Global finance and business law shape Elon trips to China, Cayman Islands and Cuba

Elon Law and MBA students met with top business and law leaders in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Cuba and the Cayman Islands through collaborative international business courses.

Elon Law and MBA students and faculty in China visit facilities of VF Corporation, an $11 billion apparel and footwear company with headquarters in Greensboro, N.C.  
The international business course with a study abroad component to China included business, legal and cultural activities in Shanghai, the world’s largest city with more than 23 million people, and Hong Kong, one of two Special Administrative Regions of China.

In the course, students analyzed U.S.-based businesses operating in China before the trip, then visited those businesses during the trip to see their operations and speak with executives first-hand about the challenges and opportunities of doing business in China.

The Elon law and MBA contingent in China visited facilities of the North Carolina-based Glen Raven, a fabrics manufacturing and marketing company. 
“The winter term abroad in China was a great program and a once in a lifetime trip that I was glad I had the opportunity to take,” said third-year law student Stacy Kroustalis. “China currently has a rapidly growing economy, and being there to witness firsthand what measures they are taking to instill innovation and productivity was an amazing experience. Culture plays a huge roll in business conduct and outlooks on legalities involving business practices. To be able to study and experience a culture so different from ours was truly exhilarating and life-changing.”

“My biggest take away from this trip is that the world may not always be what we think of it as,” said MBA student James Campbell. “The legal system and business environment always looks black and white when it’s written down, but until you talk to people that operate within these systems for a living and see it for yourself you don’t really know. The blend of Elon MBA and Law students was a fascinating way to broaden perspective on the trip and visits. We challenged one another with tough questions and were enlightened by one another’s areas of knowledge.”

Elon Law student Keshia McDonald L'14, right, presents a gift to one of the group's counterparts who shared insights about the law and business climate of China.
During their 10-day trip to Shanghai and Hong Kong, which took place January 9-19, students visited several international businesses including Glen Raven, Inc., Fine Furniture Ltd., Volvo Construction Equipment, VF Corporation, and Hong Kong start-up Secret Ingredient, as well as law firm Paul Hastings, the American Chamber of Commerce and the port at Hong Kong International Terminals.

“Visiting Shanghai on China’s mainland and then the island of Hong Kong made for an interesting contrast of how two cities of the same country do business slightly differently,” said third-year law student Keshia McDonald. “The trip was a lot of fun and a great learning experience. It was great that MBA and law students were able to come together and provide different perspectives to doing business internationally. Law students also had the opportunity to bring MBA students into our world when visiting international law firm Paul Hastings.”

The Elon group celebrates the trip on top of Victoria's Peak in Hong Kong.
“I really enjoyed my experiences on the study abroad trip,” said third-year law student Tyrone Davis. “It was a great opportunity for me to gain first-hand knowledge about another culture other than my own.”

This is the fifth consecutive year that Elon’s law school and MBA program have collaborated in a joint winter term course with a study abroad component.

Faculty and staff leading the trip were: Associate Professor of Law Thomas Molony; Adjunct Professor of Law Jack Hicks, who is also a veteran patent law attorney with Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, LLP; and, Frank S. Holt, Jr. Professor of Business Leadership Robert Moorman.

Shanghai, China
The student contingent on the trip to China included third-year law students Donald Athey, William Blake, Caitlin Cutchin, Tyrone Davis, Jetonne Ellis, Stacy Kroustalis, David Lambert, LeeAnne Lawrence, Pedro Mantilla, Keshia McDonald, Ryan Moffitt, Monique Smart and Erica Weatherford. MBA students on the trip included Ian Bridgers, James Campbell and Jessica Odom, as well as second-year law student and MBA student Adam Kindley.

With respect to other sites during the Shanghai portion of the trip, students had the opportunity to visit Temples, fishing villages, Big Buddha, hike the Dragon’s Back trail and explore the city of Shanghai by participating in a scavenger hunt. The class also experienced many authentic Chinese meals.

Hong Kong, China
In Hong Kong, in addition to meeting business leaders and law firm expatriates, the group visited Victoria’s Peak, Stanley Market, and several bargaining night markets, all international attractions. 



Elon Law and MBA students in Cuba as part of a 2014 international business course.
Elon Law students also merged with MBA program students in a business course that included a trip to Cuba and the Cayman Islands in an effort to examine the global financial services industry.

“The opportunity to travel to Havana, Cuba, and George Town, Cayman Islands, was unforgettable,” said third-year law student Ben Woody. “Rarely can a student embrace an opportunity to compare economic systems so diametrically opposed to one another, and I’m very fortunate that Elon University afforded me that opportunity. Exposing business-themed concepts to law students expands our points of reference as marketable attorneys.”

<p>Havana, Cuba</p>
During the ten-day January trip students investigated pertinent social/governmental issues while on the islands. They also learned about the business practices within Cuba and the Cayman Islands culture, and compared and contrasted their own culture with the lives of those living on the islands.

“My trip to Cuba and the Cayman’s reminded me of the vast amount of opportunities available to those who wish to practice law,” said third-year law student Kaalil Muhammad. “Lawyers make a difference both in the courtroom and far beyond those walls as well.”

George Town, Cayman Islands
Faculty on the trip included: Art Cassill, Wesley R. Elingburg Professor of Accounting, and Kevin O’Mara, Professor of Management.

The student contingent included third-year law students Ben Woody, Peyton Mansure, Kaalil Muhammad, Ami Ba and John Evans, MBA students Allison Cardella, Mark Lasher, Cale Murray, Ann Stoehr and Emily Sweitzer, and JD/MBA students Hunter Fede L’14 and Tony Huynh L’14.

Reporting for this article contributed by Keshia McDonald L’14.