Submitted by Genesis Pratt
After I graduated high school, I could not wait to finally get away from home and have my own freedom. Attending college meant doing whatever I want and going wherever I please, without asking for permission from anyone. Being an only child, I definitely felt that I had almost too much attention from my parents. Some students see college as an escape from where they have been living for the last eighteen years. However, most students do not know just how much of an escape college can be. I found an incredible opportunity to travel to the beautiful country of Greece over my Christmas break. Most students can only dream of being that far away from their parents.
I am a student at North Carolina A&T currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Supply Chain Management. As a young businesswoman preparing for a successful career, I know that my résumé must be impressive and extensive. Freshman year, I joined some clubs such as Toastmasters and Pep Squad, but I wanted to do more my sophomore year. I wanted to make a name for myself that stood out among the thousands of students that attend my university. The last week in June, that chance finally came along.
During my second year of school, I began to brand myself and network with not only other business students but also the School of Business and Economics. In an email sent by the Dean of the School of Business, Joseph Huscroft, was an opportunity for a study abroad session in Athens, Greece. The session included not only touring Greece, from the ancient ruins to modern day museums but also visiting successful companies such as Coca-Cola and Varvartia.
Out of forty qualified students, only eighteen including myself made the cut. When I received the email congratulating me on being accepted into the program, I was ecstatic. The study abroad session was geared toward supply chain and marketing students. I even had to register for an additional class titled “Special Topics in Transportation and Logistics” where I got a more concentrated view on the supply chain, logistics, and transportation on a global aspect. The class also prepared us students on how to be safe when traveling to a new country and what we needed to pack. The school even covered passport fees for students who did not already have one! I was beyond excited to be visiting my third country.
The flight from the United States to Greece was fourteen hours total, the longest period of time I ever spent on a plane. Every second of it became worth it when I finally landed in Athens. Some people live their whole lives in the same state they were born in. I collected my third passport stamp at twenty years of age.
The first few days that I spent in Athens seemed almost unreal. Everything I learned in elementary school from Athenian architecture to Greek gods were right in front of me. It was as if I had stepped into a picture straight out of one of my textbooks. I was able to enjoy the culture, city life, and of course the food. As an African American in Greece, along with the other African American counterparts that I traveled with, we definitely stood out in the country. The locals almost did not believe we were from America, they thought we were straight from Africa given that is closer than America. Nonetheless, every day I learned new things and saw sights that no picture could do justice.
During the trip, we had three business visits. Valvarita (top dairy distributor), the University of Piraeus , and Coca-Cola. What stood out to me after visiting all three of these establishments was the subject of freight shipping. Each business had their own take on freight shipping and what was most important to them.
Vivartia Corporate Family yogurt plant was the first business visit. The logistics director, exports director, and plant technical director were the three main speakers. They described and explained every single operation of the company and how every action affects the company as well as the consumers. Freight shipping was a crucial part of the company because most dairy products shelf life is very short. The time the dairy product is made to the time the product is placed on the shelf is extremely important. Yet, Vivartia has figured out the logistics for this process and it is continuing to make efficient updates on it all the time.
The University of Piraeus was a business visit that I really looked forward to. I really wanted to see what a non-American university looked like and just how different the curriculum is overseas. I was already beyond jealous that students could receive higher education for free!
The speaker was Stratos Papadimitriou who is the director of transportation systems at the school. He discussed the different freight shipping services such as Less Than Truckload, Truckload, and Intermodal Freight shipping. Papadimitriou also explained how the port in Piraeus is the largest in Greece and of the largest in Europe. The port’s container handling is growing rapidly and handles about twenty million tons of cargo and counting.
The last place of business we visited was the Coca-Cola Bottling Plant. Our speaker, Mr. Joannis Petrakis who is the director of the plant, started the conversation on the history of Coca-Cola and an overview of the company as a whole. We learned about the regulations, trends, and challenges of bottling plants and Greece and what makes Coca-Cola so successful in beating out the competition. Petrakis explained to us how critical not only freight shipping was to the company, but how important it is for the cargo not to get damaged or destroyed along the way. Vast damage to the Coca-Cola cargo causes a company loss. He explained how the company ensures that all transportation modes that are used stay safe and secure for the cargo inside.
The trip to Athens, Greece really put in perspective what I have read and studied about freight shipping. I feel that I have a sure understand on the topic of freight shipping as well as real-life examples to aide me when discussing the topic. A-1 Auto Transport is a place I can see myself having a career at in the future!
Submitted by Genesis Pratt