester in the United States several years ago that “American universities treat their students more like customers, not like livestock.” When Alexander graduated with his bachelors in Germany, he wanted to immediately pursue an MBA in the United States. He just did not know where he should go. Alexander explained that after his results from the GMAT were published, Darden contacted him directly and then put him in touch with a current student, who made all the difference.

“That student happened to be in my town in Germany for a small classical music festival. It was a magical moment for me that out of all the places in the world a Darden student was able to meet with me in my little city when I was trying to decide whether I should come. His name was Alvaro and within 30 minutes, he sold me completely on the Darden School.” Alexander moved to Charlottesville only a few months later.

During his first year at Darden, Alexander learned from his learning team. “My learning team mates were very diverse in character, in career goals, in learning styles, and in prior experience. Having us all on one team taught us so much, and we became invested in each other’s successes. We really helped each other with assignments, especially during recruiting season, and we built a group of friends – a community.”

While Alexander is “allergic to clichés and virtue signaling,” he asserted that “people really are the reason that I’m at Darden. Universities no longer have the corner on the market on knowledge or education. But with Darden, you get access to the greater Darden community. These people have incredible business connections, but they are interested in you, the human, not the student and not the future employee. I think that is very unique. Darden is unlike any other university I’ve been at before, and I’ve been at four . . . I cannot imagine a better support network both personally and professionally at any other business school.”

The experience Alexander had at Washington University was very different from his Darden experience. Alexander felt that “there was a clear line between international students and the American students when I did undergraduate exchange. Alexander was happy that “luckily, that is not the case at all at Darden. I feel very integrated; I don’t feel any different than any of the other students. I was promised that would be the case, and it was 100% correct.”

After Alexander graduates from Darden in May 2017, he wants to work for a large US cooperation for several years, gaining experience and expertise in business management. Following that time, Alexander hopes to start his own business. “I do not aspire to be the next Jeff Bezos, rather would I simply do something I am passionate about, but then again that’s how many big companies began. One way or the other, I would like to end up in the firearms or shooting sports industry, because that is what I truly am passionate about. I did not come here from Germany to become rich and famous, even though Darden certainly offers you that path if you’re interested. I came because I wanted the option to live and work in the United States, and there is no better way in my opinion than studying at a world class university like UVA and a top notch business school like Darden.”

Alexander has also considered returning to Europe and living in Czech Republic, where some of his family is from. Although he does not speak Czech at this point, he is sure he could pick it up in a year or so. “The Czech Republic is a beautiful country and like many European countries the society is very close knit, after being forged together through many decades of foreign imposed communism. People often spend their entire lives in their place of birth, which provides you with a close-knit community of people like Darden has provided me with. Czechs are also very freedom loving people. The 15% flat rate tax is another reason I want to move there (laughs).” Regardless of whether he will decide to stay in the United States, or return to Europe Alexander believes that “the support network of Darden, as well as the Darden brand will help me achieve those goals.”

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Darden Welcomes Fall 2016 Exchange Students

This fall semester, Darden is hosting exchange students from leading partner business schools. We are delighted to welcome students from the following schools/countries:

  • CEIBS in China
  • ESADE and IESE in Spain
  • HEC in France
  • HIT in Japan
  • HKUST in Hong Kong
  • IPADE in Mexico
  • MBS in Australia
  • University of St. Gallen in Switzerland

These exchange students will take various Second Year courses and be active participants Darden’s community and many co-curricular activities.  We are thrilled to have them at Darden!



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Darden Student Interns with Accenture on Clean Water Project in Ghana

Headshot_ Jocelyn RechtBy Courtney Zerrenner

Jocelyn Recht (Class of 2017) spent her summer in Accra, Ghana working as the Summer Strategy Consultant for Accenture Development Partnerships Originally from California, Jocelyn attended Colgate University in upstate New York for Economics and Sociology, graduating in 2010. She spent the next five years living in Washington DC working first for Edelman Intelligence, the market research arm of Edelman public relations, and then for the Advisory Board Company, a best practices consulting firm focused on health care and higher education.

