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Classes Point Inland Empire High School Students Toward International Trade
Classes Point Inland Empire High School Students Toward International Trade

Classes Point Inland Empire High School Students Toward International Trade

International Business Pathway began this month with 15 students at the Riverside Virtual School. The two men who created the program, which stresses logistics, hope it becomes part of the Riverside Unified School District’s regular curriculum. 

Eddy Sumar likes to take on big projects.

Two years ago, Sumar began operating, a source of data from all over the world that businesses can use to improve their market position.

Specifically, Sumar’s website – which he spent six years putting together – is meant to help small to medium-sized businesses tap into the global market, something he says very few of them are able to do.

Most of the information on the site, which is available free of charge, comes from government sources: the U.S Commerce Department, the U.S. Small Business Administration and the Export-Import Bank of the United States.

Sumar, who runs his consulting business, ERS Consulting Services, out his home in Rancho Cucamonga, even provides a link to the Central Intelligence Agency’s website. He calls it an excellent source of information, maybe the best on the web, regarding the world’s 195 countries, an invaluable information source for businesses.

Now, Sumar has helped put together another project, this one for Riverside Virtual School, that’s designed to get students there interested in a career in international business, specifically logistics.

About 15 ninth-grade students from the virtual school – an alternative to regular school in which students set much of their schedule and do most of their work online – attended a three-hour session on Sept. 2, the first of a series of classes to be held during the 2016-17 academic year on business in general, and international business in particular.

Sumar and Dave Dillon, a social studies and history instructor with the Riverside Unified School District, began working on the program last December. Both men hope that their creation, International Business Pathway, eventually becomes part of the district’s regular curriculum.

“I would like to see it taught in every high school in the country,’’ Sumar said. “We set it up like a business and we expect the students to approach it like a business. The goal is to give them some practical experience, in addition to regular classroom learning, that they can use in the real world.”

Dillon, who teaches at Riverside Virtual, called the first session a success, saying the students were clearly interested in the material presented to them.

Sumar’s main contribution to International Business Pathway is a 48-page online guidebook called “Pathway to Success,” which guides students through the program. The document includes a passport for each student, mock currency and a detailed list of goals that include improving one’s leadership goals, learning how to negotiate and how to resolve conflicts.

Sumar based Pathway on a series of principles he developed called OTIS, an acronym that stands for open-mindedness, trust and technology, integrity and seeking solutions. He describes Pathway as a combination of the skills anyone needs to succeed in business.

“I knew I had to do something different to get the students attention,” said Sumar, who said he developed OTIS while he was working with Valley View High School, a continuation school in Ontario  “I asked myself what I could do to engage these students, what could grab them, and that’s what I came up with.”

Classes that point Inland Empire students toward international business and logistics makes sense, because so much of the Inland Empire’s economy is connected to the logistics industry.

It’s also a difficult sell because it’s not a particularly exciting topic or something that most teenagers think much about, but it’s too good a career path to ignore, Dillon said.

“I keep seeing these logistics jobs that pay $75,000 to $80,000 a year and all you need to get one was have a high school diploma,” said Dillon, a high school instructor for 30 years.“But a lot of those jobs aren’t being filled because no one knows about them.”

Last fall, Dillon approached Robert Corona, director of the Riverside Community College Districts’ Center for International Trade, about getting the Pathway program started.

Corona agreed, and Dillon persuaded the Riverside Unified School District to fund the program for two years as part of its technical studies curriculum.

“I liked the idea from the minute David told me about,” Corona said. “He attended one of our mock United Nations meetings [for high school students] in November and the idea grew from there. Now it’s kind of a fast-track program.”

Sumar’s  guidebook, which is the backbone of the Pathway project, seemed to go over well during the first Pathway session, Corona said.

“I know he’s been working on that for a long time,” Corona said. “It seems  to have found a niche with the kids. They took to it right away.”

Riverside Virtual is being used as the Pathway program’s incubator because its class sizes are smaller and the students’ schedules are more flexible, which makes it easier to fit in special classes. Ultimately, Sumar and Dillon hope the Pathway program becomes part of the district’s regular curriculum, with about 30 students per grade level.

Corona, whose job is to promote international trade in Riverside and San Bernardino counties, said international trade is an excellent career for Inland Empire students to consider.

“It provides a good cross-section of jobs,” Corona said. “The Inland Empire economy is based on lot of things, and almost all of it is tied to the international market in some way because we’re so close to the ports.”

Anything that opens up more career opportunities for high school students is a positive thing, said James Moore, superintendent of the Alta Loma School District.

“It sounds very positive,” said Moore, who said he wasn’t familiar with the Pathway program. “Anytime you connect the student with the job it’s a good thing. Maybe they don’t know about logistics, but that’s the point. Tell them about something that will do them some good.”

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