After a two-year hiatus, the Sorrell College of Business’ Sorrell Society of Global Scholars returned to Ecuador over spring break with 15 students to concentrate on global business practices and service learning.
The Global Scholars Program is an honors program within the College designed to promote global citizenship and to nurture some of the College’s exceptional students through travel, networking events and a challenging curriculum. The trip is designed for freshmen students.
Under the leadership of Global Scholars Program Director Dr. Clint Relyea and Sorrell 360 Center for Professional Life Director Dr. Laura Dove, the 10-day trip included a five-day stay in Salinas de Guaranda, a tiny village nestled at roughly 13,000 feet elevation in the Andes Mountains.
“The economy in Salinas is built on micro-industry. Under the coordination of a co-op, nearly a dozen small businesses manufacture a variety of produces for import and export including cheeses, chocolate, dried mushrooms and fruit, clothing, yarn and others,” Relyea said. “It’s the core of the Ecuador study abroad program.”
While there, small teams of students rotated through each factory both observing and helping manufacture the goods side-by-side with the workers.
“From gathering mushrooms on the mountainside, to rolling chocolate truffles, to working in an office setting, the Global Scholars participated in all aspects of producing products ready for the marketplace,” Dove said.
The students, she said, gain a practical understanding of what it takes for small economies to thrive.
“Working in various micro-industries in Salinas de Guaranda was an unforgettable experience where we were immersed within a culture much different from our own,” said Belle Myrick, a Global Business major who is minoring in Spanish.
“The experience helped me gain a global perspective . . . and an appreciation for their culture. I was also able to apply what I learned in Spanish classes to real-life situations through interactions with the people I worked with,” she said. “I’m so glad I had the opportunity to go.”
Another aspect of the trip was a service-learning component that teamed the scholars with the town’s Senior Center, which was the recipient of $10,000 from the group’s pre-trip fundraising efforts.
“The group was proud to raise more than $10,000 – in excess of their original $6,000 goal – which purchased not only medicine and other essentials for the Senior Center, but also 10 sheep for the nearby village of Yacubana,” Relyea said.
Meridian Integration, an international leader in digital engagement, implementation, upgrade and consulting services for the utility industry based in Jacksonville, FL, provided a welcomed shot-in-the-arm to the Global Scholars’ fundraising efforts with a $4,000 contribution.
“In particular, Meridian’s contribution enabled the additional support which was an unexpected and welcomed surprise for the people of Salinas and Yacubana,” Relyea said.
In addition to the time in Salinas, the trip also included a historical and cultural tour of Quito and an overview of Ecuador’s history and economy. The students spent two days in Baños to acclimate to the altitude. The trip concluded with two days on the coast in Salinas Beach, giving students a full picture of Ecuador’s diverse environments.