(Left to right, from far left) Naramon Pidet, Moko Yokoichi and Napat Tanawarotai visiting from Thailand bond with UW business student Kiersten Walker (far right) at the GBCC Bowling event on Wednesday, April 9, 2014.
Left to right, from far left: Naramon Pidet, Moko Yokoichi, and Napat Tanawarotai visiting from Thailand bond with UW business student Kiersten Walker (far right) at the GBCC Bowling event on Wednesday, April 9, 2014.

Students from Thailand, Spain, Australia, and six other nations around the world joined students at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business this week to participate in the annual Global Business Case Competition.

Now in its 16th year, the event invites international students each year to both compete in the international business-focused competition—in which teams of students each receive a business scenario they must find a solution to—and also to experience Seattle culture and build connections with the local community.

Building these ties is one of the main focuses of this year’s competition, and part of that is making sure the visitors have time to explore Seattle before getting started on the case competition. The first few days of the week included a tour around Seattle and visits to local businesses, such as Seattle coffee giant Starbucks.

“It’s not just a competition, it’s an opportunity to create connections with other people, like-minded individuals, around the world,” said UW senior Lisa Dang, GBCC co-chair.

Dang believes this is what differentiates UW’s case competition from the numerous others around the nation and the globe.

She said that while many international case competitions only last around 48 hours, UW’s case competition lasts one week to facilitate group activities to create that local connection.

This year’s emphasis on connection-building applies not just to the visiting international students, but for UW’s business students as well.

According to UW senior Connor Harle, the other GBCC co-chair, the GBCC event planners—predominantly students—hope to get more Foster School of Business students involved in the event to create more ties between UW’s business school and the global community.

“One of our goals was to focus on really creating connections with the international community and Foster, because we thought that’s one thing Foster could improve on,” he said.

One of the new events introduced this year in an effort to achieve that goal is a bowling night at the UW’s Husky Union Building, where business school students are encouraged to attend. The event is open to all UW students, however, allowing the international students to get a taste of student life and campus culture.

Yleana Espinosa, a student visiting from Mexico, attended the bowling night with her team, where she got to mingle with the rest of the competition participants as well as other UW students.

She said she appreciates GBCC’s facilitated group activities that take place throughout the week and the opportunity to connect with students from other backgrounds.

“The activities they have has really helped us to open the view that we have around the world and [get] to know new people and make new relationships, visit companies,” she said. “Also it’s good that they mix teams so you meet other people and learn to work with other cultures.”

The dual benefits of a professional case competition along with organized leisure time are what student planners hope the international student visitors take away.

“We want the international students to have a more global perspective,” Harle said. “[We hope GBCC is] giving them lessons that they might not necessarily learn in the classroom, from the competition itself, from visits with companies, from other students in general.”

Hear what some of the students had to say:

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