Self Improvement Journey Through Global Service Learning

Hello, I’m Roslynne Ravy. This is my fourth year in college, but only my second year studying at the University of Pittsburgh. My interest of study is environmental science with a certificate in global studies: ecology and sustainability. I am involved in a couple of organizations in Pittsburgh including being a Pitt Pathfinder and a service committee chair representative for Epsilon Eta an environmental service fraternity.

How I got academically to the place I am, was not always an easy road. For me, learning, understanding, and being smart were not characteristics that shined on me, but they were traits I had to develop and work hard to gain. If it were not for the fantastic and passionate educators throughout my academic and professional career, I would most likely be on a different journey. This year I was given a chance to work with an environmental consulting organization. My time as an intern has challenged me to plan collectively at more extensive projects, but initially focus on the smaller steps to get there. Before working at my internship, I initially felt my commination skills were a strong suit of mine. Fortunately, I was confronted with obstacles that made me aware of the way I communicated my thoughts and ideas. I as well gained new approaches when dealing with tasks I was unfamiliar with. I think clarification is essential to the job asked to be done and working with new people has given me the confidence to ask when something is unclear or to think outside the box when the answer is clear in no one. I have applied these skills to my regular service projects to provide a more significant outcome.

Being passionate in this field leads to many opportunities to engage with service projects and community members who are looking to take charge of becoming sustainable to benefit our planet and positively impact their community. Service and helping others have always been a passion of mine, and I love being surrounded by others who are looking to make a difference. I thrive off this energy. Global Service Learning like many others I compared it to programs such as Habitat for Humanity that I took part in during my sophomore year at college. However, this was not the factor that drawled me into an opportunity like this one.

Being Puerto Rican has always made me aware of the problems that affected Puerto Rico because so much of my family is located on the island. Although it wasn’t the worst to happen to Puerto Rico, Hurricane Maria created a difficult decision in many Puerto Ricans including family members of mine if it was time to leave the island. The thought of the island left with only a small population residing in the next 30 years placed a heavy weight on my heart and a need to find out what I could do to help. It was then I decided to learn about different sustainable practices in hopes of assisting Puerto Rico to become what is a fantasy in my mind become a sustainable island. My passion leaked out into my school work and when this opportunity arose my professors within the environmental science department did not hesitate to contact me. Learning about this Global Service-Learning program for Puerto Rico excited me to learn more about the project and to get started. This class provided me with the fantastic opportunity to not only learn about the environmental projects going on in Puerto Rico but to view the business side of ecological projects.

As a fourth-year Environmental Science student, I have learned a lot about what it means to be a professional in this field. Our ideas, research, and information must be delivered in a way so that perspectives which do not usually look at the world from an environmental frame of mind can understand why this matter and why they should care. It is, for this reason, I found the nonprofit organizations in Puerto Rico so interesting in the way they choose to impact the island and its people.

Caras con Causa was founded in 2004 by a group of university students who wanted to impact change within the Latin American community. Their mission is to create social justice through the inspiring work of education. Their goals as an organization are not to work hard to improve one’s self-interest but to work hard to improve collectively as one unit. For Caras to achieve these goals, it is displayed through four interconnected programs community, ecology, economy, and education. Pitt Business plans to work towards this goal this to help the development of an on-site environmental laboratory. Located on the coastal area of Puerto Rico in the community of Cataño is the baseline for their project to preserve the urban wetlands. This project is year one in a 10-year plan to create a fully functioning environmental laboratory that provides a substantial income revenue for Caras.

Being apart of a class like this one will be an incredibly beneficial experience. I’m excited to interact with the workers Caras and experience their excitement for a project that can truly impact a community. It’s important to be around passionate people to remind yourself in the hard days why you do the things to do and I feel having this experience to reflect on will get me through some of those times. I also plan to see an increase in myself academically due to the intensity of a project like this one. Along with my daily academic tasks I need to be able to time manage correctly to get work done effectively and efficiently. A huge beneficiary is working in a group of passionate, hardworking people. After a few weeks of working and building a relationship with my teammates, I can happily conclude that this project has allowed me to believe in the power of group work. Already in the scope of work I have learned so much from my teammates with their constructive words to improve my communication skills. Communication is a crucial ability when working in any field and developing on this ability will help me advance me further in my career.