Bolivia: the Start of Something New

Hi there! My name is Molly Horrell, I am a sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh studying Marketing and Supply Chain Management. I am also pursuing minors in Economics and Studio Arts. Outside of academics I am heavily involved in my professional business organization Phi Beta Lambda (PBL), where I currently serve on the Leadership Team as the Vice President of Service. Phi Beta Lambda and service have been huge aspects of my life here at Pitt, so when last year’s members of PBL went to Bolivia the trip really sparked my interest.

I am from a small town called Ligonier, which is about an hour outside of Pittsburgh. I grew up in a household of four people consisting of my father, mother, sister, and me. I also have an extremely spoiled jack russell terrier named Miley. A fun fact about myself is that I have been collecting souvenir spoons ever since I was little. I have over 80 spoons from across the United States and 13 additional countries, but a lot of them are gifts from friends and family.

In high school I went on a mission trip to Harmons, Jamaica with my youth group. We went on a weeklong trip to assist a company called Won by One. Their mission is to support families in the Harmons community. During our stay we built two houses, visited a local hospital for special needs patients, taught at a local school, and interacted with the citizens of Harmons. We also learned a lot about their economy, lifestyle, and overall culture in Jamaica. Although this initiated my desire to go abroad at my time at Pitt, I am excited to continue to observe the difference between my mission trip and the service learning trip.

Both my trip to Jamaica, and hearing about the previous group’s trip to Bolivia attributed to my interest in the service learning project. CEOLI really made an impact on all of the members of PBL that went on the trip, and they returned so passionate about the company and their mission. Our service learning project is to continue the partnership between Pitt Business, and CEOLI and Amizade. CEOLI provides a center for disabled youth that serves to educate and help over 150 children and young adults in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Since the company is a nonprofit organization, CEOLI is always looking for ways to generate revenue to support their mission. A portion of the CEOLI mission is the CEOLI Card Story. The CEOLI Card Story stems from CEOLI’s occupational therapy program. Young disabled artists hand paint Bolivian greeting cards, and sell them as a way to earn a profit. Amizade a Fair Trade Learning organization partnered with CEOLI to distribute the cards and help the artists sustain themselves.

Building off of the foundation created by last year’s group, our personal involvement in this program is to collaborate with CEOLI and Amizade to improve potential revenue channels. The cards will be our primary focus since we have access to 16,000 cards on inventory in the Pittsburgh area. We will work to generate more awareness of the story and meaning behind the cards. Since there is a 10 year commitment between Pitt Business and CEOLI it is important for our group to put a lot of attention on the continuation of the program by easing the transition between groups. Delivering tools and recommendations will help provide a more cohesive shift from the spring 2018 group, to the summer interns and fall ambassadors, and then cycling back to the next group in the spring 2019 term.

In addition to working with the revenue channels, a big portion of our project is to continue to foster relationships between us, and CEOLI and Amizade. Part of our trip will be to personally experience the Bolivian culture, and see the impact CEOLI makes on the children’s lives. The real life exposure will allow us to continue to build connections with CEOLI, and provide a stronger footing for future Pitt Business groups. This trip will not only grow me academically and professionally, but also personally.

Academically and professionally this course integrates very well with my experience at Pitt. I really wanted to study abroad at my time at college, but I was intimidated by the idea of studying abroad for a whole semester. It would have also been very hard for me to fit into my schedule since serving on PBL’s leadership team is a large time commitment. Since this study abroad trip is during spring break it fit into my schedule perfectly. I believe that studying abroad is extremely important for students. It allows us to learn in a completely different environment, gives us exposure to global/international business, and allow us to get our feet wet in real world business situations.

This service learning project also coincides very well with my major. A large portion of the project is finding ways to market the cards, and optimize the distribution of them. We will be working with different types of sales channels such as companies, churches, and other personal networks to help facilitate the sale of cards. These goals are both heavily geared towards my studies in marketing and supply chain. I am also interested in learning more about nonprofits. As I previously stated, service has always been a huge part of my life. But, I am unsure of whether or not I want to work for a nonprofit post-graduation. This trip will allow me to really see how working for a nonprofit has impacted people’s lives, and put me one step further in deciding if it is the path I want to take.

Personally, this trip will develop me by challenging me as an individual. Growing up in a small town can definitely have its benefits; it gives you a sense of security. But, a consequence of this is you grow up extremely shelter. My hometown is predominantly white, Christian affiliated, and there is not a lot of variation in household income. Up until attending the University of Pittsburgh I was concealed from diversity, very comfortable with being routine, and hated change. This trip will definitely help me expand my views as a person, and expose me to a culture that is different from my own. I will develop a different style of communication skills through collaboration with members of CEOLI, and learn about business in another part of the world. It will also teach me how to transition from my own tendencies to adapt to another culture. I am excited to engage with the culture of Bolivia, and gain a broader perspective of the world.

I look forward to continuing to blog as our journey with CEOLI progresses!