In this section, Neal Hartman describes what is unique about the study tours in general and what was unique about the trip to New Zealand.
We often hear from the students after the trip that this has been one of the best experiences they've had during their time at MIT. I think it's a combination of what they've learned about the topic, what they've learned about another culture, and how much it means to them to have this real bonding experience over a period of the five weeks during class, then during the 10 to 14 days of traveling, living, and doing everything together. It's a unique experience.
The Surprises in New Zealand
Probably the greatest surprise for me was that I actually did bungee jump along with about two-thirds of the MBAs! One of the real joys of being a faculty member on these trips is that you really get to know a group of students in very different way than you would in a regular class. When you're spending two weeks with a group of people, it's a really nice opportunity both to get to know them a bit just to have a sense of what they're doing, and what they're interested in outside of the classroom.
I don't know if it's necessarily a surprise, but I think everybody was in awe of what a stunningly beautiful country New Zealand is. We went to a couple of different places in the country, and each place was, in its own way, more beautiful than the first.
And the people were also amazing. We had the opportunity to meet the Prime Minister of New Zealand, and that was supposed to be about a 30-minute meeting that went on for about 40 or 45 minutes, because I think he had a delightful time. It was probably his most enjoyable meeting of the day, possibly of the week, to meet with a lovely group of MBA students who asked great questions, and nobody was complaining about this or that, as I'm sure politicians have to deal with all the time.