I want to share with you something that no course outline can cover or fully explain: my personal experiences and memories from participating in a Global Network Week. I had the pleasure of joining a group of 14 individuals for the Sustainable Development program at the INCAE Business School in Costa Rica. Our group was composed of diverse, brilliant minds with exuberant personalities and cheerful dispositions, including three fellow SOMers/Yalies.
We planned to spend a few days exploring as tourists before the course week began. We decided to embark on a three-day road trip to visit Monteverde, which is known to be home to the most pristine cloud forest on earth. However, little did we know that we were entering a unique ecosystem that also happened to be the zipline capital of Costa Rica. You guessed it—we chose to discover this beautiful wildlife haven by ziplining, which turned out to be the best decision. We bonded and strengthened our friendship as we hiked through the rugged, stunning terrain and dense preserved forests.
At the start of the week, we embarked on a journey to learn from the brilliant minds and diverse faculty members at INCAE. Our first session, led by fellow SOM alum Lawrence Pratt, involved delving into the Costa Rican economy and their passion for sustainable initiatives over the past few decades. From there, we explored the role of business in national development goals, examining the intersection of business and sustainability, and observing the sustainable practices of local companies such as Florex and the Lecanto farm. We also had the opportunity to immerse ourselves in the culture through field trips to coffee plantation farms like Doka Estates. To cap off the week, we participated in an in-house simulation exercise created by the ingenious minds at INCAE. Overall, it was a remarkable experience to collaborate with individuals from various Global Network member business schools with different ways of thinking and work together in a team environment to create innovative solutions.
Aside from gaining a wealth of knowledge about sustainable practices, which I could apply in my career and use to advance initiatives in my home country of Pakistan, what truly stood out to me on this trip were the amazing friendships I made. During the program, my fellow participants and I bonded as peers, and we decided to go on a road trip together once the course had ended. We were initially just acquaintances, but we convinced each other to extend our bookings and ended up forming close friendships, sharing unforgettable adventures together. Currently, we are in the process of making plans to reunite in some corner of the world, where we can reminisce about our shared experiences and embark on new adventures together.
My experience at INCAE made me realize how different we are as we converge from different parts of the world to fulfill our common goals, but yet how bonded we are over a shared sense of belonging, happiness, gratification, understanding, and adventure.
I would highly recommend going on such experiences to fellow SOM students as well as other Global Network participants, as it truly is a good learning and adventurous break from our routine with a great chance of creating sustainable friendships.
For me GNW stands for Gratification, Nostalgic, and Wholesome! To summarize in simple words—it was the best week of 2023!