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More than 80 percent of all incoming full-time students take part in KWEST each year. Past destinations have included Peru (left), as well as Asia, Europe, Central America and the United States.

KWEST Peru tour

Surfing the volcano

Students on KWEST dive into adventure — and the collaborative Kellogg culture

By Sara Langen

1/6/2012 - Rafael Ferreira ’13 stood on the plateau of a volcano, peering down at the steep incline he had just spent an hour climbing.

Gripping the rectangular, door-sized wooden board he had dragged to the top of Nicaragua’s Cerro Negro, he thought, “There’s no way I’m sliding down on this thing.”

Their Australian guide had spent the long hike up regaling the Kellogg group with stories about broken speed records and other things that had happened to those who had “surfed” a volcano. The Kellogg students stared over the edge with trepidation. But in every group, someone has to jump first. So after watching the Australian streak downhill in less than a minute, raising dust and smothering a scream, Ferreira grabbed his board and took the plunge.

“I felt all the adrenaline of reaching 40-plus miles per hour, descending more than 400 yards in less than a minute,” he said. “Surfing a volcano was definitely one of the craziest things anyone can do. The trip couldn’t have had a better start.”

Ferreria’s weeklong trip to Nicaragua in August was one of this year’s Kellogg Worldwide Experiences and Service Trips (KWEST). The KWEST program is one of the most popular non-academic opportunities at Kellogg, uniting incoming students and introducing them to Kellogg’s collaborative culture through a variety of social, cultural and community service activities around the world.

More than 80 percent of all incoming full-time students participate in one of about 35 KWEST trips each year. Past international KWEST destinations include: 
  • Malaysia
  • Japan
  • Chile
  • Egypt
  • Turkey
  • Iceland
  • Italy
  • Peru
Recent domestic KWEST trips have acquainted students with destinations such as:

  • Alaska
  • Hawaii
  • Yosemite National Park
Theme trips focusing on activities such as sailing, snorkeling, hiking and wine tasting are also popular.

Taking place before pre-term orientation, each KWEST trip is planned and led by four or five second-year students. Meghan Taylor ’12 said she had such an incredible experience during her KWEST Mystery Trip to Jordan in 2010 that she wanted to lead this year’s Mystery trip to Tanzania. KWEST can be one of the most defining moments of the Kellogg experience, she said.

“For many, it’s the first time they meet any of their fellow classmates. For most, it is the experience during which their strongest Kellogg friendships are formed and nurtured,” Taylor said. “In many ways, your KWEST group becomes your family at Kellogg. I can’t think of a better way to start your MBA experience.”

For Ferreira, sliding down the side of a volcano on a wooden board was the moment he became part of the Kellogg family.

“The activity was extreme, but much more than that, it was a great way to start meeting my friends from Kellogg,” he said. “I can easily say that my closest friends are from my KWEST trip. We also have great contact with second-year students that we wouldn’t have otherwise. I can’t think of a better welcome to the school.”