First Stop: Pitt. Next Stop: Bolivia.

Hi everyone!

My name is Nora Kraus and I am a freshman here in the College of Business Administration at the University of Pittsburgh. I am extremely excited to be traveling to Cochabamba, Bolivia this March. During my time in Pitt Business, I’ll be majoring in Supply Chain Management and Marketing. I am in pursuit of a certificate in Communication. Originally, I am from Syracuse, New York and come from a loving family of six. While I have a genuine love for Central New York, I knew early on in the college process that Pitt was the next step for me. My brother graduated from Pitt Business back in 2016, which initially sparked my interest. What pulled me in, however, were the opportunities that Pitt offers. The entire campus is overflowing with opportunities to grow, which is an aspect of the university that became exceptionally evident within Pitt Business. I continue to see opportunities shine through each and every day. The opportunities have been ones that I could have never anticipated and are more incredible than I could have ever imagined.

As I’ve gone about the first few months here at Pitt, it has been a priority to get involved with groups and organizations that will encourage growth and development. Outside of the classroom, I am an active member of Phi Beta Lambda (PBL). I attribute a majority of the professional growth I have experienced to what I have learned in PBL from experiences with employers and other members in the organization. It’s wonderful to be in a community that is made up of incredibly driven young professionals. Next year I will be serving as the Vice President of Service on the organization’s Leadership Team. Aside from that role, I have also been a member of a small team that is planning a fundraiser for CEOLI, which is the organization we will be working with in country.

Beyond this, I am also an active volunteer with the Pitt Pantry as a Guide. My professional goals resemble working at the corporate level of a food service/operation, whether that be a grocery store or corporation working to improve the food industry as a whole. The Pitt Pantry has allowed for the growth of this passion, while also providing an opportunity to serve the Pitt community. Outside of Pitt, I am also actively involved with Young Life and look forward to serving with them throughout the next few years as a leader.

This opportunity was initially brought to my attention by various members of PBL who went on the first trip just last year. Hearing highlights of their experiences instilled in me a desire to go on this trip and see what potential impact my involvement could have. After learning more about the trip, I soon realized just how well this opportunity aligns with my aspirations as a student. This being said, it is also the fusion of two things I have never fused together before. The concept of service learning had me interested from the start, but it wasn’t till classes began that I had a clear grasp of what it means to take part.

Throughout the current semester, my fellow students and I will be working with one another to prepare a presentation for our client. We are all enrolled in, “Introduction to Service Learning,” where the premise is to gain tangible experience in service learning by doing work for a specific client. This premise aligns with Pitt Business’s emphasis on experiential learning. For our specific project, our client is CEOLI. CEOLI is a nonprofit organization that is located in Cochabamba, Bolivia that facilitates growth in children and adults with disabilities and special needs. It is their mission to provide their students with the education and resources to develop and reach their full potential.

As a business, CEOLI stays afloat predominantly from the money they raise for their organization. The organization uses skills within their facility to raise the money they need. One of their main sources of revenue are a series of handmade greeting cards that they create. These cards are created by the students at the school and have become an incredible way for students to showcase their natural talents. The school has some other means of revenue, but, as of now, these cards are the most established and successful.

We have the opportunity to assist CEOLI in generating more awareness of their story and cause. We aspire to collaborate with one another effectively in order to create deliverables for our client that will not only be effective this year but also effective in the years to come.

I have previous experience with doing service abroad. This being said, I am anticipating this endeavor to be different and to personally grow in different ways than I had with my other experience. For the past two years, I have spent winter breaks in rural El Salvador, where it was our mission to serve the community through assisting in making technological and social advancements within their society. I am deeply thankful for the growth that resulted from those experiences. While this trip to Bolivia has a service component, I think the fact that it is oriented with a business will translate into growth that is different than I have ever experienced before. I appreciate how this opportunity ties together two areas of learning with one another.

Considering our actions are directly affecting individuals and their organization as a whole, I have begun to develop an understanding for how unique this opportunity is. I hope that this experience will result in different forms of internal growth through the different aspects of the project. Alongside personal growth, I anticipate that there will be professional growth as well as it is a unique opportunity to work with a legitament client. I look forward to being actively engaged with the natives of Bolivia to develop a better and broader understanding of their society as a whole and our world as a whole.

And to think that this is just the beginning. Stay tuned for updates about this extraordinary adventure!