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International Business Program Welcomes Sister Cities Students

As part of a global partnership between Nashville and cities across the world, Belmont hosted four Argentinean students during an exchange program this month.

The students from Universidad de Cuyo in Mendoza, Argentina immersed in campus life for almost three weeks by attending classes on entrepreneurship, economics and Spanish as well as several convocation lectures, the Country Music Showcase and a Bruins basketball game. They also visited several  local companies like Nissan, Bridgestone Firestone, Cat Financial, Tennessee Bun Company, Bongo Java and met with Metro Councilman Fabian Bedne, an Argentine himself, and Mayor Karl Dean.

“The overall goal of their visit is for them to understand the business and entrepreneurial  environment in Nashville. All the companies they visited are recognized as successful, active corporate citizens in the city,” said Entrepreneurship and Management Instructor José D. González. “It is a great benefit to our students to have the opportunity to interact and make friendships with people from other countries. Programs like this directly links to our mission to help students develop into global citizens. It would not surprise me if business relationships develop from this program.”

The exchange program is part of a growing relationship between Belmont and Universidad de Cuyo as part of Sister Cities Nashville, an organization that connects Nashvillians with friends around the world through exchanges, cultural programs and partnerships. Nashville’s other Sister Cities include Edmonton, Alberta; Belfast, Northern Ireland; Caen, France; Magdeburg, Germany; and Tiyuan, China.

“Because these relationships are in place already, there are good opportunities for Belmont to tap into them. People in Nashville already have connections and interests in those cities, so Belmont can use those connections to leverage its programs,” González said.

In 2012, 10 Belmont students traveled to Argentina as part of an international entrepreneurship course offered during the Maymester. While there, the Belmont students worked with UnCuyo students  in cross-cultural teams on a business plan project.

“The power of study abroad programs is transformational, and the experience of being immersed in the culture and business environment of one of our partner universities is unparalleled. Having the Argentine students on our campus is a real treat. We hope they’re getting out of their experience as much as we got out of being in Mendoza last summer,” said Christina Wroten, a senior studying international business.

The UnCuyo students  also are living off-campus with Belmont students.

Mitchell Blom, a senior studying international business and Spanish, said, “It is fun to practice Spanish with Alejandro. He knows English better than I know Spanish. He is not just a tutor; he is someone I would look forward to visiting in Argentina. [This home-stay program] has helped me to learn and understand their language and also emphasized my desire to live in a Spanish-speaking country after graduation.”

Blom has showed his Argentinean guest around the honky tonks and popular eateries like Pharmacy Burger and the Loveless Café. “We as Belmont students hear so much about studying abroad, but the real value is the people and the exchange of history, lifestyles and perspectives of looking at the world,” Blom said.

International business professors Jeff Overby and Marieta Velikova along with González recently joined the Board of Directors of Sister Cities of Nashville. Belmont Health Services Director Katy Wilson previously served on the board. In 2010, she was part of Nashville’s Sister City delegation to Mendoza, Argentina and the city’s Mayor Victor Fayad’s visit to Nashville included a tour of Belmont’s College of Pharmacy.