Aug 21, 2014 7:04 PM by Brian Johnson
Every year, Chico State Professor Curt DeBerg's SAGE organization holds its World Cup competition.
Last year's event was held in Nigeria, and this year's was held in Moscow.
It's hard to believe that Americans are jumping at the opportunity to jump on a plane to Moscow.
But that's exactly what Curt DeBerg and a team of 10 from Chico State did last week.
It was the 2014 SAGE, or Students for the Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship, World Cup Event.
DeBerg said the setting was ironic, because before 1991, entrepreneurship was illegal there.
"So here we are 23 years later and Moscow is opening the doors to the west, the capitalistic west, to encourage youth to start their own free enterprise, profit-seeking businesses," DeBerg said.
DeBerg started SAGE with Chico State students 12 years ago.
"How can we change the world by getting students to be motivated through innovation and creativity rather than filling in boxes in math exams," DeBerg said.
Now, 14 counties (with two more observing) compete in the annual world cup event to see who can create the most innovative enterprises.
Each country has two teams.
DeBerg said only one team boycotted this year's controversial destination, and they were from Cincinnati.
"The children were raring to go to have this wonderful cultural experience and then the parents and the politicians said no let's be afraid, and they didn't go," DeBerg said.
Even Ukraine was a participant.
"It was tense at first," DeBerg said.
But tensions eased as the teens got to know each other. A Russian adult eventually reached out to the Ukrainian team.
"He specifically shouted out to Ukraine," said Chico State Senior and SAGE staff Danny Gross. "He said thank you for being here. Thank you guys for coming. I understand there's conflict and I understand you guys might not feel comfortable, but I want to welcome you guys with welcome arms."
"I love Russians," Gross said. "I think Russians love me. Us as Americans being there, we were almost a tourist attraction."
Gross and fellow SAGE staff Sarah McComish said Moscow was a beautiful and incredible experience. Simply, she says it's just different.
"I think Russians are very proud of their country," McComish said. "I would say it's just a different way that they're raised."
DeBerg expects 30 countries to participate in next year's event in Seoul, South Korea.
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