It meant departing school at 2 am on July 14, taking a van to LAX, boarding a flight to Atlanta, and taking another nearly two-hour van trip to Georgia’s Berry College— but for 10 Providence students, the long trip was worth it.

 Emily, Katie, and Jenna all have questions during the Shark Tank activity.
Sophomores Trevor English, Josh Guinto, Jake Yonally, Jenna Peterson, Pedro Cruz, and Katie Gerawan, junior Mariano Avila, and seniors Sandy Cruz, Emily Peterson, and Isabelle Marchand made the trek to attend a three-day seminar sponsored by the Foundation for Economic Education.
They heard and discussed talks from professors and entrepreneurs on topics such as “Cooperation, Compassion, and Heart,” “The Economics of Politics,” and “The Role of the Entrepreneur,” as well as three talks by their own teacher, Mr. Rottman, who challenged students about the ethics of free markets.

 Jake and Mariano listening to a talk
So, what did Providence students make of their excursion?
 Trevor has a question for Dr. Heller
Eating Southern food in the cafeteria, including grits and biscuits and gravy for breakfast, was an interesting adventure. Though some of the food was, according to Jenna Peterson,  “too dry and had too much pepper,” the coffee too watery, the gravy, in Katie Gerawan’s words, “milky pepper,” students found the unlimited soda, vitamin water, and bacon were “awesome!”.
Georgia’s 93 degree heat and high humidity was a bit shocking, as the students admitted they were “too used to perfect weather,” though they did like seeing the legions of tame deer roaming the 27,000-acre campus. 

                                        Arriving at Berry: Mariano, Trevor, Josh, Pedro, Jake, and Mr. Rottman

Most importantly, students thought the program, which focused on the economics and virtues of entrepreneurial business, was an amazing experience: they loved the variety in presentations, the discussion times, and their Shark Tank activity. Katie Gerawan’s group came up with with a time share in Cuba supporting local entrepreneurial kiosks, and Emily Peterson’s group came up with GPS trackers for toddlers (though presumably not for teenagers). Isabelle Marchand’s group’s proposal to make baking a lot more user-friendly won second place.  Students also were impressed by the intelligence and seriousness of the over 100 high school students attending the seminar.
Nine of the 10 Providence students attending the seminar are Libertas Scholars, who are required to attend a minimum of two such seminars during their four years at Providence. Libertas students are also reading and discussingThink Like a Freak this summer, which explores a variety of “noneconomic” issues (why do Nigerian e-mail scammers make it clear that they are from Nigeria?) using the tools of the economic way of thinking.

Isabelle giving an appeal for her team’s “Bake Box” idea

As Providence Libertas Scholars engage in seminars outside of our school, read widely instead of randomly under the direction of Providence faculty, and hone a humanities-based senior project over several years, students emerge as free people, grounded in the truths of the classics, and ready, as Christians, to think, speak, and write not only clearly—but wisely.