Building Croatian Connections through the ACAP Scholarship Program

Published: October 11, 2017

The recipients of the 2017 ACAP Scholarships Awards, Madeline Kovacevic, Tatjana Mustac, and Gordan Kucan, attended The Summer Negotiations program at the Zagreb School of Economics and Management and enjoyed a unique educational and cultural program in Croatia. Read on to learn more about their firsthand experiences.


By: Madeline Kovacevic

This past summer I was honored to be a part of The Summer Negotiations program at The Zagreb School of Economics and Management. Upon arriving to the program, I was welcomed with open arms by staff members and students of ZSEM who made me feel at home. The program was not only educational but a unique experience that I will carry with me for years to come. I enjoyed getting to know all the students on the trip and it was very beneficial to learn from each other especially since we all came from different backgrounds and cultures.

Spending a week in Zagreb is something I never gave much thought to because growing up as a Dalmatinka most of my time was spent on the beach. However, because the week-long program showed me the beauty and rich culture of the city I will definitely be returning. Our first night was spent on a guided tour of Zagreb in which we got to know one another and familiarized ourselves with the city. Our days were spent either in lecture, taught by University of Michigan Professor George Siedel, or in mock negotiations between classmates. Each day we were assigned to some role in a business deal and within each deal was a lesson to be learned. After negotiating with other Croatian, American, and European Students, the biggest take away was that you need to understand who you are doing business with. In other words, just because a certain business tactic or style works for you does not mean it’ll bring forth a successful deal. We can learn a lot from each other and that was evident every day in the classroom because people came from very different backgrounds with different views therefore it made for interesting and educational discussions.

In addition to the amazing lectures and discussions, what really set this program apart from others were the numerous company visits. From a small tech start up, to Croatia’s Chamber of Commerce, we were exposed to and learned different aspects of Croatia’s businesses. Going to different businesses and applying what I learned during lecture made the program unique because I could see many business and negotiation tactics play out in the real world. It was eye opening to go to behind the scenes at the different companies because each company, whether small or big, had their own success story and advice for a successful business. Furthermore, experiencing Zagreb as a student was much different than I had expected, in a positive way. By following the schedule of the program, I was immersed into the city culture in a way that I would not have been without set activities and social events.

Following the program, our group excursion to Plitvice Lakes and Zadar was not only breathtaking but also education due to the rich culture and history behind each city. I will carry the memories and knowledge from the program with me forever and I have The Zagreb School of Economics and Management and Association of Croatian American Professionals to thank for that.