Since the first Global Leadership and Service Project (GLSP) took a group of Florida International University’s (FIU) international business students to Thailand to engage in community service, the event has gained traction. This year, the project’s fifth, brought a greater sense of permanence to the effort, an important new relationship a custom-made wedding dress for one of the students and an unusual fundraiser.
“Reaching the fifth year showed our Thai partners at Rajabaht Chandrakasem University that the GLSP is a commitment from FIU,” said Robert Hogner (“Dr. Bob”), the faculty advisor. “It also marked transition of the project to the Alternative Breaks (AB) office, which provides training and a clear idea of the purpose of the newly renamed AB-GLSP.”
Through a travel grant from the College of Business Administration, a student from University of Oklahoma joined the 14 FIU team members. Including students from other universities helps the GLSP concept spread.
Closeness transcends language.
Two groups worked at the Foundation for Slum Child Care and the third at Baan Rachawadee, a government-run center for people with disabilities.
“Despite the language barrier, we had great bonding activities with the kids,” said first-time participant Hector Mujica, site-leader at the slum locale.
The mutual affection radiates in a video Mujica made as well as in photos capturing interactions at the work sites and three days of sight-seeing. The latter spanned visits to a floating market, a rain forest, the ancient city and the Royal Palace as well as an elephant ride.
AB-GLSP, commerce and romance meld.
About to get married, but without the date yet set, Elaine Villalobos signed up for the trip. When all dates were settled, she realized her return would be within two weeks of the wedding.
“I began to look for a dress, but they were very expensive,” she said. “I asked Dr. Bob if there was a chance I could have one made in Bangkok . . . quickly.”
Hogner put her in touch with Duen Blauw, AB-GLSP liaison, who told her to bring an image of the dress she wanted-which sold for $4,000. Blauw took her to a street of dressmakers, where Villalobos selected a shop and fabric. Three days later, she had her wedding gown. It “fit like a glove,” and cost $300, including a tip for the seamstress.
Fundraising efforts get comic boost.
Participating students, fundraising activities, FIU’s Asian Studies Center, the Honors College and the business school financially support the AB-GLSP. Thanks to Paul Miniard, who teaches marketing and was an avid comic book collector between the ages of five and 40, future AB-GLSPs will have another source of funds: the proceeds from the sale of more than 7,000 comic books he donated to Hogner.
“I made the donation because of my respect for him and what he does for students and the community,” Miniard said.
Hogner plans to use the sale of the books to pay for upfront expenses and replenish the till as money comes in from other fundraisers.