“If mosquitoes were made of chocolate, the Amazon trip would have been perfect,” said Yirama “Catalina” Medina, an International Business Honors (IB Honors) major in the College of Business Administration, with a second major in economics.
One of students from Florida International University to journey deep into the Amazon rainforest—part of the first-time offering of the course in the university’s Honors College—Medina was interested because of her “fascination about the world,” and her desire “to travel everywhere I can.”
Equally important was her commitment to service, a commitment she could fulfill on the Amazon trip, which centers on community service projects.
She had already participated in a college Global Leadership and Service Project (GLSP) to Thailand, spending ten days in Bangkok working at a pre-school that rescues children living on the streets. Her interest in education prompted her to develop an Amazon project “to study the effect of external influences on the education system” in the remote area where the group was based.
Students seek ways to make experience sustainable.
Post-trip, group members are working to establish a new university student organization called Pathfinders, designed to manage entrepreneurial initiatives in the locale. Medina’s business courses have given her the background to propose efforts such as micro-lending as a way to “create more and longer-term projects,” she said.
And despite the mosquitoes, she felt “the environment is just magical, and the harmony of the birds, frogs, and rain, beautiful.”
Another IB Honors student helps with logistics.
Norman Uriarte, an IB Honors major, who has participated in multiple GLSPs, including one he organized to Nicaragua in late 2005, early 2006, in addition to having gone on a study abroad program to Australia, organized by the university’s Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER), is deeply committed to the idea of global service projects .As vice president of Panorama Services and Travel, he handled much of the travel planning, including the international flights through Grupo TACA.
“I was able to talk to the professors—James R. Riach, instructor, Department of Environmental Studies, and fellow of the Honors
College; and Devon L. Graham, adjunct professor, Honors College—who teach the course and led the trip about my experiences, about what worked and what didn’t,” he said.
For more information about the course and the Amazon trip, which occurred during July, 2008, visit http://hon.fiu.edu/~peru.