Kellogg World Alumni Magazine, Summer 2004Kellogg School of Management
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WHU in Israel
Students of the Leon Recanati Graduate School of Business Administration at Tel Aviv University in Israel and WHU-Otto Beisheim Graduate School of Management revel in a joint learning opportunity in Israel.
Recanati and WHU students team up for an extraordinary learning experience in Israel

by Anette Samsioe, Arnd Krusche, Ina Spiess, Ari Gottesmann, Eli Gabay, Yochai Zeid

When the Kellogg School promised an International Executive MBA program, it delivered. There now are world-class programs in Canada, China, Germany and Israel. Who else besides Kellogg offers students such diverse culture and an environment in which to develop relationships that evolve into lasting friendships?

Last summer, students at all of the Kellogg School's programs had the chance to meet at Live-In Week on the Evanston campus.

Everyone had questions about Israel's politics, culture and everyday life. Then several students came up with an idea: "What if we were to take this international experience a step further and meet our new friends in Tel Aviv during January '04?"

Concerns abounded. Would it be safe? Many questions were raised, and weighted probability functions were analyzed on Excel. The decision to pursue this international meeting in Israel was spurred by the excellent interaction between the Palestinian and Israeli members of the Kellogg Recanati program, who have lived through "The Conflict" their entire lives. So in January, 12 students from the WHU-Otto Beisheim Graduate School of Management --- the Kellogg joint degree program in Germany --- arrived in Tel Aviv as part of an elective program to study behavioral finance. The class was taught by Professor Thomas Lys from Kellogg and Professor Margaret A. Neale from Stanford University. It was an experience we would not forget.

The behavioral finance course was taught by both professors simultaneously. The result was a lively and interesting lecture that provided a steady flow of deep financial and psychological enlightenment through the professors' compelling interaction. Who would have guessed that a finance class could be so entertaining?

Following the Kellogg tradition, the Recanati branch threw a huge New Year's party in honor of their WHU guests, complete with food, drinks, DJ and an excellent show. After the "official" Kellogg-Recanati party, the locals used their negotiating skills to persuade the "hard-core party gang" from WHU to sample Tel Aviv nightlife. They were so successful that the partying continued, skipping from tavern to bar to dance club each night. The WHU crew was amazed that a small city in the Middle East would have so much to offer until the wee hours of the morning. Tel Aviv is truly a city that never sleeps. (Watch out, New York.)

WHU students commented that one of the week's nicest experiences was the "warmth and openness" of their hosts. If it wasn't for the tight airport security, they said, they would have thought that they were in London or Chicago.

The Kellogg-Recanati hosts stretched the days to include far more than what is commonly considered possible in 24 hours. WHU students got to see such varied sights as beautiful residential areas in Tel Aviv, partially crumbling buildings undergoing urban renewal, upscale boutiques, Arab fruit stands and flea markets. One moment the students felt like they were on a typical Mediterranean holiday, while the next they faced the reality of military checkpoints. They went from rational accounting to psychological biases, and from hard work to partying. They encountered natives with a laidback lifestyle and those devoted to religious fundamentalism.

Because Palestinians as well as Israelis are enrolled in the Recanati EMBA program, this was a good opportunity for the German students to acquire first-hand information about both sides' political views and the region's conflict. The WHU-Kellogg students came away understanding that both sides are tired of the conflict and share a deep desire for peace.

At the end of the program, the Recanati students gave their guests a guided tour through the Judean Desert, West Bank, Dead Sea and Jerusalem, organized and guided by Recanati student Ari Gottesmann.

The tour began in Tel Aviv, where students piled into the Jeeps of "Remy the Ranger," "Tzvi the Joker," "Yochai the Flying Barron," "Shuki the Giant," "Irit the Brave" and "Ari the Wildman." On the way, we passed the legendary Green Line and saw "The "Fence," which triggered mixed emotions for the Germans, whose own nation had previously been divided. Their Israeli and Palestinian counterparts expressed what it means for them to live in a divided country today.

Within minutes we made it past the rolling hills of Jerusalem to the West Bank and into the magnificent Judean Desert. We slowly climbed to the top of the strategic Har Montar, the highest mountain in the Judean desert, overlooking most of the access routes between the deep canyons leading from the Dead Sea and Jordan to Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Ramallah.

