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Business students apply skills on summer service trips

July 18, 2013 : By Melissa Skinner/Liberty University News Service

Amanda Ritchie (right) and Jessica Hampton, both rising senior accounting majors in Liberty University's School of Business, recently returned from an overseas trip to Asia where they worked to help a local business.

Rising junior Daniel Keef (left) and recent graduate Kyle Schlarman helped in various businesses during a recent overseas trip they took through the School of Business.

Four Liberty University School of Business students traveled to Asia this summer to participate in monthlong outreach opportunities as part of a new partnership between the school and the Center for Global Engagement.

The program, now in its second year, helps students use their God-given skills to further the Gospel of Jesus Christ through business.

Two teams of two students each worked with field workers and assisted in creating business plans as a means to generate financial stability and provide a way to build relationships throughout the community.

Amanda Ritchie and Jessica Hampton, both rising senior accounting majors, worked with two men who own a furniture store. The men venture to the countryside to buy furniture, including old antiques, from the villages, and then refurbish the pieces for sale in the United States. Ritchie and Hampton helped with the cost analysis of selling the pieces.

“I think this is a great program for Liberty, and I had to apply everything that I had learned in my marketing and human resources classes. Students go overseas to share the Gospel, but they are also applying what they are learning in school,” Ritchie said.

A few of the challenges Ritchie and Hampton faced were learning how the financial market works in other countries and walking a half-hour every day to work. They said learning how field workers live was beneficial.

“This trip opened my eyes to how bold the workers are,” Ritchie said. “They have no problem approaching people and sharing the Scripture with them. This opportunity overseas allowed me to learn how to apply the Gospel to business.”

Daniel Keef, a rising junior majoring in both accounting and business administration, and Kyle Schlarman, a recent graduate with a B.S. in business administration, worked in close contact with a local expert who helped them develop business plans. The expert introduced Schlarman and Keef to entrepreneurs, importers, and chartered accountants, and offered his own insight on how culture and values influence business.

Many of their working days involved going out into the city and meeting with businessmen in local cafes for hours. Other days they would stay at the guesthouse, compiling information and working on spreadsheets.

“The format for sharing the Gospel is changing, and field workers have to do things and hone skills they did not have to before. I am excited to see Liberty’s School of Business use this opportunity to train its students to use our education in an overseas context,” Keef said.

By the end of their stay, Keef and Schlarman had put together a financing plan, pro forma income statements and statements of cash flow, a marketing strategy, a human resources plan, and a detailed outline of the business structure.

“In the future, I hope to see every business student who is considering going overseas take part in a trip like this. There is a tremendous need for it, and it is no doubt a life-changing experience,” Keef said.

The School of Business hopes to significantly increase the number of students who participate in these opportunities. Dean Scott Hicks said the trips not only offer “real-world, practical education and strengthened opportunities for employability,” but help students realize their potential to serve the Lord in their profession.

“The key to our students’ success is truly embracing service opportunities for the Lord, both inside and outside the organizations and sphere of influences in which they serve,” he said. “Regardless of the education we are able to provide them, there is nothing like going out, rolling up your sleeves, and getting your hands dirty while serving in the field in which you decide to pursue.”