International Experiences while practicing social distance – is that possible?

It totally was during the 4th International Week #IW4 – Your Business vs Global Pandemic at ESTICE/ESPAS, Catholic University of Santa Fe and Concordia University Chicago!

An International Hackathon full of experiences, networking and online team coordination. 

Learning how to organise an international team, how to communicate between cultures and deliver valuable recommendations to the companies involved.  

“It really interested me, it was relevant, full of diversity and it allowed me to adapt myself more to different accents/cultures in the world.”

Laurane ESTICE 2  


An International Hackathon – #InternationalWeek4 #IW4  

This year, the International Week was celebrated in a different format due to the travel restrictions and social distancing related to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this challenge turned out to be a great opportunity. For the first time, we had the chance to invite international students to participate in the event. With over 205 students, 14 companies, 15 challenges, 14 mentors, 2 facilitation workshops and 5 lectures from 4 universities, the #IW4 was more than a university challenge, it was a real international and intercultural hackathon. 

The Head of International Relations, Laura Nieto Cuervo, in collaboration with Elisabeth Dellegrazie (Concordia University of Chicago) and Maria Luisa Gutierrez Peart (Universidad Catolica de Santa Fe) gave our students the opportunity to work with peers from the USA and Argentina at the same time. This year, participants were at home and safe, since the #IW4 was held online! For her fourth #InternationalWeek, Laura Nieto Cuervo said :

“ESPAS ESTCE has been organising International weeks every year since 2017. These events have always involved partner universities and local students, however we wanted to have a professional approach this time. Due to the global pandemic we had to think out of the box and find an attractive and innovative way to hold our international event.


That is why we turned the context into an opportunity to invite international students and companies to be part of an online international hackathon. This Hackathon 2021 was the perfect opportunity to gather international students, faculty and business where participants had to give recommendations about real company challenges.”    


Laura Nieto Cuervo, Head of International Relations 


14 companies coming from 3 different countries: Argentina, France and the US shared their challenges with our brilliant students. They were put into teams of six members with undergraduates from our partner universities, to solve companies’ business cases in the fields of marketing, management, communication, business development and entrepreneurship. Students were asked to give advice to international companies about business cases related to the global pandemic. The #IW4 teams had to play the role of consultants in the fields of marketing, management, communication, business development and entrepreneurship. Their work and fresh spirit have been really appreciated by companies participating in the event.

Congratulations for this international hackathon that allows students to analyze real companies’ challenges. It helped us to think differently and to get out of our comfort zone. The student’s feedback is accurate and real. Their youthful experience brings us freshness and lateral thinking which is always welcomed! In addition their informatics’ intelligence is key to solve the current challenges.


Rocio Arias Dumeige, Business & Administration of Access Ability, France


This event was a great opportunity for students to strengthen their soft skills, especially during two workshops related to remote leadership and meeting facilitation, held in advance of the weeklong IW events.      


Network, soft & hard skills  

We admit it was challenging getting to know and work productively with people from different cultures, scheduling meetings in several time zones and overcoming language barriers. That is the reason why, prior to the #IW4, these two workshops provided by two international online meetings experts: Lynda Baker and Emmanuelle Nechifor helped students to use digital tools such as Howspace to work collaboratively while learning about meeting facilitation. 

 “We were grateful for the opportunity to model professional teamwork for these 40 teams of students embarking on their own team projects the following weeks!  With the focus on group process facilitation, we introduced them to internationally recognized meeting facilitation principles and practices and also demonstrated online platforms such as Howspace and MURAL. I think they really began to see facilitation as a tool for remote leadership!”


Lynda Baker, MeetingSolutionsOnline President 


Throughout the International Week 4, we were pleased to enjoy guest lectures from various countries and universities: ISCAP #Portugal Rajagiri Business School #India Concordia University of Chicago #USA ESTICE and ESPAS #France who covered an interesting and diverse range of topics from soft skills (intercultural communication, online facilitation) to hard skills (marketing, emergent strategies, management, communication). 

These tools were useful for students to find solutions for their business cases and to put themselves in the shoes of consultants for their companies.  

Luckily, they were supported by their mentors – 14 teachers and professionals from Argentina, the US and France – who coached them for this special week by giving them advice to build their strategic plan. 

As mentors, not only we have a chance to support the participating students in improving their business skills but we also give them this amazing opportunity to develop their business network with international companies, students and teachers from other countries. What a great chance to apply and experience the intercultural challenges and benefits we have been teaching them all these years!


Hélène Clary, Marketing Responsible at ESTICE ESPAS & Co-founder of ClicData. 


The variety of professionals they got introduced to during the #IW4 (professors, mentors, company partners, coworkers) was an opportunity for students to extend their network. Whether students want to go further into what they learned during the conferences or to look for internships abroad, the #IW4 offered several possibilities to pursue they career goals. 

This international hackathon was more than a professional experience, in fact, some students also built friendships over the world.


It was a great project and during the international week I learnt a lot. It was interesting to interact with native American speakers. We build a friendship! That’s awesome”
Laurane – ESTICE 2  


As ESTICE/ESPAS is developing new strategies to give our students the possibility to live international experiences, the #IW4 was a great chance to get to know and work with people from foreign countries and cultures in the distance. As the co-organisators of the event, we (ESTICE-ESPAS) are pleased to strengthen our bounds with our partner universities and companies. For the first time, we gathered an event with international and local companies to create a real hackathon for all students all over the globe. 

We would like to thank a lot our students, mentors, professors, partner universities and companies for their trustful collaboration which enabled this successful event.

More information about the event ⏬