Hasta Luego Bolivia

Over the past semester, I have had time to reflect on the experiences our team had. There have been many lessons for us to learn throughout the process. The key skills that I learned have been in regard to teamwork and accountability. The group had never been in a class together, and some hadn’t met before. Our interpersonal communication relationship help open the door for our discussions. Our conversations allowed each team member to give their voice on the topic at hand. With regards to accountability, we all relied on one another to get our work done. With the real-world application of this project, we all learned to work on a deadline. If one person did not contribute their fair share to the project, we would all suffer. We learned to trust one another throughout the consulting work, creating a streamlined process with distinct roles and responsibilities. By creating a bond with the other team members, we were able to create a comfortable working environment. We all worked towards a shared goal. 

Our decisions had to be made based on the benefits for all involved. When working as a consultant, it is important to keep the interests of all parties in mind. This was a lesson we learnt early on in the semester and helped us ultimately develop stronger deliverables to the client. Our experience in the Global Service-learning program taught us to take a step back, in order to gain a new perspective. By viewing problems through the eyes of all parties involved, we were more in tune with their needs and desires from us. This perspective shift allowed us to design our sales channels with that described at CEOLI. This is a lesson that will remain applicable throughout all areas of communication, and business as a whole. In order to truly understand a person, a client, or a business is to step into their shoes and view the situation in a different light. 

This experience has given me many valuable career skills that will help me tremendously, both this summer and beyond. The small set-up of our team allowed us to create distinct roles and responsibilities and developed the need for fluid communication across all team members. As a marketing major, this style of group work is especially prevalent in my future. Teams are involved in all aspects of a career in marketing. This experience has also allowed me to learn many important interpersonal communication skills. Our social media work for CEOLI had us develop content representing an organization. Social media is different in each country, and we had to keep that in mind when designing our content. In addition, I had the ability to design social media campaigns for an organization. We analyzed the sales periods that would be best for CEOLI card sales. Before this project, I had limited experience in the content development field. However, this experience allowed me to explore and be creative while still speaking with the “voice” of CEOLI. Our team also developed a series of posts that told the story of the organization. This was something different than marketing through card advertising and required us to put the mission of CEOLI into words. The knowledge we gained through speaking with the staff allowed us to better represent the organization from the United States. Overall, the experience allowed me to gain valuable insights on how international business is conducted, and I plan to use these skills as I move forward, both in the classroom and in my career.  

Before going in-country, I was unsure how to feel or what to expect. I expected to learn a lot, but not in the ways it actually played out. Many of my personal expectations were true, but not culturally. I expected myself to be uncomfortable at first, arriving in Bolivia for the first time. I knew it would take time to connect with the people at CEOLI, and that I’d learn to appreciate that relationship. By the end of the trip, I felt like I had a much better understanding of our responsibilities for the overall project. I had been told by classmates who went on previous GSL trips to Bolivia that the trip was impactful and emotional. When we first returned, I was unable to describe how special the organization really is. But over the past few weeks I have looked at my notes from Cochabamba and been able to reflect. I can now better understand the goals of CEOLI, and the importance of their work. 

Throughout the week in Bolivia, I kept thinking about the Culture Smart book from class that we had used as research before going in-country. I had no previous experience traveling to South America and was excited to experience the culture. There were more aspects to the city of Cochabamba than I could have imagined. We were able to explore the city in a way that made us feel less like tourists. I could not have expected a better introduction to Cochabamba, or the city as a whole. There were also many areas global business etiquette that I expected would be different. However, our meetings with the management and staff of CEOLI felt like conversations. The social media team was able to interview employees in order to hear them tell their stories. They gave us the key words that highlight the main  By the end of the week, both parties felt much more comfortable communicating ideas to the other. I expected interactions with the client to be difficult, but everyone we asked were open and positive to our requests. This was a reoccurring theme that I will take away from the in-country experience. No matter how poorly their situation looks from the outside, the people of CEOLI love what they do and have made a commitment to the children and the community to provide assistance to the children. I did not expect their attitude and mindset with regards to their financial situation. This was a really refreshing experience in the sense that business was conducted with belief and a positive outlook. 

Outside of CEOLI, I expected to use my Spanish in the city in order to better interact with other people I met. I found the experience useful to hone both my verbal and written Spanish skills when even traveling around the city. I was able to read the graffiti and understand another layer to the Bolivian culture. Even through small patches of conversation, I was able to build relationships with children I interacted with at CEOLI. By introducing myself in Spanish repeatedly, I could build trust. This allowed conversations to be more open and show our good intentions. I also expected bargaining at the Bolivian markets, but I was not as good as I expected. I was quickly shut down on my first attempt, and from that point left negotiating to our tour guide. This was an aspect of Bolivian culture that was mentioned 

Our team encountered many challenges while in Bolivia. However, we were able to pivot and adjust to the situation. As well as dealing with the problem of some rough food, the social media team needed to capture many photos of CEOLI and the children in order to properly capture the story of the organization. We needed to make sure we stayed within the ethical boundaries and the Amizade social media guidelines. The team had to make sure to keep faces out of the images, and it changed our thinking for content development. We overcame this challenge by taking more photos of the school and the activities provided to the children. When taking photographs of the children making cards, we made sure to only include the backs of their heads. We were still able to capture a wide variety of images to use in our posts and adhere to all of the guidelines given to us before our departure.