“Sam I Am”: Adventure Awaits in Trinidad

Hello everyone! My name is Sam Delmont and I will be traveling to Matelot, Trinidad this spring break through a Global Service Learning course. I am very excited to be part of the third year of work with the DORCAS Women’s Group in their efforts towards enhancing the community through sustainable ecotourism.

Originally, I am from Lititz, Pennsylvania which is a small town just outside the city of Lancaster. In addition to my parents, I grew up as the middle child with two sisters. Coming from such a small town, I was drawn to the University of Pittsburgh for its proximity to a city full of life and things to do. In addition to the city atmosphere, the College of Business Administration was a major factor in my choice for its opportunities with study abroad.

I am currently a sophomore with a double major in Accounting and Business Information Systems, minors in Political Science and Economics and the Certificate for Leadership and Ethics. I chose business and more specifically accounting because I enjoyed that it has set rules and guidelines, but it is still constantly evolving and changing. There are specific frameworks to operate under, but aspects of the field are constantly developing and expanding so I will always be learning.

In addition to my academic life I also have an on-campus job as a student worker for Faculty Affairs for the School of Medicine. Outside of work and class, I am also involved in the service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega (APO) and I am co-Vice President of Finance for the University of Pittsburgh Accounting Association (UPAA).

The specific project I am working on this semester is being done in collaboration with Amizade, a non-profit organization that helps communities to manage sustainable initiatives all around the world. Through Amizade we are working directly with the DORCAS Women’s Group in Matelot, Trinidad. This group is an organization founded by women within the community with a goal to enhance and develop Matelot.

Currently in the area, there is not an abundance of jobs so younger generations are being forced to leave the community to seek work in more populous areas such as Port of Spain. The DORCAS Women’s Group has a vision to mitigate this need to leave the area, but they do not have the capacity to achieve it and this is where Pitt Business’s role is. Through a 10-year commitment, Pitt Business has a goal to aid the DORCAS Women’s Group in developing capacity so the community can develop a sustainable ecotourism business.

This year we will be participating in the third year of laying the foundation for this growth. Our specific goals for this year are to interact with the DORCAS Women’s Group to explore different mechanisms of professionalism and customer service while on site visits, understand the importance of environmental scans, and enhance relationships between the community organization and Pitt Business.

I was interested in this specific project because I knew I wanted to study abroad I just did not know how or where. I have been abroad before for both leisure and service, but never in this capacity. I backpacked through Europe after graduating high school and went to Spain, Austria, and Greece. In high school I went to Monte Criste in the Dominican Republic to teach elementary-aged children English for a week over thanksgiving. While these were both amazing experiences, I wanted to try something new and engage with a real client abroad and serve in a more meaningful way. While my past experiences taught me a lot, I have never engaged in a service learning project. While we will only be spending a week in-country, we are developing resources to leave behind that the DORCAS Women’s Group can implement and utilize even after we are gone. I was really drawn to this aspect of the course in that the impact we have will be lasting and beneficial even after we are no longer actively involved with the project.

Through this experience I hope to grow personally, academically, and professionally. Personally, I hope to enhance my cultural awareness by learning with the DORCAS Women’s Group. Not only will we be immersed in the culture while staying in the town, but we will also experience the business culture through site visits. Through this, I hope to grow my awareness of different cultures in both day-to-day affairs and in a business sense.

Academically, I hope to gain valuable experience applying what I have learned in the classroom. Through this experience I hope to see how the information we have learned is applicable with a real client. I am also excited to see how service learning is a “two-way street” and how we can leave behind a lasting impact on the DORCAS Women’s Group because they will have increased knowledge on professionalism they can implement again in the future. A specific academic goal I have is to take the time to reflect upon my experiences with this project and in-country to see the transferable skills I have learned and the impact of global service learning.

Professionally, I hope to gain experience learning alongside the DORCAS Women’s Group. Not only will we have the opportunity to interact with this group and the community, but we will also be going on site visits to organizations like Nature Seekers and KPMG. I believe these site visits will be valuable for me to develop professionally because I will be able to explore what I really understand about this environment while talking with the DORCAS Women’s Group prior to the visits. After the site visits when we debrief what we experienced on the visit along with what the DORCAS Women’s Group experienced, I believe I will continue to grow professionally hearing the take-aways of the group.

All in all, I am very excited for the opportunity to be part of this global service learning course and in-country experience because I think I will grow personally, academically, and professionally. Also, I think it will be an amazing opportunity to be able to experience a new culture and work and learn along side the DORCAS Women’s Group.