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Postcards from the edge of Spring Tour

A student and staff member give firsthand
accounts about the annual trip that offers
21 business majors a taste of the world

By Wayne R. Taylor ’05

How many students have the opportunity to spend their spring break traveling in Europe, staying in five-star hotels and dining at some of the world’s most exclusive restaurants? Ask the 21 Morehouse College students from the Business and Economics division who have a few new stamps in our passports.

The other students and I were guaranteed an all-expense paid trip to Greece and France as part of the annual Morehouse College Spring Tour. Part business and part cultural exchange, the excursion exposes participants to various multinational corporations, which allows students to develop a larger perspective of global economics and makes room for dialogue between cultures. Ironically, the most memorable conversations had nothing to do with business, but with different traditions intrinsic to each country.

Over a lunch of salmon and shrimp sandwiches, we discussed the merits of equality with Credit Suisse First Boston analysts at their France headquarters. They said that Parisians don’t focus on the issue of equal rights as much as Americans. They believe equal opportunities are given to everyone at birth—your success is up to you.

But many of us observed an office of white executives with the exception of one black man, Ladell Robbins, an investment banking associate who was born and educated in the U.S. and now works in the company’s London office. There was only one person of color. I wonder if they noticed it, too.

Wayne R. Taylor ’05 is a business management major who traveled to Europe as a member of the Spring Tour.

By Benjamin McLaurin ’69

After France, we left for Athens, Greece. The companies we visited in Athens—Johnson & Johnson, BP and Jansen Pharmaceutica—taught us the synergy between appreciating consumers and maintaining a brand. Johnson & Johnson sent a diversity representative with us who accompanied us (27 faculty, staff and students) throughout the tour. At oil company BP, everything from the logo to safety regulations go hand-in-hand with consumer valuation.

When we visited BP, Elena Spyropoulou, head of public relations, and a tour guide came to the hotel and picked us up. Our main destination was BP’s refinery, but Spyropoulou asked if we had explored Athens. We replied no and were whisked away on two-hour bus tour of Athens.

The Aegean Sea was phenomenal: such a beautiful shade of blue, it looked like the Greek flag. And as we rode we observed many houses in various stages of completion that dotted the landscape. The tour guide talked about how difficult it was to obtain housing and that Greeks borrow money for luxury items, not living expenses. With no home loan programs—a sharp contrast to the U.S.—Greeks save money and construct their houses bit by bit.

But while the Greeks may be frugal with their money, BP seemed to spare no expense on safety at their refinery. As we toured the building in bright yellow hardhats, we saw a counter that told us the day we toured the refinery was the 1,046th day without an accident. Green is heavily incorporated into BP’s logo because they want to remind their consumers how conscious they are about protecting the environment.

Now that it’s over, I hope the students have a better understanding of different cultures and people and know that what happens on the other side of the world can affect you the same day.

Benjamin McLaurin ’69, who has been at Morehouse College for 36 years, is the director of the Career Services for the Division of Business & Economics.

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