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Second-year Business Management in Agriculture & Food students get to know Poland during excursion

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The first trip was in 2015 and now the second-year excursion for the Business Management in Agriculture & Food and the Business Management in Agriculture & Food students from HAS University of Applied Sciences in Venlo has become an annual tradition in January. Lecturer Esther Vennekens has been involved from the start and is still enthusiastic about this special country, where there is so much to see and that has so much to offer.

A genuine foreign experience

The excursion is part of International Business. In this module, students learn how to do business abroad and everything that’s involved. How do you decide whether or not to produce abroad? How do you handle export policies? But intercultural communication also plays a role. The study trip was added to the programme to give students a genuine foreign experience. According to Esther, they made a conscious choice for Poland: the Polish culture is different to that in the Netherlands and they speak a completely different language. The HAS also has great contacts with 2 partner universities in Poland.

Agrifood region of expertise

The students worked on 2 projects within the module and presented their experiences during the journey to Poznan University of Life Sciences. One of the projects was about setting up an innovative agrifood region of expertise in the Warsaw area by various Polish companies and the Polish government. The Dutch architectural company RDH and the Dutch ministry of Economic Affairs were also involved in this project. The students were given the task to study similar regions in the Netherlands – such as Brainport, Greenport and Food Valley – and to advise on what a similar initiative might look like in Poland.

Developing a natural area

The other project focussed on the natural countryside near the river Vistula. Poland wants to develop this area and the students wrote an advisory report on how this could be done, and what type of tourist attractions would be suitable. One of the starting points was promoting agritourism. The students came up with ideas such as Ecovillages and so-called kitchen gardens: vegetable gardens where people from the city can cultivate vegetables and cook outside.

The Netherlands is not at the centre of the universe

The excursion helps the students mature a little, according to Esther. “By experiencing another country, they drop the idea that the Netherlands is at the centre of the universe. They learn about the differences in culture and the differences in distance compared to the Netherlands. We also tried to remove any possible prejudices: The Polish are friendly, hospitable people, who aren’t as disadvantaged as many Dutch people think. That’s very valuable to know. The results from the project are great but are not the most important aspect of the trip. It’s about the process. It’s also a step towards larger projects later on in the second year, but mainly for the third and fourth year of the study programme as well.”