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Michael Griffard ’23 MBA, an operating executive at Alpine Investors, used the Kellogg Worldwide Exploration Student Trips (KWEST) twice during his Two-Year MBA Program, first as an incoming student and again as a rising second-year student leading a trip to Portugal. Here, he shares why these trips are a great chance for classmates to form strong bonds that last long after graduation.

When I was going through the process of applying to business schools, I talked to a lot of Kellogg alumni. Every one of them specifically mentioned KWEST trips as a formative experience. During my first year I participated as a student, but it was during COVID, so we couldn’t travel internationally. So, during my second year, I led a KWEST trip to Portugal.

The trip can be exhausting while you’re on it, but you get the chance to form deep connections and bonds that last beyond Kellogg. There’s more value coming out of the trips than the students — me included — realize at the outset. 

“It takes a lot of time to plan the trips, and it really is a service that second-year students do that is part of the pay-it-forward culture of Kellogg and the alumni community.”
Michael Griffard ’23 MBA
Two-Year MBA Program

I wanted to get the international experience that the alumni talked about, which led me to apply to be a leader. It was also an opportunity to give back to Kellogg. It takes a lot of time to plan the trips, and it really is a service that second-year students do that is part of the pay-it-forward culture of Kellogg and the alumni community.

We were intentional about the kind of trip we wanted. We went in knowing that whether or not you intentionally set a group culture as travelers, a culture will form nonetheless. So we focused on what tone we were setting and how people would react to that environment. We saw it as a chance to go abroad and structure an experience that would bring people into an inclusive environment. Traveling together also pushed us all out of our comfort zones and made us think more creatively about being leaders. 

Michael Griffard with KWEST travelers in Portugal
Sightseeing activities, small group dinners and lots of lively conversation help KWEST trip participants get to know each other before MBA classes begin.

We split our time between Lisbon and Lagos on the Portuguese coast. The first day, we organized a scavenger hunt around Lisbon and split the Kwesties into groups of four. It was six hours after we landed, and they had to go to different locations to find things. None of them had ever met each other, but over the course of two and a half hours they quickly got to know each other. We intentionally had only two nights of large group dinners so that we could have four smaller group dinners. Smaller dinners were a four-to-one ratio where each KWEST leader would take four participants and we would rotate. 

At the midpoint, we also did the Big Reveal. It’s the main element that’s kept consistent across all of the KWEST trips. Before the Big Reveal, students are traditionally not allowed to share personal or background information about themselves — they can’t discuss what job they had before Kellogg or where they are from or anything about their background. It’s meant to encourage them to get to know others on a deeper level. It pushes everyone to have more meaningful conversations. Then, we have a big dinner where people go around and reveal where they are from and other information about themselves. Reversing the order allows people to learn more about one another.

The trips take place before the on-campus orientation period, when students don’t know a lot of people. They’re coming into a new environment, and it’s an opportunity to welcome them and accelerate their social experience. It provides a sense of belonging, and it really creates bonds between the different MBA classes, especially early in the fall quarter. After we returned from Portugal, anytime I’d walk into the Global Hub, the Kwesties would be together socializing. I saw the bonds really develop. It was a unique experience that gave us all a strong sense of community. —Alina Dizik


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