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Jul 31, 2019

Argentina Reflection - Sean Gibbs

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Where do I even start? The seven days we spent in Argentina were incredible. I met so many amazing people with fantastic stories. My business vocabulary has improved with terms such as ‘coopetition’ and ‘accidental entrepreneurship’ and I had such a blast along the way.

Before starting our adventure, I brainstormed the cultural differences I thought of experiencing in Argentina coming from a New Zealand background. I did not get very far, and could only come up with the language barrier (embarrassing I know). I’d heard terms thrown around about Buenos Aires, such as being the “city that never sleeps” but really I didn’t know too much on this prior to the trip. This stirred up my excitement, as I was entering a new culture relatively blind to what was to come.

The cultural immersion program began as soon as we got onto the Air New Zealand plane. Instead of just giving announcements over the loudspeaker in English the crew would give the message in both English and Spanish. It was quite fun for the eight of us New Zealanders trying to work out what they were saying, as it turned out we were not that good at Spanish and could only understand words such as ‘Please’, ‘Good Morning/Afternoon/Night’ or ‘Thank You’.

Our first full day on the ground in Buenos Aires was Monday. This was the start of an extremely intense week. We were told that although we felt tired today that was nothing to how tired we would be feeling the following day with the jetlag. You can only imagine our excitement. To begin the day, we had to meet the Argentinian members of our team. The four Argentines that joined us for the week were phenomenal. Similar to us, they had not known each other earlier, yet they blended along very well right from the beginning to the group and it made us feel that we were acquainted for a long time. With excitement built towards the week ahead, we began our journey.

Our first visit was to the New Zealand Embassy. Reflecting on the whole trip, this was my favourite visit. As a year twelve at school, I am required to start to look ahead into career opportunities and university options. I have no idea yet on what I want to do for my career, and hence course selection has been a daunting task for me to choose the right subjects. I was hoping that this trip would broaden my insights on international job opportunities and careers. I really enjoyed the trip to the New Zealand embassy because it opened my eyes up to a potential career path I might enjoy - foreign policy and diplomacy. Who knows, future New Zealand ambassador here?

Throughout the week we visited a total of nine businesses, split between three days. My biggest shock while visiting the Argentinian businesses was the immense level of hospitality displayed by the individual businesses and Argentine culture as a whole. From what I witnessed I believe that relationships are the most important part of Argentinian business culture. This probably was one of my most valuable learnings.

Looking back I can’t sum up this trip in such a short reflection. No words will do it total justice. A week away from home with seven other New Zealanders and four Argentine students seemed daunting leading up to take off but now I’m home, I wish I could start it again. On a personal level, I feel like my leadership, collaboration and resilience skills have immensely benefited from this trip. Never before have I been left in a room with two other teammates (collaboration), given six hours (resilience) and told to produce a market entry strategy pitch that would be presented in front of three judges at the end of the day (leadership). I am so grateful for the opportunity to improve my interpersonal skills, develop my business acumen and increase my global connections. Words can’t describe how thankful I am towards Young Enterprise for taking me on this trip, LatAmCAPE for sponsoring me and Puentos Abroad for ensuring our adventure while on the ground in Argentina was effortless. Thank you all.