Photo of Hannah Javoroski, whose passion for international learning grew thanks to the opportunities offered at UW-Eau Claire.

Hannah Javoroski’s passion for international learning grew thanks to the opportunities offered at UW-Eau Claire.

Hannah Javoroski traveled the U.S. extensively with her family while growing up in Milwaukee, but it was a high school trip to China that sparked a love for international experiences.

“From there on, I knew I would incorporate studying abroad or traveling abroad some way or another during my collegiate career,” Javoroski says. “I am also adopted from China, so learning about and experiencing new cultures has always been fascinating to me. Studying Chinese and Spanish language from a young age definitely helped fuel that passion as well.”

When it was time to choose a college, Javoroski was familiar with the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Her grandparents lived in the Chippewa Valley and her mother is a Blugold who graduated with a nursing degree.

But Javoroski also saw UW-Eau Claire as a great launch pad for international learning.

“I knew UW-Eau Claire had a fantastic study abroad program and lots of opportunities to travel, but I never could have imagined the places I would go,” Javoroski says.

Javoroski, who will graduate this month with majors in international business and human resource management, traveled abroad four times as a Blugold:

  • As a freshman, she was part of a 10-day mission trip to Guatemala through the Newman Catholic Parish.
  • A year later, she studied business economics and international affairs in India for three weeks during an immersion trip to New Delhi, Agra, Jaipur and Mumbai.
  • Additionally, during her sophomore year, she studied Spanish at the University of Valladolid in Valladolid, Spain, for eight weeks.
  • During her junior year, she accompanied friends in the Blugold Marching Band on a three-week trip to Australia and New Zealand.

“I have made friends around the globe and have learned so many valuable lessons from every experience,” Javoroski says. “This has changed how I see the world and how I interact with others. Along with my passion for international affairs comes a passion for acceptance of diversity.”

For example, while she was in Spain, Javoroski was able to experience everyday Spanish life and customs while living with a host family for eight weeks. The stay gave her insight into differences in social culture and interpersonal communication.

Javoroski credits Dr. Kranti “Kran” Dugar, a UW-Eau Claire assistant professor of marketing, for assisting in her international journey. Dugar was a faculty leader for her business immersion in India and has “an immense passion for the success and interests of his students and for international topics.”

“From his global perspectives and great positive outlook on the world, I learned so much over the course of my experience with him,” Javoroski says of Dugar.

Internationalization at UW-Eau Claire, and specifically in the College of Business, is built around “communities of practice” that include faculty, students, administrators and several other partners who all contribute to the teaching and learning about international affairs, Dugar says. Javoroski has an enhanced awareness of international affairs that makes her a contributing member of that community, Dugar says.

“I believe she has graduated from curiosity to awareness, from awareness to tolerance, from tolerance to accommodation and from accommodation to adaptation,” Dugar says. “Hannah has broadened her horizon, has become a citizen of the world and a lifelong student of culture. She’s equipped for success as a champion of diversity in the world of global business.”

Grabbing opportunities

While in India, Javoroski collaborated on research on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals with students from the Sri Ram College of Commerce in India. She was part of a group that presented findings and recommendations for improvement at the United Nations in New Delhi. The theme of their work was “Small actions lead to big changes.”

“Hannah and her team grabbed the opportunity with two hands, since their work was well received,” Dugar says. “What the entire cohort gained, despite language barriers, was impressive, and they were all seamlessly able to make meaningful connections in India, which, I know, will last a lifetime.”

What set Javoroski apart from her cohort, Dugar says, was how she actively worked to counter any reverse culture shock when she returned to UW-Eau Claire. Javoroski collaborated with another student on a research project, titled “Understanding the Cultural Differences and Similarities Through Small Business Visits in India,” which they presented at UW-Eau Claire’s annual Celebration of Excellence in Research and Creative Activity event.

In a reflection on her India immersion, Javoroski wrote that the experience reminded her why she pursued an international business degree.

“I have more of an interest in foreign cultures and business practices now because I have been exposed to diverse situations and people,” she wrote. “This experience has fueled my passion for learning more about different cultural practices to get a better understanding of how our world works, specifically in the business realm. Through cultural awareness, I can continue to expand my knowledge about world practices and strive to be an engaged member of this globalized world.”

Javoroski had an internship at Kohl’s corporate headquarters in Milwaukee and will begin her post-graduation professional career in the company’s human resources department.

“I will carry what I have gained from my international experiences with me for a lifetime and hope to implement them into a future career after building my skills in the professional world,” Javoroski says.

Recommending international travel

Looking back on her international travels during her time at UW-Eau Claire, Javoroski says it’s difficult to rate any single opportunity as most memorable because each had a different purpose. Each experience was unique and provided insight into different foreign cultures.

“There is a difference between traveling abroad for a short period of time and being fully immersed into the culture,” Javoroski says. “I consider my experiences to be life-changing because they truly altered my world perspectives and brought me to where I am today. Specifically, studying abroad in India and Spain allowed me to get firsthand exposure to daily life in those cultures and interact with a plethora of amazing people.”

Javoroski wholeheartedly recommends that UW-Eau Claire students consider immersing themselves in other places as part of their Blugold educations.

“I know many students are hesitant to study abroad, whether that be for a short immersion or an entire semester,” Javoroski says. “With all of that comes fears, doubts and concerns, but I can attest to the greatest experiences and memories that are gained. It helped me a lot to come back from those experiences and talk about it with other returnees. That included sitting on study abroad panels in classes and orientation sessions to assist others with the anticipated opportunity, and to help with reverse culture shock.

“I would tell others to not be afraid and take the journey, even if you are unsure. Every person will tell you about how impactful it was not only on the things they got to do, but also the new life perspectives they gained. I think connecting with other people across the globe is one of the most meaningful things in life.”

Written by Gary Johnson