Heather Reisman and Gerald Schwartz

By Mark Campbell

Schwartz and Reisman Foundation supports exchange program for Dal marketing students

For six years, Sergio Carvalho oversaw a program that gave University of Manitoba students the opportunity to visit Israel and connect with students and executives while working on business plan projects.

“They would come back and say ‘It changed my future and my career trajectory.’ They continued to maintain the connections they’d made through social media and reunions. It had an incredible impact.”

Now the Associate Professor of Marketing with the Rowe School of Business is offering Dalhousie undergraduates a similar transformative experience with the newly launched Israel Exchange Program. Funded through a generous gift from the Gerald Schwartz & Heather Reisman Foundation, the program will send students to Israel to explore its diverse history, culture and economy.

“We’ve had considerable success with similar exchange programs at various universities, including the University of Manitoba,” says Lori Shapiro, the foundation’s CEO. “So much so that when Carvalho contacted us to see if we would support a similar program at Dalhousie, we agreed.”

Although the program has a strong focus on building global business contacts and insights, Shapiro says it is also intended to increase understanding about Israel among Canadians through first-hand experience.

“Two of the foundation’s main objectives are education and the eradication of anti-Semitism. We feel that these exchange programs help to achieve both.”

Carvalho agrees. “By going there, by seeing the country with their own eyes, students get to form their own perspectives about Israel, and that’s why this program is so important.”

The first exchange program is scheduled to begin in late spring 2015. Fourteen Dalhousie students will welcome six Israeli students to Nova Scotia before they travel together to Toronto, where they will meet executives like Schwartz who have strong business ties with Israel. Then, the group will head overseas to network with Israeli executives and explore the potential for bringing Canadian products to the Israeli market, or vice versa.

“The foundation pays for the entire program,” notes Carvalho. “Without their gift, this program could not exist at Dalhousie. It just wouldn’t be possible.”

Based on existing programs, Carvalho is confident Dalhousie students will return from Israel with the knowledge and relationships to launch successful careers, and a desire to see more of the world.

“This is about opening doors and building confidence. We want them to use this as a platform to go on other exchange programs and build on this experience.”