ISP Roundup Spring Edition: Cookies, city challenges & China’s unlikely rival

ISP Roundup Spring Edition: Cookies, city challenges & China’s unlikely rival

Spanning across three continents and more than 50 destinations, each of the 72 programs we ran over the past three months have had surprising revelations, a blend of business and culture and of course, lots of amazing food.

Whether it’s in meeting the incredible team at a social enterprise baking cookies in South Africa, or in the first bite of a local delicacy on the streets of Lisbon, students’ experiences extended to all five senses in our surprising and inspiring programs.


There are few places in the world that display such a strong sense of community and an abundance of social entrepreneurship initiatives. South Africa is a remarkable country and certainly worthy of consideration when organizing a high-impact study trip. A recent program with the University of Alabama’s EMBA students centered around a one-day consulting project with local social enterprise Khayelitsha Cookies.

Competing among their campuses to design a US market entry strategy there was some ‘healthy’ student rivalry that generated some fantastic ideas. Owner, Adri Williams was delighted to get the students’ insight, but more so to be awarded a ‘one-year consultancy’ commitment to work together on similar projects for the next twelve months. The students also got their hands dirty and helped out at the factory; either painting a mural, planting seeds in the community garden or baking cookies alongside the local women.

Student Jonathan Lewis described the experience:
“It was sobering to see some of those women in situations where they wouldn’t be able to make the wages or have the jobs if not for Khayelitsha cookies. That was something that welled my spirit. It was definitely an inspiration and one I won’t soon forget.”

The day ended with students working alongside local startup, “Dine with Khayelitsha”, a project trying to bridge the gap between different socio-economic backgrounds. Students visited Khayelitsha township to eat with locals in their homes, a fantastic chance to engage with the community and have an honest discussion about their ambitions.


“The first food they tried shocked them. It was a fish croquet – hard on the outside, soft on the inside. The students were unsure. Yet spurred on by the intriguing texture, alluring smell and a growing sense of curiosity, they joined a long line of locals to try this Portuguese delicacy.” – Traveling Program Manager, Hedy Bird

The small fish restaurant in the heart of Lisbon was the starting point of the ISP-designed scavenger hunt. The concept allows traveling students to truly immerse themselves in the local culture, enjoy fun team games, uncover hidden locations and explore the city in a unique way. Here, Saginaw Valley State University students began their ascent up to the lesser-known Alfama district, before embarking on a series of small challenges that tested their creativity, language skills and teamwork. They were rewarded with ice cream, a wine tasting and spectacular views of the Portuguese capital.

Hedy added:
“The students loved the interactivity of the hunt. Not only did they have to spot sites and visit independent shops, but they also spoke to locals and found specific streets, buildings and murals that helped them piece together clues about Portuguese history. We explored local neighborhoods that we would not see on a typical guided tour, so the students got a completely different perspective of the city and discovered restaurants and bars that they would never have come across on their own. The students’ openness and intrigue was incredible and, by the end, you could see many were beginning to enjoy ‘living as locals!’”


Perhaps one of Asia’s top hidden gems, Taiwan is a thriving center for innovation, sustainability and social entrepreneurship, plus a nation home to some of the world’s biggest brands like HTC and Foxconn.

Program Manager, Aidai Idinova recently traveled to Taipei with Villanova University:
“The PMBA students were surprised, yet inspired by the huge level of development and innovation in the region. Our visit to Yes Health iFarm showed how farming has evolved to incorporate more sustainable and energy-saving methods. The vertical farm accommodates around 40 varieties of vegetables and produces 100 times that of a regular farm, with 10% of the water use. As a result of these sustainable practices and advanced tech innovations, the Yes Health iFarm is beginning to attract wider global investment. In fact, one student saw the opportunity and even proclaimed: “I can imagine working here.”

The following day, the students met and worked with the Genesis Social Welfare Foundation. One of their initiatives aims to help impoverished women support their families by selling sweet potatoes. After a brief Chinese lesson and review of sales tactics, the students mucked in and competed to sell as much produce as possible in 45 minutes. While some sung and danced, others used their broken Chinese to entice local commuters. One student broke the record for the most amount of sweet potatoes sold on the street, much to the delight of one of the “mama’s” who broke down in tears. This became a true reality check for the group and gave a sense of the struggle many face without much fortune in their lives. Overall, a fun, eye-opening and absorbing experience.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you are interested in crafting an impactful study trip with us or if you simply wish to find out more about what we do.