This post was written by current second year student Anders Hvelplund of the International Business Society.


One of the recurring themes in our student feedback surveys has revolved around the desire for an even more global educational experience. Fortunately, our leadership, with the Dean in front, is taking this feedback very seriously. This strong focus aside, there is no denying that a big part of the responsibility for making these improvements lies with us, the students.

At Darden we have such an amazingly diverse student body already. We literally have people from all over the world. While we all benefit from our interactions in the formal settings we have here (such as classrooms, learning teams, and conferences), we could arguably get even better in socializing across cultures. That is not necessarily an easy process. It is very human to get together with people that are similar to yourself rather than exploring new territory. Coming from a very small minority at Darden, namely Scandinavia, I have had what I now deem to be the luxury of not having a “comfortable home base” in which to make friends. As a consequence, I now have a very diverse set of friends spanning most of our globe. This group is one of the things, if not the one thing, I treasure most from my Darden experience.

That said there is always room to improve and learn even more. As I stated in an earlier blog post, there really is no substitute for private initiative. This year I’ve had the pleasure in partaking in one of these. Two of my good friends from Panama and Nepal and I decided to commit to a weekly initiative from the beginning of our second year, which we call ‘international lunch’. The concept is simple. We set up a weekly lunch in which we invite people (1) from regions or countries that we have limited knowledge of and (2) that we didn’t know well personally before the lunch. It has been a great experience so far. People have been very receptive and we have now made new connections with people from countries such as Russia, Nigeria, Ghana, China, and most recently The Philippines. It is only when you sit down with people from such different places that you realize how incredibly much we can learn from each other and how different circumstances we have grown up under.

In the International Business Society we just recently launched a new initiative in a similar vein to facilitate more cross-cultural interaction (it’s all about the food). Our new initiative is to expand upon the annual International Food Festival and set up and finance smaller dinners with hosts and guests from all over the world. We recently had our first dinner hosted by Nuno Carepa, one of the winners of last year’s IFF from Portugal. We had a great night and look forward to many more in the future.

We hope that all of you will help us by being active in these activities and by taking other small steps in making Darden an even more global experience.

Have a great spring!!!!

Anders Hvelplund
International Business Society