Another Journey!

Hello, my name is Jordan Armstrong and I am a sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh. I am currently majoring in Supply Chain Management and Finance while also pursuing a Certificate in Leadership and Ethics. While at Pitt, I was able to join Phi Beta Lambda, a professional business organization, where I currently serve as the Vice President of Service. In this role, I have gained valuable leadership experience and learned about collaboration and problem solving. Additionally, I am the Co-Vice President of Communications for a new club on campus called Emerging Business Issues. This organization provides students with a platform to discuss current business events and address anything they may be interested in (from topics about technology to the changing workplace culture.) Being involved and giving back to my community is of the upmost importance to me. However, I recognize that community service and service learning are different concepts. Community service emphasizes serving others while service-learning has a curriculum-based component. Service-learning has a reflective component and there are goals set. I have experience with participating in community service, but service-learning provides greater benefits to the individual performing the service when compared to community service. I am extremely grateful and excited to combine my passion for service learning with my interest in consulting.

I am originally from Montgomery County, Pennsylvania or “outside of Philly” as I more regularly say. I was born in Philadelphia and up until the 6th grade, I attended a diverse school where the minority was the majority. Through this, I have seen firsthand the power of diversity and how it can change the way people think. I’ve always been invested in my community which was only enhanced through my part-time job in high school. I have worked ever since I was legally allowed to do so. Beginning my freshmen year of high school, I worked as a front desk receptionist at my local gym. It started as a way for me to finance a school trip to Italy, but it turned into so much more. I have developed meaningful relationships with people of varying racial, economic, and political statuses. Each and every person I interacted with has provided me with knowledge that I am able to apply to my daily life. My life became dedicated to work and school so coming to Pittsburgh and not having my job was strange. After a year at Pitt and figuring out how to juggle my school and social life, I researched on-campus jobs. Last semester, I began working as an office assistant in the University of Pittsburgh’s Business & Auxiliary Services Office. This position has provided me with professional workplace experience as well as providing me with opportunities to improve my computer skills and further my customer service skills. Being connected to my school’s community is also important to me. I served as President of my high school’s student council as well as Vice President of a community service club called Kids Against Crisis where we created and carried out lesson plans to kids of a nearby economically disadvantaged neighborhood. I have always sought out opportunities to broaden my perspective on life. Because of the wonderful experiences I had, I continue to seek out opportunities such as this one. Which brings me to my interest in the Bolivia Global Service-Learning program!

This March, I will be traveling to Cochabamba Bolivia with my peers to consult for Amizade, a global service-learning nonprofit, to obtain a reliable and consistent source of income for CEOLI, a center for disabled youth and adults. One of the main sources of income for this organization are cards that the students create. There two types of cards: adult and children. The cards created by the adults are originals while the children use stencils. This semester, we will be focusing on increasing the sale of the cards. My team and I are exploring new and current channels of sales to decide which are the best to pursue. Additionally, my group is investigating another source of income: a juice stand. This juice stand is expected to be run by students during the off hours of the school. My group will be concerned with developing an initial business plan for this idea. Our participation with Amizade comes at a hard time. Bolivia is currently experiencing political unrest with the recent election. Concerns have been brought up regarding the legitimacy of the election since the unexpected candidate won over the former president. This has impacted our scope of work since funding and participation from various sources has been pulled. Therefore, my team and I must research ways to compensate for these losses.

As mentioned before, I care deeply about my local community as well as others so I am eager to help in any way I can. Another reason for my motivation is that I hope to learn more about fundraising and running a nonprofit since a dream job of mine would be work abroad and do something relating to the community. Exploring various places around the world will help me to become more culturally aware of my surroundings and teach me how I can integrate my knowledge into foreign communities better. Non-profits operate differently depending on the location. So, if I wish to work abroad and work with the community, I will need to learn how to do so. Immersion will help me view the non-profit industry from a different perspective and I can continue to learn more about it. It is inevitable that I will come back a different person. There is so much to learn from traveling abroad, and even more when it’s a service project. One of the things I’m most looking forward to developing is my cross-cultural communication skills. Of course, you would expect to improve on your language skills, but it’s the non-verbal communication skills that are just as important. Learning to decipher facial expressions and gestures and using these same gestures to communicate my ideas. I believe that exposure to international experiences are essential to my growth as a person, and a business student. Participating in a this program will give me the opportunity to explore a new culture, learn more about their economy and educational system, and gain life experiences. I know that being immersed in a culture different from my own will challenge me to adapt to diverse situation and teach me about problem solving. In order to be successful in a global market you have to understand the market you are in and the cultural constraints that you will encounter. Studying abroad will give me some experience in navigating these waters. There is much to learn from studying abroad and I’m excited for you to follow my journey.