What started out as a small program to take students overseas to expose them to the political economy of a foreign country has matured into one of the most rewarding experiences students receive at Brandeis IBS. Senior Lecturer John Ballantine took over the program a few years ago and has seen it evolve into a structured and rigorous learning experience for the diverse and ever-growing class of Master of Science in Finance (MSF) students.
“In almost all cases, students tell us that the WFC immersion class is one of their best at Brandeis IBS,” said Ballantine. “They tell us that the experiential learning achieved is invaluable.”
This year, students traveled to Poland, a country with a complicated and tragic political history. With its population of 38.5 million people, Poland is the 34th most populous country in the world and sixth largest member of the European Union, which it joined in 2004. Its economy is considered to be one of the healthiest of the post-Communist countries and is currently among the fastest growing within the EU.
The trip included an in depth look into post-World War 2 Poland, as students visited the Warsaw Rising Museum –and a museum dedicated to the Warsaw Uprising of 1944—and spoke heard accounts of the war from survivors and historians. This experience especially resonated with Mangok Bol, MSF ’13: “As a South Sudanese having grown up through war for more than two decades, this was a memorable learning moment for me.”
Students spent six intensive days meeting with a broad cross section of bankers, economists, journalists, investors and students, in addition to taking tours of cultural sites. Their visits to Warsaw, Poland’s capital, and Krakow, the second largest city, gave them insight into the inner workings of the politics, culture and economy of the country.
MSF student Beth Fleitman says that the trip to Poland was not only culturally stimulating but also an invaluable addition to her coursework.
“The experience provided first-hand information from asset managers, consultants, economists and historians about conducting business in Poland,” she said. “This information simply could not have been obtained inside a classroom.”