The BCom Honours (Marketing Management) students at the University of Pretoria were treated to a once-in-a-lifetime experience – a collaboration with a group of international students during their Marketing of Services class. The Department of Marketing Management and Rutgers University (in Camden, New Jersey) have enjoyed a long-standing relationship. Rutgers University has for the past few years annually visited UP during their South Africa tour for International Business students.
On 20 March 2019, the Rutgers students were taken on a tour of UP’s Hatfield Campus with Prof Rakesh Sambharya from Rutgers University providing a brief background on the study abroad tour which the Rutgers students participated in. This was followed by a case study discussion with the UP students. Six teams with members from both institutions discussed a case study prescribed to both university groups beforehand, resulting in interesting cross-continental insights and perspectives.
A team of BCom Honours (Marketing Management) and Rutgers University students
Reflecting on the visit, one of the student teams wrote: “Our experience of the international collaboration was, simply put, an authentic exchange. During the group discussion, we not only got to know the Rutgers students a bit more personally, such as their names and where they are from, but also got to participate in an in-depth knowledge exchange, where we probed each other’s minds in terms of theoretical knowledge and perception. This was stimulating as we were encouraged to think beyond that which we thought was the norm. We had a taste of what was out-of-the-box for the South African students, but the norm for the American students.”
Some of the valuable lessons UP students learnt during the Rutgers students’ visit include that everyone thinks differently, has differing opinions, and interprets things differently – and is right in their own way. To another student, it was very interesting to see how similar, yet how different all the students were. “The way we engage in conversation is surprisingly similar, however the way we think or reason is very different and our perception on what is important is also varied between the two groups of students.”
Yet another student discovered the value of understanding differences in cultures, how this influences what a person considers important and how well a person adapts to situations with different people.
The case study discussion was followed by a typical South African braai, during which students had the opportunity to socialise and get to know one another informally. Some student teams revealed their thoughts regarding the interaction:
“The Rutgers students communicated their experiences thus far in South Africa and their views about the country, stating that it is beautiful. The best part of this entire experience was the great friendships that were developed with the Rutgers students. This experience was valuable to all.”
“Overall the benefits of this collaboration are valuable intellectually and for personal development. We were intrigued by their ideas, their culture and history, their views of the future. We realised that even though we are so different, people are fundamentally the same.”
“It was enlightening to pick up on differences and similarities between the South Africans and the Americans. The difference between our thought patterns and theirs were noticeable. Engaging with them and hearing their perspectives encouraged us to also challenge ourselves to be open-minded and embrace new perspectives and ideologies.”
Thank you Rutgers for choosing the Department of Marketing Management at UP for your visit. We look forward to welcoming you in the near future!
BCom Honours (Marketing Management) and Rutgers University students