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May 12, 2010

Japan Trips and Treks

Some of the readers of this blog may have noticed the list of schools (See the left-column) that I sponsor for Japan Trips and Treks.  I wanted to briefly explain why I do this.

In 2010, I sponsored IE, HBS, LBS, Tuck, and UCLA's official Japanese student organized trips to Japan. In 2009, I sponsored Berkeley, HBS, and Tuck's trips.  In 2011, I look forward to providing financial support again for this worthwhile cause.

I do this because I believe in promoting international understanding.  Personally, I love Japan, which is good because I have been residing in Tokyo since 2001 (and prior to that from 1995-1997), become a permanent resident this year, and have already spent over 25% of my life here. Like with any country, people have different stereotypes about Japan that will be challenged by actually visiting the place. I believe that future business leaders are in an excellent position to have a more refined way of looking at the world and that one of the things the international aspect of an MBA education provides is a real global perspective. I know the Japanese students at these schools will serve as wonderful guides to their classmates who are interested in Japan.  Giving an insider's perspective to their classmates, even those who never actually do business in Japan, will hopefully come away with great memories and a positive view of Japan.

I provide financial support to help subsidize the cost for students to travel here because it is expensive.  Especially with a strong Japanese yen, the cost to come here is relatively high.  Between 2008 and 2010, the yen jumped in value by approximately 10% against the US dollar, which is something that even budget conscious travelers cannot avoid.  I know that the total level of  support that I and other sponsors provide cannot fully cover these additional costs, but I know every little bit helps.

For applicants, I hope that when you are assessing which schools to apply to, you consider whether student clubs organize international trips.  The schools that do so are clearly ones where the students know how to make things happen. Putting together a one-week highly planned trip while you are busy studying is no easy thing.  Those who do it are really showing a strong sense of commitment to their fellow students.

Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of attending parties during the Tokyo phase of IE and UCLA's trips this year and was really impressed both by the commitment of the trips' organizers and the enthusiasm of the participants.  It was great having the opportunity to meet (and drink) with the participants.

-Adam Markus
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