Tuesday, January 26, 2016

COBI professor spends semester teaching American students in Costa Rica

UT College of Business and Innovation Marketing Department Professor Ainsworth Bailey taught three courses in the fall, 2015 semester: One was his class for those in COBI’s MBA program (which he conducted online) and two courses were those he taught in Costa Rica.

His foreign teaching experience developed through his approved participation in the University Study Abroad Consortium (USAC), which has provided university students and faculty with quality study abroad programs for over 30 years. The students, from different universities across the United States, receive college credit while benefitting from learning in a different country/culture.

Bailey applied to teach International Business and Management, and Cross Cultural Consumer Behavior, both of which were approved by the USAC.  “They usually don’t offer business courses in the Costa Rica programs, but the USAC approved both courses I proposed,” he said.

“The courses were taught at the National University of Costa Rica (UNA), which is located in Heredia, a short bus rise from San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica.   I had five students in the Cross Cultural Consumer Behavior class and four students in the International Business course.”

“I am interested in Latin American culture, consumer behavior in both the US and Costa Rica, and teaching in an environment where people can relate to what you were talking about,” he said.

Dr. Ainsworth Bailey on the Swinging Bridge in Costa Rica
“The experience was also good for my personal growth and development, as I like to talk about different areas of the world and draw on my own experience while teaching marketing classes here at UT. For example, in Costa Rica, Wal-Mart had big product demonstrations going on in their stores, and you see vehicles going around neighborhoods blaring announcements, neither of which you often see here in the US.  From a marketing communications perspective, this is very interesting to me.”

“I was born in Jamaica, and Costa Rica reminds me of that.  Culture shapes how we communicate, and how goods and services are disseminated,” Bailey said.

“I also started  a study on the use of social media among young Costa Ricans, a study that is still in the data collection stage. Interestingly, in Costa Rica, young people use Dropbox (a large file sharing service) as a social media outlet as well.”

Bailey explained that he was in Costa Rica in the summer of 2013 as a student, and while he is conversational in Spanish, he wants to be able to teach in Spanish.

“USAC encourages you to get involved in activities in the communities and campuses where you are,” he said.  “Apart from working on the social media project with a faculty member in the business school at UNA, I also conducted a two-hour seminar for an MBA class there, in Spanish, on the use of celebrities as product endorsers.”

“Outside of class I took some trips: I had been to Costa Rica before, and it is a beautiful country, with its flora, fauna, geography, waterfalls and beaches.  I took classes in Latin American culture and conversational Spanish, and my students and I all played soccer together. I also took the opportunity while there to visit Panama and Nicaragua.”

“The students in Heredia were all very good ambassadors for the US, and I enjoyed interacting with them,” Bailey said.  “I come back to Toledo and come back to wind chills in the minus zero range. Now that I am back, I like being back; I have my office, my friends and family members,” he said. “But I would definitely go back to Costa Rica. I just loved being there; I never feel afraid… and the climate certainly helps! I enjoyed walking to school and dressing very differently from my normal teaching attire.”

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