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Lauder Culture Quest 2016 took place in East Africa, with the 69 participants welcoming the New Year during their travels in Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya.
For students seeking an optional hands-on activity, Culture Quest is a 10-day international immersion experience organized by the Institute in collaboration with a student committee.
Every year, upwards of 50 Lauder students, their partners, and occasionally alumni, race through a region of the world in teams of four or five, scoring points along the way for engaging in activities from interviewing government officials to attending a wedding to learning an indigenous musical instrument to advising small businesses. The more teams interact with local residents and discover the culture firsthand, the higher their score.
While Culture Quest does not bear academic credit, it is a phenomenal learning experience. In the past, quests have been organized around a theme relevant to the region in which the activity was set. (For example, the Vienna-to-Istanbul trek’s theme was “The Orient Express.”) In addition to the hands-on learning involved in the experience itself, readings and lectures chosen by Lauder faculty on the region’s history, current events, and business climate tie into the Lauder curriculum. Moreover, Lauder students make an effort to connect with Lauder alumni in their travels, inviting them to lecture or take the group on a tour of their own companies.
Whichever region or country serves as the backdrop, participants are given a starting point and a destination and told they may travel any way they can – except by air. The rest is up to them.
To reach the finish line, some teams have traveled through as many countries as there are days in Culture Quest. Every team has a different approach to earning points, but they all come away with a nuanced understanding of the regions they’ve visited, as well as strengthened leadership and interpersonal skills.
East Africa including Rwanda to Uganda and Kenya
Bhutan to India
Gdansk, Poland to St. Petersburg, Russia
Vienna, Austria to Istanbul, Turkey
Johannesburg to Cape Town, South Africa
Tikal, Guatemala to Panama City, Panama
Read “Lost and Found on an International Vision Quest” from the Fall 2013 issue of Wharton Magazine, which captures the Orient Express Culture Quest race from Vienna to Istanbul.
Offered in January before spring semester courses begin, Culture Quest is an optional activity and does not earn credit toward the joint degree.