Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Packing Heat

Former president of Mexico - Vicente Fox - spoke today in front of the Darden students as part of the leadership speaker series that brings key leaders to Darden.

A major point that president Fox kept stressing is the importance of free trade and partnership the two neighboring countries should have and that walls never work. He actually brought it in as a funny anecdote after telling us about the walls of the world that did not work.

I found it very interesting that when asked which three leaders he admires, he responded immediately: "I have four" and then moved on to name leaders that have used non violence methods to lead to a social change. Even if this was a premeditated answer, hearing the names of Ghandi and Martin Luther King moves something inside.

I was surprised that they let us all in the auditorium with our bags and without checking them. I told myself that this is Virginia and not Israel and that there's almost no chance that a student would suddenly take out a gun.

I'm not sure if he was a Darden student because his face was covered, but one person stood up suddenly with his mouth covered by a black piece of cloth, a shirt with some writing about it and a sign that friends later translated from Spanish that said: "no police in the state".

The president calmly said something to him in Spanish and the student calmly left.

The translation, I was later told was: "We can talk later, please sit down" and then "see you in Mexico".

Overall, it was an interesting experience and former president Fox is a very interesting person.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Raising Second Years

I've just finished bidding on all of my courses for second year.
Last year, I've read a Darden blogger's post that told the tails of bidding for SY courses and mentioned that it may sound weird that we have to pick all of our 2nd year courses now, at the end of first year, but in fact it makes a lot of sense and he also mentioned we can change the choices we've made afterwards.

Well, I'm here now, and it doesn't seem weird at all. In fact it makes perfect sense. By now, we should all know (more or less) what we want to do after we graduate, so we know what we'd like to get out of next year to best prepare us for the job and life after school.

Perhaps next year, someone else would be writing about a post he read a year back about choosing SY courses.

We use a bidding system to get our course picks. We receive a number of points and use them after devising strategies and predictions using game theory, psychology and dark magic to predict what our peers would do, and try to get our ideal schedule. I have less points because the school deems it fit to put me at a disadvantage because I've gone on a GBE (Global Business Experience) to Sweden this year and that counts as a course credit for next year.

I can't believe how fast the year's gone by. In two weeks, we'll all be raising second years. Our second year friends, mentors, spirit guides will all be gone to their new lives post MBA. It's a little sad. I think I'll miss those guys.

Our professors have been working us really hard here the past few weeks. It kind of feels like Q1 again with all the presentations, deliveries, team projects, late nights and a high ratio of Pizza to healthy meals. They say that in a tough economy, the marketing department gets the first cuts. Well, in my time shortage case, the Gym, sadly,  got cut. I will have to find time for that somehow since immediately after our last exam, we're heading to Beach Week!

This weekend is full of events here at Darden. It's the reunion of a few classes of past. Friday evening is the Darden Follies!
And Saturday is the annual Foxfield Races!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Building Goodness in April

Building Goodness in April, or BGIA as it is known here is something that attracted my interest since before I came to Darden, when I was deciding between schools and was reading about it on the Dean's blog. It is an amazing thing when contractors, students and local shops all partner together with the Building Goodness Foundation and volunteer to renovate around 10 homes of low income and/or disabled families in the Charlottesville/Albemarle community. It is a genuine gesture of giving, and it is extremely rewarding.

A lot of planning is required in order to accomplish so much in just one day and it is student led.
It starts with the inspection of homes finding the best candidates for projects. It is followed by a fundraiser where we all auction all sorts of stuff from golf lessons and 5 course meals through hotel rooms or a cabin in Vermont to pole dancing lessons or a self affirming evening with two students accompanied by a keg.

This year we collected $45,000. Local businesses donate goods, cash and services as well.
We targeted 10 homes and built 2 playgrounds.
Each house is assigned 3 house captains (yours truely was one) that oversee the planning of the work to be done on the house, the interaction with the residents, coordination of the professional workers, purchasing and collecting the materials, driving 16-24 ft. trucks and organizing volunteers.

On build day, 165 Darden students and 100 contractors charge the houses and do their thing.

It's a reall challenge, but we've had some amazing accomplishments on build day. We have given back to the community that is hosting us for these two years and there is nothing that can compare to the feeling we got seeing the expression of our home's residents come back to their new home.

I have had the opportunity to work with great people this build day - the contractors and my classmates who did the most amazing job and accomplished incredible things.

TV news coverage:

Last year GMAC visited us during Build Day:
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