Prior to attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Harris Hamed ’17 had never been out of the country. Now, just three years and several passport stamps later, Hamed has traveled to 19 countries and six continents thanks in large part to programs and opportunities offered through the University.
The self-proclaimed geography nerd from Fayetteville, North Carolina, grew up with a passion for the world, and was eager to absorb as much knowledge as he could about other people and cultures. Hamed spent two years in middle school on a geography team that competed on the local and state level, and after falling in love with the world, decided to establish his own geography club when he reached high school.
“I found that was something really lacking in our education, an understanding of the larger world,” Hamed says. “You tell kids you want them to make a global impact and be global citizens, but they don’t really learn about the world as a whole.”
The now-senior majoring in business administration with a focus on international business entered UNC with the goal of gaining as much global experience as possible during his college career, and he set about achieving it almost immediately. In March of his freshman year, Hamed landed an internship through UNC Simple International, an opportunity that enabled him to teach English via geography lessons to students in Beijing for seven weeks that summer. “It was an amazing experience for my first time out of the country to be able to share something I was so passionate about with these students,” Hamed says. “And the Passport to GO! award allowed me to get my passport at UNC, which is something I wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise.”
From there, Hamed set his sights on the GLOBE (Global Learning Opportunities in Business Education) program offered through Kenan-Flagler Business School. After a competitive selection process, Hamed secured one of 18 available spots in the program and spent his junior year studying abroad, first at the Copenhagen Business School and then at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. His coursework covered everything from European integration and financial markets to Chinese marketing, but Hamed contends he learned just as much outside the classroom from his daily interactions with his classmates.
“It was amazing to develop relationships with people who have taken so many different paths,” he says. “I made friends with students from Denmark, Hong Kong, Sweden, Germany, Italy, Peru – not only are these life-long friends but they’re part of a global network I can now rely on to bounce ideas off of and connect with professionally.”
Hamed followed his year abroad by participating in the South American Business Forum in Buenos Aires this August, a conference focused on business without borders, which enabled Hamed to improve his Spanish and fueled his desire to return to South America after graduation. The conference concluded approximately 10 months of whirlwind travel for Hamed, and as he looks ahead to a senior year filled with final studies and job applications, he encourages other students to make travel a priority.
“Find a way to make it happen and know what you want to get out of your experience,” Hamed says of a global education. “This doesn’t have to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity if you choose to be a global citizen and have a goal to make travel a part of your life. I learned that you can’t rush your experience, you just have to be determined to continue expanding your knowledge of the world in any way you can.”
By Jamie Gnazzo ’13