During the week of April 14-22, 2023, a group of eight students and two coordinators visited partner Marquette University in Milwaukee (WI) for a reciprocal visit. The trip was part of a joint semester course, which has been organized since 1996.
The trip of the Czech group to the state of Wisconsin followed the visit of American students to Pilsen in March. This time the roles were reversed, and the students of FEK ZČU went for nine days across the ocean, where a busy program awaited them.
During the first two days, the students had the opportunity to get to know the city of Milwaukee as part of their acclimatization, walked along the shore of Lake Michigan, and tasted some of the local specialties, such as fried fish, various types of hamburgers, cheeses or beer from local breweries. The American state of Wisconsin was the destination of emigrants, mainly from Germany and the Netherlands, in the waves of migration during the 18th and 19th centuries. The cuisine of these nations left its mark here. The group spent their Sunday already at the College of Business Administration at Marquette University, where the participants presented the results of their semester projects, which they had been working on since January of this year. The Czech-American teams' projects were devoted to the post-covid era, specifically to the challenges companies and society face in education, hospitality, modern technologies, or logistics. Finally, they visited a local Milwaukee Admirals hockey game.
On Monday, a trip to the neighboring state of Illinois followed. Our team had the unique opportunity to visit the Consulate General of the Czech Republic in Chicago and meet with Consul General Jaroslav Kantůrek and his deputy Ondřej Pometlo. They talked about their professional journey to the USA, Czech culture, its representation in Chicago, or traditional events in which they participate. They also learned many interesting things; for example, you can buy a lot of Czech products and food in America, but you must bake Czech bread.
"Within this program, we gained invaluable experience," says FEK student Daniela Šedivcová. "We met an awesome group of people, got to know their somewhat different culture, and visited several interesting places. A visit to the Consulate General in Chicago was certainly a highlight of the week together, as students rarely get such an opportunity. I take away unforgettable experiences from the program," she adds.
During the following days, the students completed other exciting activities and meetings. They attended a lecture on the American political system, viewed an exhibition dedicated to the writer J.R.R. Tolkien, and personally met with other representatives of Marquette University and the former American ambassador to the Czech Republic, Rick Graber. The program also included an excursion to the headquarters of Johnson Controls, which specializes in finding innovations and smart solutions and supporting smart and sustainable buildings. At the end of the week, there was also a visit to the Harley Davidson Museum.
"This course is the result of long-term cooperation between our faculty and the College of Business Administration," explains Jiří Preis, FEK's vice dean for internationalization and external relations. "Several dozen students from both countries who went through it during that time gained key skills and experience, especially thanks to its content, a combination of a joint study of a selected Czech-American topic, lectures, and excursions. It is no coincidence that even after many years, when asked what they like to remember about their studies, they often mention participation in projects with students from Marquette University."
Cooperation between FEK ZČU and the College of Business Administration at Marquette University will continue. Not only is it planned to prepare another semester course for the next academic year, but we also want to develop reciprocal internships for students of master's and doctoral study programs. As part of such expanding cooperation, one FEK student went to Marquette University for a two-month internship in the second half of April. He will work on his diploma thesis with a Czech-American theme.