From Har Montar we descended into the Kidron Valley, passing Bedouins raising sheep in the desert as they have done for the last 3,000 years. The Bedouins use hand-dug wells to gather water as it runs off the surrounding mountains during the winter floods. This water has to last the Bedouins and their flocks until the next rainy season. We agreed that the Bedouins could probably offer an interesting course at Kellogg about capital resource preservation and utilization.

°ild, wandering camels watched from a distance as our caravan bumped along in the barren desert, passing scrapped tanks that rested in piles of windblown sand.

The Jeeps scrambled over a remote hill when a yawning canyon suddenly appeared and the light of the copper domes of the isolated and majestic Mar Saba Greek Orthodox monastery shimmered in the sunlight. St. Saba and his followers built the immense structure more than 1,500 years ago as a bastion for some 500 Christian monks. Talk about a logistics nightmare! Next time Kellogg needs an operations case study they should look at this as an example of how to provide food and water for 500 people living in the middle of nowhere.

From the monastery, we snaked down to the Dead Sea — at 400 meters below sea level, the lowest point on earth. We watched as the sunset bathed the mountains of Jordan in a pinkish-purple light. Finally, the Jeeps roared into a parking lot on the Dead Sea's shore. The WHU students piled out and raced for its cool waters, with their Recanati hosts just behind screaming warnings about not getting the salty water in their eyes. We all jumped into the water — and floated! It was impossible to dive or sink. Some of us opened newspapers and read while floating serenely on the water. The Israeli students discovered that their German counterparts were experts in a variety of different "beach disciplines," such as mud wrestling, water ballet and body painting.

After finishing our mud pack and mud wrap beauty treatments, we headed to Jerusalem. The Jeeps rumbled up Mount Scopus, where we caught a breathtaking panoramic nighttime view of the entire city. The 600-year-old walls of the Old City and the Dome of the Rock, the third holiest shrine to Islam, glistened as the cool night air descended.

We then drove to the Mount of Olives, where the WHU guests had the opportunity to see where Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount. Within minutes our convoy arrived outside the Jaffa Gate at the entrance to the Old City. The Germans were surprised to hear that the current entrance was built in honor of Kaiser William II, who visited Jerusalem in the early 1900s.

Our foot tour of the Old City began with a visit to the Arab shouk (bazaar), located between the Christian and Jewish quarters. The WHU students, assisted by their Recanati friends, began to test their negotiation techniques learned at the Kellogg School. We established BATNAs as the bargaining heated up for everything from flavored tobacco for water pipes to Christian relics. The local merchants had never seen anything like it! With our spoils inhand, we joyfully marched on to visit the Via Dolorosa, the church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Muslim, Christian and Jewish quarters.

As we strode past the 2,000-year-old Roman cardo (market) and down to the Western Wall, Judaism's most renowned holy site, we were all afforded a breathtaking view of the Dome of the Rock and the site where Mohammad ascended to heaven. The WHU visitors learned that the Dome of the Rock sits on the site of the former Jewish Temple destroyed by the Romans more than 2,000 years ago.

Everyone took time at the Western Wall to pray for world peace, wealth and good grades before reluctantly heading out of the Old City for dinner. At the restaurant, the Arab waiters greeted us with warm smiles and spectacular service. Our table was decked out with dozens of Middle Eastern salads, which we washed down with local wine. Next came the lamb, veal and steak that rivaled the best restaurants in Chicago.

After such a great week it was hard for the WHU and Recanati students to part. But we chose to view it not as "goodbye" but rather "see you in Hong Kong," as we made plans to meet for another joint-study week in May.

We all agreed that it is imperative these exchanges continue and be expanded for the benefit of Kellogg School students around the world. Plans are already in motion for Israeli and Hong Kong students to meet their counterparts in Germany next year. The next step is to give American students the opportunity to travel and study with their peers around the world. As one Israeli student said, "Our doors are open." We look forward to this exchange becoming a Kellogg tradition and a fixed part of the Kellogg curriculum, community and experience. Thank you, Kellogg, for everything. We hope to see you all again soon.

©2002 Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University