“What are your plans for spring break?” Cochabamba, Bolivia

My name is Cross Kotrozo and I am currently at sophomore in the College of Business Administration at the University of Pittsburgh. I anticipate graduating in the spring of 2021 with the intent of majoring in Finance and Supply Chain Management, minoring in applied statistics, and obtaining a certificate in business analytics. Professionally, I hope that my anticipated degree allows me to have a career in the logistics or analytics field. I am excited to announce that I have recently accepted a logistics/procurement internship with dck worldwide for this summer. I hope that this experience enhances my want to work in this field and allows me to better my understanding my working in the real world.

Personally, my two biggest strengths are competitiveness and communication, which I think is a great representation of my attitude and personality. I am a motivated student both in the class and outside the classroom, which only adds fuel to my competitive nature. I try to challenge myself to not only do what is expected of me, but also try to find ways to acquire the maximum experience from each academic opportunity. This willingness to always keep improving, combined with my passion for communicating with others to achieve a common goal, is one of the main reasons why I took this Global Service Learning class. I wanted to take a class that allowed me to think outside the box, instead of simply memorizing formulas and definitions. I wanted to take a class that was going to enhance my knowledge of not only service learning, but how business is conducted in the real world.

I am part of the Bolivia consulting team working alongside with Amizade, a Pittsburgh based non-profit organization that specializes in Global Service Learning, and CEOLI, a Cochabamba based non-profit social institution that focuses on the educational development of young children with physical and intellectual disabilities. Just through my first few weeks of collaboration with my team, we have noticed that this course is way different than any other class we have ever taken before. So far we have learned a few key lessons about Global Service Learning that I would like to share:

  1. Service learning is not the same as community service. This seems like a pretty easy concept to understand, but when asked to discussed about how the two are different it gets a little more complex. While a successful community service effort focuses on volunteerism, donating, and/or time commitment, service learning needs much more than that to be achieved successfully for students. First, students need to be engaged. In class, we discussed the difference between authentic and artificial engagement, which again seems to have a pretty simple outer layer, but in fact has a much deeper analysis to it. Authentic engagement can only be acquired when a student is prepared for discussion about the topic, curious about the discussion, and willing to hear multiple perspectives and opinions in order to overcome any narrow minded thoughts. On the other hand, artificial engagement is practically the complete opposite of authentic engagement. The key to a successful service learning experience is ability to gain transferable skills and apply them in another area. For example, problem solving is a transferable skill, as it can be learned in the classroom, but is only truly useful when that skill is developed in the real world. We refer to this concept as self-efficacy. In order to receive that self-efficacy, the student must not only possess the knowledge to achieve a goal, but also use that knowledge in their real world experiences. Another relevant example is using my Culture Smart book to learn about the cultural in Bolivia, but now I need to use that knowledge in my experiences in Bolivia to truly achieve that self-efficacy effect. Therefore, Community Service and Service Learning actually have more differences than similarities. In fact, studies have shown that course-based service have benefits over the “generic” community service.  
  2. The Scope of Work (SOW) is the essential framework for any project, especially when there are multiple parties involved. For our team, we are trying to establish realistic common goals between our team, Pitt Business, Amizade, and CEOLI. Therefore, the scope of work is a way of formulating a basis between our client, CEOLI and our project team. When we first started talking about a scope of work, I personally thought it was going to rather simple, right? Just throw together a document with a general purpose, some rather detailed objectives and outcomes, add some resources and a timeline and we would be go to proceed on the project, correct? NOT AT ALL. Our team learned the value placed on a scope of work not only with this project, but in the real world of business. With the scope being the “basis for any and all changes that take place during the planning and executive of the project”(Writing an Effective SOW, Murrell), the SOW needs to be as detailed, achievable, and coherent as possible for all parties involved. Dean Murrell talked about an example that she experience in one of her consulting projects, where a client wanted to change the details about the project, however she pointed the clint in the direction to solve the discrepancy. When we talked about this specific example is when I truly understood how important the scope was and how much time we needed to put into our scope as a team.

Finally, I want to discuss my overall goals of taking this global service-based class. Personally, I cannot wait to travel to the country of Bolivia and take in a week full of unique experiences and food! It’s one thing to work with an organization like CEOLI on paper, but to actually see the school, faculty, and students is an experience that I am looking very forward to. Academically, as mentioned before, I hope to expand my comfort zone by thinking outside the box and working in a team for a full semester instead of just a project or two. Finally, Professionally, I hope this class prepares me to become a more well rounded student, as I will not only be learning about service-based learning but also how to conduct business globally which is essential to any business student.