Student-organized treks are a longstanding tradition in the Full-time Berkeley MBA Program—many students say they are a highlight of their time at Haas.
Over the past two years, students have organized treks to Morocco, Japan, Tanzania, Southeast Asia, Ireland, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Peru. They’ve bonded while climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, riding camels through the desert, and traversing the Andes on horseback.
For Victor Pucci and Sebastian Amenabar, both MBA 16, organizing a trek through Chile and Peru for 40 classmates was a test of their leadership skills—and a chance to share a part of their homeland that tourists rarely see. Here's what they have to say:
Victor's account of the trip:
“We started the trek with a barbecue at my parents’ house in Santiago. We invited all the new Haas admits in Chile, as well as the alumni who live in the area. It was a wonderful chance to meet the Haas community in Chile.
We took a flight to the south where my family owns a ranch. We had organized our expedition with about ten gauchos from the ranch who would take us into the mountains. You wouldn’t believe the logistics of taking 40 people on horses into the mountains. It’s a very remote area in Southern Chile, on the edge of Patagonia.
We made everyone who went on the trek take at least three horseback riding training sessions before we left. We crossed some difficult mountains. It was very technical, and we had to get off the horses many times. The first day I was very, very nervous. When we got to the first camp, we celebrated that we got there without major trouble. We got to share many stories and conversations with the gauchos and we all grew close. Finally we arrived at this place at the top of the mountains. It think not more that 100 people from outside the area have ever been there. It was a big deal for everyone.”
In organizing the trek, Victor and Sebastian worked closely with Peruvian classmates Maria Teresa “Mate” De Quesada and Joyce Barua, also MBA 16. After leaving the mountains, the group flew to Lima and made side trips to Cuzco and Machu Picchu. They also spent time on a large Peruvian rancho with its own school and pisco distillery.
"We learned a lot. It was really hard to organize everything—especially the horse trip—but what I really liked was the whole connection between the locals and the visitors. We had that feeling of being close to people in a way that usually takes much longer."