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SKEMA Students Experience the North Carolina State Fair

How many college courses incorporate attending the North Carolina State Fair as a homework assignment?

First-semester students attending the French-based School of Knowledge Economy and Management (SKEMA), which has a U.S. location on NC State’s Centennial Campus, were assigned to attend the 2022 NC State Fair. Provided by NC State University’s Global Training Initiative (GTI), this opportunity allowed students to experience American culture and learn more about the agricultural business roots that have played a fundamental role in North Carolina’s history and economy.

Adrienne Shank, an international programs coordinator with the GTI who oversees the SKEMA partnership, noted the fair is always one of the most popular assignments for the course.

“The State Fair is an excellent way for international students to learn more about U.S. American and North Carolina culture in a fun, immersive environment,” Shank said. “Just the people watching alone shows you the diversity we have here in the region and the state.”

Although the State Fair is popular for its games, fried food, and rides, SKEMA students had the opportunity to learn about the significance of agriculture in North Carolina and one of the state’s cash crops, tobacco. The students were surprised by the prominence of the agricultural exhibits, especially among the rides.

Students holding turkey legs

As a completely new experience for the SKEMA students, the State Fair is unlike events in France. SKEMA student Gwennaëlle Penaud mentioned, “I had a very strange feeling walking in the fair, as we do not have the equivalent of such an event in France. This is a mix of a funfair and an agricultural show. The craziest things I saw were the various competitions involving animals or vegetable weight records.”

The food, pig races, and rides are but a few unique characteristics of the State Fair, which are not everyday encounters for students. SKEMA students Koen Salomons and Penaud noted the excitement of being in an active environment with a diverse population.

Three students on a fair ride

The SKEMA students experienced an environment outside the normal day-to-day campus encounters and were exposed to a diverse crowd of young and old people at the fair. The fair also presents the opportunity to enhance cultural understanding through observing and interacting with other people.

Student group picture in front of a fair ride

This assignment allowed students to experience North Carolina culture and industry first-hand, the main goal of their time in the U.S. The State Fair assignment serves as a way for SKEMA students to strengthen cross-cultural skills interactively.