My STEP signature project was a Fisher Global Non-Profit Project where I worked on a team of 3 other students to help provide innovative business solutions for CBC Tupay. CBC Tupay is a travel agency that is a part of the NGO, Centro Bartolomé de las Casas. Throughout the past Spring semester, I participated in weekly calls and strategy sessions with my team to figure out how best to help them grow their rural tourism business and gain recognition. In May, I traveled to Cusco, Peru with my team as well as 8 other students to have the opportunity of working with CBC Tupay in person.
This experience has been incredibly beneficial to my personal growth in a number of ways. I primarily wanted to participate in this program to gain more experience with consulting, but this experience has resulted in much more than just that. I gained a lot of experience with working with people who speak a different language and conducting cross-cultural business. Learning about how to do business in a different country is a skill that I believe will benefit me in the future no matter where I go with my career. Being able to go to Cusco and experience the culture as well as meeting the people that we have been communicating with for months was incredibly rewarding. It was amazing seeing that the work of my team is making an impact. It also me a better understanding of the scope of the project. Although the scope was explained to us, there are some aspects that I was only able to fully understand after arriving in Peru. This taught me how to adapt and be flexible which is something that I will be able to use in the future in any job. This experience also pushed me out of my comfort zone which is something that I am extremely grateful for. It pushed me to use my knowledge of the Spanish language to communicate with the locals and the rural community natives as well as a get a glimpse into their day to day lives. Overall, I am now much more comfortable with embracing new situations and appreciating the opportunities that come along with stepping outside of my comfort zone.
One aspect of my trip to Cusco was traveling to the rural communities. These are the communities that CBC Tupay offers for various tour experiences. Ultimately CBC works to create sustainable business practices within these communities which is why it was so special getting to experience the amazing tours that these communities put together as well as building relationships with the people. Throughout the two weeks, we held a number of workshops for the rural communities in Cusco where we were able to understand their needs on the business side as well as getting to know them on a personal level. When we finally traveled to their communities, about an hour away from Cusco, they taught us about their ways of life. This is something that I had never imagined myself doing on my own and is definitely not a trip that I would have ever thought of to do on my own. I am so happy that this project pushed me out of my comfort zone which resulted in a cross-cultural exchange of ideas that I will remember forever.
Another aspect that contributed to a transformation was traveling to an unfamiliar place. Although I have traveled out of the country before, this trip was unique to all of my previous experiences. I traveled with a group of eleven other students-I had only previously met three of them- and I would be spending two weeks with them in a foreign country. We spent two weeks learning about the culture and practicing our Spanish skills while working to put together the projects that we had been working on for the past semester. We quickly grew to know each other personally and professionally as we worked together and explored Cusco together. Building these relationships with Fisher students so quickly is something that I will cherish as we all adapted and learned together in our new environment.
A third aspect was seeing the impact that our work had on the people living in the rural communities. They were all so eager to learn from the workshops which taught them about social media use, how to take pictures for their social media, as well as how to price their services. Teaching them about the difference between variable and fixed costs was so rewarding because it is something that seems so simple to us yet was a completely new concept to the community members. Teaching them just this one concept makes such a large difference and ultimately will help them become more profitable in the future. This is also a practice that will help them understand their costs and how to price their goods and services which will lead to more sustainable long-term business practices. As they begin to incorporate these practices in their business, they will experience growth and hopefully more and more tourists will be seeking out these rural tourism experiences.
This experience is one that will push me to step outside of my comfort zone in the future and look for opportunities that enrich me culturally. Peru is somewhere that I never thought I would travel to, but my two weeks there showed me that I really enjoyed being placed in a new environment with a new group of people and working together. My favorite aspect was experiencing a new culture and being truly immersed in it by traveling to the rural communities in the mountains. In the future, I hope to travel a lot more and it would be great if I could incorporate that into my career. I think that doing business in another country where I have the opportunity to experience and appreciate a different culture is something that I will do more of in the future. There is a lot to learn from each other and it is a chance to grow both personally and professionally. As a result of this experience, I would like to explore consulting as a future career.
As a result of this experience, a new personal goal of mine is to travel more. This was my first experience traveling without any family in a different country. I made memories that I look back on with a smile and wish I could go back. I now want to have more and more experiences like this in the future where I am immersed in a new culture and have the opportunity to learn from those around me. I hope to travel both for my enjoyment, but also would love to be able to travel for work in my career. I think that the intra-cultural exchange is incredibly valuable and that everyone can learn something. I look forward to more experiences like my two weeks in Peru in the future and I will seek out these opportunities to step outside of what I may be used to in my day to day life.