University News

Students Gain New Perspective in Mexico

May 1, 2002

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MACOMB, IL -- With the population climbing to approximately 20 million, Mexico is quickly becoming a tremendously industrial country.

A group of Western Illinois University students and faculty traveled to Mexico during spring break to learn more about the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and to gain a global business perspective. The trip was part of a WIU business and technology course that focuses on supply chain management, business practices, cultural differences and impacts on trade. Larry Wall, associate dean of the College of Business and Technology, said he wanted students to see firsthand how companies like Compac are producing products in Mexico rather than in Asia.

“It’s easier to move products from Mexico to the U.S. than to move them from Asia," Wall added.

Brett Wolfe, business administration graduate student from Dixon, said the students toured a coffee factory, a steel manufacturer and universities to learn more about how Mexican businesses import and export goods.

Another student, Kara Harper, a business administration graduate student from Macomb, added that the steel factory was more modern than she had expected.

“I was impressed by the way Mexico handles moving products and services around the world," Harper added.

Wall explained that Japan used to be number two on the list of trading partners with the United States. However, since the passage of NAFTA, Mexico has claimed the second spot, dropping Japan to third.

"We wanted to introduce the students to the issues surrounding NAFTA, while giving them an inside glimpse of cultural diversity," he said. "We discussed such things as the average paycheck of laborers in Mexico to such topics as the history and culture of the country."

David Bloomberg, CBT assistant dean and director of the MBA program, said the trip was made possible by a U.S. Department of Education Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) grant program that familiarizes students with NAFTA.


Posted By: Darcie Shinberger (
Office of University Communications & Marketing