by Kelly Webber, Summer Director

Studying business at Messiah College has a variety of options, with everything from a Spanish Business minor to a Chinese Business major. Every summer, International Business majors travel the globe on the International Business Institute.

Senior International Business Major and Student Body President Todd Abbott is currently in China on IBI. He chose to be an International Business major because Messiah offers such a unique business program that encourages students to be globally engaged.

Todd reminisced on why he declared his major: “I knew that I had a general interest in business…. When I heard about the international spin with this study abroad program at Messiah, and the chance to double it with politics, I finally had a path that I knew would fit my interests and keep me on my toes.”

Although IBI pictures look amazing on Instagram, what you don’t see is the intensity of the business program and hard work of each student. Mornings consist of five hours in the classroom followed by an afternoon corporate visit and evening cultural excursion.

“Though challenging, our classes have been an invaluable accompaniment to the real-world experience and cultural awareness that we’re gaining. Whether it’s studying Soviet history with the Kremlin right outside the window or engaging in marketing ethnography from the base of the Eiffel Tower, there are some lessons that simply can’t be learned to the same extent from a classroom in Grantham.”

So far, IBI students have ventured to Lithuania, Latvia, Russia, Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, France, England, and India. They are currently in China and will end in Dubai and Abu Dhabi of the United Arab Emirates.

“Cultural challenges do abound but are often the most educational and important lessons for us to learn. Though language barriers and differences in styles of dress are the most immediately observable, the most valuable insights that I’ve found have all been in deeper conversations and immersion. Hearing local Mumbai students speak to their experience with the caste system and service-orientation of their families, talking with German Christians about overcoming the heinous past actions of their country, and passing through a Chinese marriage market where parents come to advertise their children for potential suitors are three instances that come first to mind.”

Some of Todd’s highlights so far include St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow, the Shanghai skyline, the Taj Mahal, and the mountain peak of Hafelekarspitze in the Austrian Alps. “For me, the most rewarding days of the program were both found in rural India. Visiting a small village women’s group who shared their microfinance story and spending an afternoon with children from the local orphanage are both experiences that will stick with me for life.”

This upcoming school year, Todd will serve as SGA President of Messiah College. After graduating, his future is looking bright.

“I know that these experiences will serve invaluably as I approach any career with a global perspective in mind. I’ve been particularly intrigued by a trio of U.S. State Department diplomats that we’ve had the pleasure to interact with, and it can never hurt to aim high, right? No matter the case, I certainly hope to pursue a field that includes some levels of intercultural engagement and perhaps travel, but I will be happy to serve in whatever plan God has for my life.”