September 18, 2020

Costa Rican Business Practicum Inspires Students


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Students flank Patient Coordinator Mary Lys Ulloa Ramirez, on their visit to “Clinica Biblia” hospital. From front, left to right, are Wendy Clarke, Hilary Cordeal, Clinica Biblia Ramirez, Dr. Shardae Cowan, Vanessa Ramoon, and Mahipal (Paul) Persaud. In the second row are, from left, Kayla Miller, Julie-Ann Mellad, and Stephanie Scott. Standing in rear, from left, are Samuel Young and Dr. Robert Weishan.

Fresh from an intensive schedule of business presentations and tours in Costa Rica, University College of the Cayman Islands (UCCI) student Mahipal (Paul) Persaud reflected: “They certainly left me filled with some very creative business ideas.”

Mr. Persaud was among a group of nine UCCI students initiated into Costa Rican business strategies, 3 – 9 May, as part of the International Practicum in Global Business Development.  The students attended pre-visit seminars and wrote papers, and are now completing post-visit assignments.

They were accompanied by Dr. Robert Weishan, chair of the Faculty of Business Studies, Deputy Registrar Diane Campbell, who arranged the visits and presentations, and Senior Lecturer Patricia Ebanks

Costa Rica was chosen because of the degree to which it values its people and its environment, its national strategic economic development plan focusing on excellence in both spheres, Dr. Weishan said. The practicum covered eco-tourism; international investments and free trade policies; and the thriving medical tourism and proliferating information technology business sectors.

“Costa Ricans will not sacrifice their people, their culture or their environment to short-term economic gains,” Dr. Weishan said.  As an example they will not allow gold mining, he said, adding: “They hold fast to a path of sustainable development and of building a strong middle-class,” resulting, he said, in a relatively impressive ‘Gini coefficient’ (a measure of income equality across society).

Many of these achievements are due to Costa Rica’s steady pursuit of a consistent basic national strategic development plan — in place for some 25 years,” he said.

Echoing his perspective, student Mrs. Wendy Clarke, said: “What has struck me the most is the importance to Costa Ricans of education and of bettering themselves,” with education being free at all levels, to all Costa Ricans – as far as they want to take it.

Mrs. Clarke, majoring in management, added: “Being immersed in relevant aspects of a different country and seeing how it manages its products and human capital gave me new and broadened perspectives on various types of management processes in business.”  A working student, she is already applying aspects to her current financial sector job

Meanwhile, Dr. Shardae Cowan, a young medical doctor who is enrolled in the postgraduate Executive Certificate in Management course (jointly administered by UCCI and the Toronto-based Rotman School of Management) was intrigued by the “intricate dynamics of medical tourism.”  She eagerly explored applicable insights.

“Economic diversity is critical in today’s market, and exploring opportunities in medical tourism and other new industries is vital to securing a sustainable and prosperous future for generations to come,” she said.

Mr. Persaud, pursuing the Associate in Public Administration at the Civil Service College, expressed a similar view. “The many business lectures and tours that we attended have given me a whole new perspective on business and investments – certainly this trip was a priceless experience.”

As Dr. Cowan explained, “Pictures may be viewed online, PowerPoints may be downloaded, but sharing a unique and exciting experience with an exceptional group of individuals is one that cannot be easily replicated.”

Ms Campbell said that overseas practicums offer invaluable opportunities for exposure and broadening that are difficult to replicate in the classroom. She paid tribute to Dr. Weishan for his expertise in guiding the practicum’s development, the students for their hard work and cooperation, and the Costa Rican partners for their helpfulness and contributions to the programme’s success.

“I hope that this will become an annual event since ventures like these take learning out of the classroom into a “real world” experience — and it’s also fun,” said Ms Campbell.

From his perspective, Dr. Weishan said: “In a global village with an integrated world economy, truly no one can afford to be limited to just an island! UCCI students need to see the bright and ambitious young people that they’ll compete against for the rest of the 21st century,” adding: “This international practicum hopefully helped open their eyes to the many challenges and many opportunities they’ll face after graduation from UCCI.”

Front page Photo:

UCCI students visit the Café Britt coffee plantation and processing plant: front, centre, from  left, Tour Guide Vladamir Lobos and student Paul Persaud; Standing, from left, Carmen Weishan, Dr. Robert Weishan, and Lecturer Patricia Ebanks; students Kayla Miller, Vanessa Ramoon, Julie-Ann Mellad, Stephanie Scott, and Dr. Shardae Cowan; Deputy Registrar Diane Campbell; and students  Samuel Young and Hilary Cordeal.

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