Some aspects of the second Global Leadership and Service Project (GLSP)–Bangkok, which took place from March 16-26, 2006, were just the same as the inaugural trip: two of the sites at which students worked and the feelings the experience brought out.
Some aspects were different: a more formalized plan to guide the work, the addition of one new site, the greater involvement of two service clubs from Thai universities, and the inclusion of three students from outside the College of Business Administration and its International Business Honor Society (IBHS).
The Klong Toey Community School and the Association for the Promotion of the Status of Women (APSW) remained on the schedule, while the Children’s Creativity Foundation (CCF), another community school, was added.
“The objective for the two children’s sites was to provide cultural, hygienic, and self-promotion education to impoverished children from ages three to twelve who would not receive this education otherwise,” said Stephanie Moreta, project coordinator and site leader for the Klong Toey Community School.
Milvia Suarez led the CCF project and students from two Thai universities—Rajabhat Chandraksen and Chulalongkorn—also participated at both children’s sites to help translate and implement the curriculum the IBHS students developed.
Since the first GLSP–Bangkok, the objective of the APSW site has been to establish a business plan for marketing textile products the women make so the items can be sold in the United States. Such sales will help keep the non-profit running and also will serve as jobs for the women so that they can become functional members of society.
“The women at APSW are either ex-prostitutes, mentally or physically abused, or have HIV/AIDS, and many of them have children,” said site leader Adriana Perez who also served as chairperson of the GLSP project.
Students from two other U.S. universities won scholarships to join the group: Karen Uhring, University of Missouri-St. Louis (UMSL) and Jacob Pierce, Boise State University, both of whom demonstrated a commitment to community service.
“For me, the most memorable experience was the ‘house tour’ of the children’s homes in Klong Toey,” Uhring said. “I will never forget how proudly each of them presented their homes and introduced us to their families.”
Pierce shared her reaction.
“Upon seeing their homes, I had an epiphany in the true sense of the word,” he said. “I learned that my role in promoting social justice is not to fulfill their lack of things but to work along the side of education that brings awareness and a desire for change.”
Uhring and Pierce are planning GLSPs at their own schools—exactly what the college’s student organizers hoped would happen by including students from other universities.
“We currently are exploring the best implementation strategy, which will most likely begin with the chartering of an IBHS chapter on our campus,” Uhring said.
“After seeing the success and great working model the IBHS has established with its GLSP, I’ve been inspired to do the same at my home university,” Pierce said. “Having lived in Mexico, I have a few contacts I will be calling upon to see about their needs and the possibilities of organizing and executing a GLSP there.”
Cécilia Serin was the GLSP’s first international participant. She attends the International University of Monaco, which is going to become the first international IBHS to be chartered by the college’s national model chapter, empowered to charter other IBHS chapters globally.
“I had the opportunity to work at all the sites, but I spent more time in APSW, where I interviewed three women,” she said. “Their stories had a strong impact on me, as if I was faced with a reality that the world wants to ignore. Afterwards, I was even more determined to do whatever I could to help those women.”
She looks forward to establishing a GLSP with the support of her university and partners in Indonesia, where she already has worked on projects for more than a year.
“My university is willing to encourage students to get involved in community service, and my Indonesian partners have asked for students to come and work on projects,” she said.
After a thorough debriefing, IBHS president Mark Elbadramany and IBHS members will begin to work on the GLSP–Bangkok 2007, at which their Thai partners are expected to play an even greater role.
“The GLSPs are a community service vehicle, which we describe as a ‘dual side experience without frontiers,'” said Robert Hogner, associate professor of management and international business and coordinator of the college’s Civic Engagement Initiative, who accompanied the students for the second time. “They help students understand their future role and responsibilities as international leaders by understanding the global environment in which they’ll be working.”
Another group of humanitarians recently returned from the first GLSP to Nicaragua and plan a second trip this summer.