Known for its majestic castles and cathedrals, the city of Prague is rich both in history and picturesque scenery.
But it was the central European city’s emerging economy that attracted a group of more than 30 Palm Beach Atlantic University students and faculty to the Czech Republic this summer.
Graduate and undergraduate students in PBA’s Rinker School of Business spent nine days in Prague during the school’s annual global business trip. This is the ninth international trip the school has taken overall and its second to the Czech Republic. The first PBA visit to Prague was in 2007.
During this year’s trip, the group visited six businesses, ranging from international database software developer Oracle to Beneš a Lát, a family-owned commercial foundry, and World Class Gym, a fitness center chain.
Their first visit was to the Civic Institute, an organization formed after the fall of communism in the former Czechoslovakia.
Many of the visiting students were still schoolchildren when the Czech Republic became an independent country in 1993 and joined the European Union a year later, said Professor of Business Dr. Ann Langlois, one of four faculty members who went on the trip.
“This was for students the first time they could see the legacy of communism and socialism,” Langlois said.
That legacy could be seen in both business and personal interactions, the travelers said. For instance, Czech people tend to be more reserved than Americans when talking about their personal lives, they said.
Also, business dealings generally are conducted in a more indirect manner than Americans are accustomed to, the students said.
Although they had spent the previous semester studying about the Czech Republic in advance of their trip, several students said they found the trip to be eye-opening.
“Overall I learned much more on this trip than I ever could have in a classroom setting or merely reading a book,” said senior international business major David Denton. “I feel like I have a better understanding not only of Czech culture but of eastern and western European culture as well.”
Another international business major, Amisha Shockency, noted that “this trip wasn’t simply a chance to travel and see the world, but a chance to grow and develop as a citizen of the world.”
In addition to the business site visits, the group went on cultural excursions to Ceský Krumlov, an historic city south of Prague, and to Vienna, Austria.
Following the trip, several students took part in a secondary trip to Budapest, Hungary.
Possible destinations for next year’s international business trip include Istanbul, Turkey or Dubai, United Arab Emirates.