What inspired you to attend business school, specifically Darden?
During my time at the Advisory Board, I had a lot of exposure to the Corporate Strategy and New Product Development groups and was very interested in their work. I realized pretty quickly that a lot of the roles I was interested in required an MBA and strategy/management consulting experience. I began looking into business schools and was drawn to Darden because if its undeniable sense of community, which is critical when building your network at business school, and its use of the case method – after being out of school for several years, I felt the case method was a more engaging classroom experience and, as someone who is not always the first to speak up, I felt it would be helpful to force me to get into the conversation.

What are your future goals after Darden?
I plan to work in consulting after Darden. I am interested in the variety of work experience that consulting allows in terms of both industry and function. Already during my internship, I have been surprised by all the things I never thought I would be learning about i.e. Ghanaian cultural norms, water treatment infrastructure, microbiology and chemical treatments.

What prompted you to pursue working in Ghana for Accenture?
After I received my internship offer from Accenture Strategy, I was invited to apply to their international development program – a part of Accenture Development Partnerships (ADP) – which is available to two MBA interns every year. I have always been interested in development work and am a big traveler, so this seemed like the perfect option for me to get experience working internationally, which I’m not sure when I’ll have the chance to do again.

I ended up receiving the internship offer from ADP and was placed in Ghana on a clean water project. I was a part of a small team working with a German Life Sciences company who is partnering with a Ghanaian water utility company, as well as other water experts. Together, the partnership aims to improve drinking water quality and, ultimately, contribute to improved health outcomes in a local community through analytical testing, enhanced equipment and testing kits, infrastructure improvements, and awareness programs.

What does a typical day at your internship look like?
My Accenture team was quite small – just myself and a Business Strategy Manager – which allowed us to work very closely with our Life Sciences client from their office in Accra. A typical day involves project management duties and stakeholder management, facilitating meetings and check-ins with our local clients in Ghana, international clients in the US and Germany, as well as representatives from the local water utility company, and partners in Europe, to ensure that the project is on track.

How has Darden and your internship helped prepare you for your future professional goals?
Darden’s use of the case method and learning team has prepared me well for a career in consulting by teaching me to dive in – often without complete information – and to work well in team settings.

In what ways have you become involved in the Darden and Charlottesville community?
Darden is very much a student-driven environment and, during my first year, I benefited from the involvement of my classmates and the help of second year students.  I am excited to be able to pay that forward this coming year. I will be serving as a Second Year coach to first years going through the internship recruitment process, and will serve as the VP of Admissions for the Graduate Women in Business club and the VP of Human Resources for the Community Consultants of Darden.

Could you share about what you’ve learned from your classmates all around the world?
With nearly 40% international students at Darden, I have enjoyed getting to know classmates from all over the world. In an increasingly connected world, it is hard to view any decision in a vacuum. Having classmates with a variety of different perspectives enhances classroom discussions and our ability to make informed decisions. Beyond the classroom, I have enjoyed hearing about classmates’ experiences, trying food from their home countries, and hopefully I might even be able to visit some of them in the future.

Can you tell me a little bit about your favorite experience at Darden?
My favorite thing about Darden is the close relationships you are able to form with people. Due to the structure of the program with section and learning team as well as the schedule with many hours spent on grounds, Darden enables you to form extremely close relationships with classmates extremely quickly.

Why have you chosen to pursue global experiences as a part of your Darden education?
I have made a point to pursue global experiences at Darden first and foremost because I love to travel. Being on the ground enhances your understanding of whatever topic you are studying and shapes your worldview in ways that you cannot necessarily experience in a classroom. With business becoming increasingly global in nature, I think it is important to seek out experiences that are different than what you are used to open yourself up to other perspectives that you may not have imagined on your own.

Jocelyn presents during a workshop in Accra this summer.

Jocelyn presents during a workshop in Accra this summer.

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