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CABGU Shabbat Dinner in Honour of the Arni Thorsteinson Exchange Program
CABGU Shabbat Dinner in Honour of the Arni Thorsteinson Exchange Program

Winnipeg - Friday, May 8, 2015

On Friday May 8th the Board of CABGU Manitoba Region celebrated a Kabbalat Shabbat Dinner at Shaarey Zedek Synagogue in honour of the Arni Thorsteinson Exchange Program.

Approximately sixty people attended, including board members and students from the Asper School of Business at the University of Manitoba as well as from the Guilford Glazer School of Business and Management at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, along with their instructors. The Associate Dean of the Asper School of Business, Dr. Subbu Sivaramakrishnan, brought greetings from the University of Manitoba and Dr. Uriel Haran, from BGU. Noteworthy among the attendees were Joyce Bateman, MP for Winnipeg South Centre, and Christine Melnick, MLA for Riel, as well as various distinguished guests from the business community. Mr. Arni Thorsteinson and his wife Susan Glass were unable to attend the evening and sent their written greetings.

Donna Henrie, the emcee and Dinner Chair, introduced Sheldon Zamick, President of the Winnipeg Chapter of Canadian Associates of Ben-Gurion University, who announced that, as a result of CABGU fundraising efforts, three scholarships will be provided to Israeli students from BGU, which will enable them to join the Arni Thorsteinson Exchange Program next year.

The program was established in honour of Arni C. Thorsteinson in 2006 at the University of Manitoba and is funded by The Gerald Schwartz & Heather Reisman Foundation. The goal of the program is to provide Canadian and Israeli business students, who are learning about international trade, with the opportunity to meet Canadian and Israeli business leaders and be exposed to business practices in different geopolitical realities.

Today the exchange program consists of 14 Manitoba business students and 6 Israeli students. It starts in Winnipeg when the Israeli students arrive, usually at the beginning of May. The student group takes a course on international trade at The Asper School of Business for two weeks. As part of the program, they meet local companies and business stakeholders who deal with international trade, and then they travel to Toronto for three days where, in addition to meeting with leaders from the Onex Corporation, they attend presentations arranged by CABGU Toronto about Canada-Israel relations.

The entire group then travels together to Israel for two weeks where they attend a course on international trade and innovation at the Guilford Glazer School of Business at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, and also tour Israel together.

At the Shabbat Dinner, the Keynote speaker was Gary Bronstone who until very recently led the Eureka Project, a technology-based business incubator, helping over 50 tech start-ups over the past 8 years. Currently he brings his expertise to early-stage tech companies across Canada and beyond. Gary has been travelling to Israel regularly for the past five years to learn about that country's unique approach to technology commercialization and sharing best practices.

His insightful talk dealt with the realities of the business world and provided practical advice for business students after they finish school and go out into the world, advising them on the things they don't learn or encounter in school and are very difficult to teach in the classroom.

He also emphasized the importance of international “networks,” which they have started to build through this program.

The evening reached an emotional high point when a representative of the students from each university shared with the guests their personal experience.

The exchange program has proven to have a life-changing effect on the Canadian students, enabling them to gain new perspectives on Israel. Their viewpoint changes positively and dramatically when they visit the country and meet its people, and they gain a deeper understanding of the complexities and greatness of Israeli society. In turn, the Israelis learn and broaden their horizons by visiting and attending school in Canada and meeting its people.

The Thorsteinson exchange program is a life-altering experience – the unique bond and friendship that develops between the Manitoba and Israeli students has proven to have a profound effect on these students and on their future lives in business.

See full photo album here.

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