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Three picture collage showing students at various locations in Israel.

Celebrating 15 years of cross-cultural bonds

ATSEP alumni commemorate 15 years of partnership with Israel exchange program

August 2, 2023 — 

The Asper School of Business’s Arni Thorsteinson Study Exchange Program (ATSEP) to Israel celebrated its 15th anniversary this year. Thanks to the continued support from The Gerald Schwartz & Heather Reisman Foundation, over 300 students have had the opportunity to learn more about this innovative commerce hub and one of the world’s most ancient regions.

Amber Pohl, Asper School of Business ATSEP Lead, explains how the exchange allows student to learn more about themselves through the lens of a new culture. “As a cultural exchange program, ATSEP encourages students to explore their knowledge beyond the classroom. They are immersed in a new culture and have the opportunity to reflect on where their own ideas, values and beliefs come from, all while they develop crucial skills applicable to business at home and abroad.”

The program kicks off with students from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) in Beersheva, Israel visiting Winnipeg, where they attend classes and tour various local businesses. Then, joined by Asper students, the group visits national-scale businesses in Toronto before continuing in Israel.

In Winnipeg, students observe local histories and global futures, visiting the Forks and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. While in Israel, students experience the salinity of the Dead Sea and the history of the Old City of Jerusalem.

For ATSEP alumni, the program has been hugely influential in their professional and personal development.

Chris Greenhalgh [BComm(Hons)/09], Director, PWM Brand & Practice Marketing at IG Wealth Management is an ATSEP alumnus. “My experience with this program was nothing short of lifechanging. The experiences and conversations I had while in Israel provided clarity both personally and professionally on many different levels. Getting to experience and be immersed in a different culture daily gave me a great appreciation and perspective that I carry with me today,” said Greenhalgh.

Gili Malinovitch, Demand Ad Ops at Odeeo in Tel Aviv, Israel came to Winnipeg in 2019, and notes the program’s profound impact “My experience was filled with new friendships and cultural discoveries. I experienced the warmth and openness of the Canadian people while showcasing the diversity and resilience of Israeli heritage, which was truly unforgettable.

“I had the privilege of introducing Asper students to the vibrant and rich Israeli culture, sharing the nuances of Israeli traditions, customs, and cuisine. ATSEP not only broadened my knowledge of strategic management, but also allowed me to create lifelong connections, and networks for my business future, and promote cross-cultural understanding,” said Malinovitch.

The 2023 program returned after a two-year pause and saw students from the Asper School of Business and Guilford Glazer Faculty of Business and Management participate in a variety of academic and cultural experiences over a four-week period. This included visiting conglomerates such as Palliser Furniture and Price Industries, as well as meeting with Canadian entrepreneur and beverage pioneer Anthony von Mandl.

The program gives Asper students an in-dept look at the significant strides Israel has made in developing high-technology infrastructure. In 2022, students toured SpacePharma, a company that builds miniaturized microgravity pharma labs for space.

In 2023, the program saw students delve into the economic development sector of Israel. With tours with MATI Jerusalem, an NGO that works primarily to provide economic development opportunities for Palestinian women, and a visit with Trade Commissioner Jonathan Ruta at the Canadian Embassy in Tel Aviv, they honed their understanding of impact-driven programs.

While the program itself is four weeks of lifechanging learning experiences, alumni new and old recall the connections they made and keep to this day.

Asper marketing and supply chain undergrad Maisy Do was a part of the 2023 cohort. “If someone asked me what the best part of ATSEP 2023 was, I’d say friendships! Learning from friends and real-life experiences made a huge contribution to my self-development,” she said.

Do adds that the exchange program creates space for students to develop empathy and social skills and grow professional intercultural leadership competencies.

On May 6, 2023, ATSEP hosted a celebration for current and past ATSEP participants at Fort Gibraltar. Arni Thorsteinson, in whose honour this program is named, along with local program stakeholders joined Asper faculty and staff to commemorate this milestone and look ahead to continued success.

Amber Pohl

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Amber Pohl, Asper School of Business ATSEP Lead (second from left) with guests

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