Summer Institute on Entrepreneurship and Economic Development at University of Tennessee, Chattanooga
Through academic courses, site and company visits, community service and cultural activities, the twenty-one SUSI students attending the specific program had the opportunity to dive into U.S. values, culture and mentality. Each weekday started with an academic course; social entrepreneurship, management, economic development and decision-making were some of the topics addressed during the program. The academic courses were concluded with a project presentation. My team consisted of myself, Lia (from Spain), Aivar (from Estonia), Nicoletta (from Romania) and Silja (from Faeroe Islands). Our project name was FreshIT.ro and its goals were to 1) connect small-sized farms with a broader range of customers nationally; 2) provide delivery related services to small-sized farms and 3) provide customers with access to special farming products of different areas at competitive prices.
As far as the company visits are concerned, we visited, among others, the Chamber of Commerce, Green Spaces, Society of Work, EPB and Branch Technologies. During these visits, we had the chance to interact and discuss with the personnel about each company’s vision and mission. In that way, we could also understand the entrepreneurship idea and business plan that gave birth to each one of them. That was also the case for the Community Kitchen and the Chattanooga Food Bank organizations, but in addition to that, we had the chance to be involved in their mission through volunteering. Our tasks were to help in different activities of each organization, as assigned and coordinated by the staff.
Except the courses and the site visits, we also participated in multiple cultural activities. In particular, we had a tour in Chattanooga, we attended a baseball match, we kayaked at the Hiwassee River, we visited Nashville and some local attractions and museums, we had dinner with a local family and finally we concluded our stay in the U.S. with a four-day trip to Atlanta (Georgia). There, we had the chance to visit important museums and sites, such as the High Museum of Art, the Center for Civil and Human Rights, the Invest Atlanta Authority (the official economic development authority for the city of Atlanta) and the Curiosity Labs. Apart from the above though, we also had the opportunity to interact with locals and discover the city vibe during our free time.
Overall, experiences of this type offer young students apart from a new perspective of their career and their life, the opportunity to change their mindset, discover the United States of America and create lasting connections with the other participants, mentors and the UTC staff, which will be valuable in the rest of their lives.
Georgios Agoritsis is a Fulbright Alumnus of the 2021-2022 Student Leader Program
Photo: Georgios Agoritsis