Barry McNamara  |  Published June 21, 2023

Once in a Lifetime

Trip to New Zealand, Australia offered unique experiences for students, who also studied native cultures, globalization of business.

CULTURAL AWARENESS: The Monmouth College group is pictured on Clark Island in Sydney Harbour, whi... CULTURAL AWARENESS: The Monmouth College group is pictured on Clark Island in Sydney Harbour, which was part of an Aboriginal tour that showed them the land, how it was used and what is done to keep the traditions alive.MONMOUTH, Ill. – Once-in-a-lifetime experiences and new perspectives on business practices and cultures were among the highlights for 24 students who took a Monmouth College-sponsored study-abroad trip to New Zealand and Australia in May.

“Globalization, of course, is so important,” said business professor Tom Prince, who led the trip along with two of his department colleagues, Amanda Cleland and Mike Connell, and psychology professor Joan Wertz. “One of the things we did was look at practices across cultures – how businesses culturally adapt their offerings. We studied the business practices toward Aborigines in Australia and toward Māori in New Zealand.”

Monmouth student Grace Goodrich ’25 of Lake Villa, Illinois, said she was impressed with how the two nations’ business communities are working with native citizens.

“We were able to observe and learn about the Māori and Aboriginal Australians, and the students drew a lot of connections back to how Native Americans have been treated in the U.S.” Joan Wertz


“Instead of turning a blind eye any longer, some businesses in the tourist industry approached the (native) people looking to see if there were opportunities there,” she said. “I thought it was really interesting to see how these businesses chose to learn and try to help show these cultures instead of steal from them.”

Learning about the native cultures was also key to the psychology portion on the trip, said Wertz.

“The purpose of the ‘Cross-cultural Psychology’ course is to help students develop a better understanding of other cultures, as well as their own,” she said. “We were able to observe and learn about the Māori and Aboriginal Australians, and the students drew a lot of connections back to how Native Americans have been treated in the U.S. They also commented frequently about how friendly people are in those countries.”

Studying regular business practices was also part of the itinerary.

“We also looked at ‘What is the norm of doing business in each area?’ The economic growth there is incredible,” said Prince, who noted some of the expenses of the trip “were offset by a donation from a very generous board member.”

MOCO IN OZ: The students interviewed for this story -- Grace Goodrich and Jacinda Garcia -- show ... MOCO IN OZ: The students interviewed for this story -- Grace Goodrich and Jacinda Garcia -- show off a well-traveled Monmouth College pennant.“One lesson I learned from the business perspective is that there can be competition for time,” said May graduate Jacinda Garcia. “Tourism brings people to travel, and businesses care where you spend your time – they want you at their place, not somewhere else. I found that fascinating.”


Seeing the sites

The trip was evenly spent three ways between time in New Zealand in Rotorua (with a final night in Auckland) and Australian stops in Sydney and Cairns, where the group visited the Great Barrier Reef and a rain forest.

Goodrich said visiting the Whakarewarewa Village, which rests on naturally occurring geysers in New Zealand, was one of her highlights from the trip.

“I got to see how this village maintained their traditions, while also maintaining the land,” she said. “The chief also allowed us to take some great pictures of the area and even with him. I never would have gotten as much knowledge about that sacred place if I just learned online, so I’m very glad I got to see the beauty up close.”

“Learning about the geothermal activities in New Zealand was really fascinating,” said Prince, who, with Wertz, led a trip Down Under between the fall and spring semesters during the 2017-18 academic year.

“Sydney is a great city to visit,” said Wertz. “Tom and I have been looking forward to taking students back there since we first visited in 2018. COVID delayed us for a while, but we’re happy we were able to visit again.”

Prince pointed to visiting the Sydney Harbour Bridge and getting a tour of the Sydney Opera House as highlights for him and the students, and Goodrich and Garcia agreed.

GRACE GOODRICH: Another thing that really stuck with me was doing the Sydney Harbour Bridge clim... GRACE GOODRICH: “Another thing that really stuck with me was doing the Sydney Harbour Bridge climb. ... Overlooking the Sydney Opera House and the city while the sun was setting was a once-in-a-lifetime moment that I am glad I got to have.”“Another thing that really stuck with me was doing the Sydney Harbour Bridge climb,” said Goodrich. “Although it sounds intimidating, I somehow got my friend to go with me, and she said she was grateful I got her to go. Overlooking the Sydney Opera House and the city while the sun was setting was a once-in-a-lifetime moment that I’m glad I got to have.”

“I loved going to the Great Barrier Reef and to the Sydney Harbour,” said Garcia. “The ocean life was amazing to see and swimming in the ocean was relaxing. The Sydney Opera House was beautiful from the inside and out. The gorgeous views of the water and the bridge from the opera house were breathtaking.”


Just do it

Garcia and Goodrich both had messages for students who are hesitant to take part in a travel-study trip.

“You should do it,” said Garcia, who followed up the New Zealand/Australia trip with three weeks in Singapore through a College-sponsored research project. “You’ll become friends with everyone in the group or meet new people and become friends with them. You will have so much fun with the professors. It’s a learning moment about yourself, such as seeing what you like and don’t like. It’s an amazing experience and something you don’t want to miss out on.”

ANOTHER ACQUAINTANCE: Goodrich (pictured) and Garcia both talked about making new friends on the ... ANOTHER ACQUAINTANCE: Goodrich (pictured) and Garcia both talked about making new friends on the trip, and that included the four-legged, furry kind.“For those who are scared to go on study abroad trips, I will say that I was in your shoes, as well,” said Goodrich. “I would say don’t be scared to put yourself out there, especially when it might end up being one of the best experiences in your life. I’m really grateful I took that leap of faith going all the way across the ocean to experience different cultures and making new memories with new friends. Memories last, and you should go out there and make these moments happen. I had an incredibly good time.”

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