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Hochschule Fresenius University of Applied Sciences

When the pandemic travel restrictions lifted this fall, one particular group from the Adelphi University community was eager to take advantage of the change.

Five students, two administrators and a member of the faculty were finally allowed to fly to Germany for a week this October.

They were all part of the TAVEC ( Trans-Atlantic Virtual Exchange and Collaboration) project, which is a partnership between Adelphi University’s Robert B. Willumstad School of Business and Hochschule Fresenius’s International Business School in Germany.

Launched a year ago, TAVEC brings together business students and faculty from both universities to study, teach and collaborate in a virtual environment. Fresenius and Adelphi courses were paired and faculty came together several times during the semester for joint classes and projects. The first semester was meant to culminate in visits to each other’s countries, thanks to a generous grant from DAAD, the German academic exchange service. But the visit had to be postponed due to the pandemic.

“Both visits are opportunities to cement the partnership and to get a broader sense of the two universities, their programs and their culture,” said Susan Briziarelli, PhD, associate provost for faculty support and global affairs. “The original program had always had a mobility component in the plan, with winners of the Trans-Atlantic Student Conference being given this trip to visit the partner university. It should have happened over the summer and we’re happy to have been able to follow through at last.”

Out of the 126 students from both universities who participated in the TAVEC project’s classes, 22 students, both undergraduate and graduate, chose to compete in the one-day virtual conference that occurred in March.

U.S.–German teams of two and three presented their projects in ethics, entrepreneurship, business communications and human resource management. Their topics included entering the fashion marketing world, digital healthcare in Germany and the United States, 21st-century marketing, and navigating different cultural environments.

A panel of five outside experts selected six Adelphi students and 11 students from Hochschule Fresenius to visit the other location.

From the United States to Germany

The Adelphi students who went to the Cologne campus of Hochschule Fresenius were undergraduate students Joseph Kern, Sofia Pinzon and Tanya Sarin, and graduate students Zareen Parvez Shaikh and Jordan Zeppieri ’20, MA ’21.

The experience was “enriching and eye-opening,” Zeppieri said in an article by Juliane Mischer of Hochschule Fresenius. “The students from Hochschule Fresenius were very welcoming and patient with us as we learned and asked many questions … The ideologies I was exposed to allowed me to think differently about everyday situations as well as issues we have in the United States.”

By all accounts a major highlight was a field trip to the STARTPLATZ Accelerator—starting place—an organization that helps startups, companies and innovators across Germany network and develop ideas.

The short, packed trip, from October 11 to October 15, included lunch with the president of Hochschule Fresenius, group work and collaborations and workshops for students.

Faculty and administrators also participated in workshops. Joining Dr. Briziarelli on the trip were colleagues from the Robert B. Willumstad School of Business: MaryAnne Hyland, PhD, interim dean, and Rakesh Gupta, associate professor of decision sciences and marketing.

“Being part of TAVEC as a faculty member was an enriching experience,” said Dr. Hyland. “The virtual collaboration that took place in the fall of 2020 laid a foundation for the students, such that they knew a little bit about each other’s cultures. When we arrived in Germany, the students’ experience with their courses and projects gave them something to talk about and connect on right away.”

Dr. Briziarelli agreed.

“After a year of collaboration, we had not yet met our German colleagues,” she said, “and though we had worked together with remarkable success, we realized how productive it was to sit around an actual table and brainstorm about the future of the program. We all came away with a lot of ideas and enthusiasm for the next steps. We’re very excited.”

From Germany to the United States

The Hochschule Fresenius students returned the visit in early December, to great success, she said. They attended classes, heard a presentation in the Innovation Center and got a tour of the simulation rooms in the College of Nursing and Public Health. They also visited the Manhattan Center.

“Everyone loved the campus,” Dr. Briziarelli said. “One faculty member in particular spoke about the great vibe and the energy he felt. The students made visits to the bookstore for Adelphi gear that they immediately put on.”

Students participated in collaborative workshops and the faculty again held planning sessions, she noted.

“We want this project to grow so that more students get involved,” said Dr. Briziarelli. “We want to do other kinds of programming, more in-person exchanges and faculty collaborating on research. I hope that this can be a sustainable model for other relationships.”

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