Student Groups Abroad

Going into this trip, I really did not know what to expect, but it very quickly became one of the most impactful experiences I have ever had the privilege of being a part of. Going to Costa Rica took me out of my comfort zone in ways I have never experienced before, allowed me to face new challenges and grow alongside some amazing friends, and has forever changed my perspective.
I learned so much on this trip. We got to interact with a number of businessmen and women and explore new sides to business we may not see in domestic business in the U.S. We got to learn a lot about the Costa Rican government, economy, imports and exports, and a lot of other cool facts about the country. However, we were so blessed to get to explore beyond the business world. We got the opportunity to jump right in with the locals and learn about the lives of people in ways that a lot of other people don’t see. We got to work with an incredible organization to serve some really inspiring people and got to hopefully help make their world just a little bit brighter.

Overall, the trip taught me so much about people, the world, and how I fit into it. I could not be more thankful for this experience.

Categories: Costa Rica

I had quite the dilemma when deciding whether or not I should go on this micro-consulting trip within my first year of college. When deciding, I was advised to wait a year or two for the experience to be more insightful. However, if I had the opportunity to go to Panama this year, what about the next? What if some other opportunity or disastrous event caused me to keep on postponing the trip until I lost the chance to go? I talked myself into going, and I’m glad I did.

In Panama, we collaborated with micro-entrepreneurs to provide them with financial literacy education along with business development and counseling skills. My team and I provided workshops and developed presentation materials, which simplified basic business and financial concepts. However, before discussing any business aspects, we made sure to get interpersonal with our clients. Getting able to know our clients made the atmosphere comfortable and overall enjoyable. There was plenty of free time throughout the day. When meeting with clients, we got to play with their kids and enjoy their landscape. During the commute and back to the compound where we stayed, there was an abundance of beautiful, raw scenery to take in. Nothing like the brick-and-mortar jungle of urban America, so it was a nice change. 

Overall, I’m glad and grateful that I was able to go on this trip. There, I learned the importance of communication in business, regarding both multilingualism and clarifying/effective communication.

Categories: Panama

Howdy! Going to Costa Rica,  I had no prior expectations. During my time there, I was beyond welcomed by the people, and truly feel like I’ve gained a whole new perspective. Even though we were there for a short time, I got the chance to have so many different interactions with the people and culture and I learned so much more than I ever thought I would. Even though we did not get the chance to go and explore the beautiful jungles or see the beach, I think we got a unique opportunity to interact with the people that not many get to experience in their time in Costa Rica.

On our trip, We got the chance to have a couple of business visits and learn more about the country’s government as well as what it looks like to operate a business in this country’s economy. It was very interesting to learn about a different country’s business practices and how they may differ from the United States. We also got many service opportunities to love and help those who needed it most. In these service outreaches, we had the opportunity to work with young girls who were abused, and in some cases, care for their children as well. It was absolutely heartbreaking to see these girls. Contrary to what you might think though, these girls were full of joy despite the pain they went through. Although our help may seem small, I am beyond thankful to have had the opportunity to help in any way that I could.

This trip was truly so impactful and I feel like I have a better well-rounded view of Costa Rica as a whole now.

Categories: Costa Rica

I’ve had many great experiences at TAMU Mays since my freshman year, including 2 other study abroads, but this was by far the best trip I’ve been a participant in. Getting to travel with a group of 16 other business students, who are also my friends through Christian Business Leaders, made for a loaded experience. I liked seeing my friends, some of who had never been out of the country, adapt to their surroundings. Getting to be with people who are so in tune with their faith was inspiring, and serving others was a great experience. We had 2 company visits, and as a finance major, the one that intrigued me more was visiting a private equity firm focused on growing companies that have the community and environment in mind. They find ways to inspire economic and educational growth in Costa Rica and surrounding countries while not damaging the rich ecosystem that naturally exists. 

While this trip was only a few days long, it was so filled with activities and work that we didn’t have too much free time. In fact, for me, it was just about a full-time job! Our group worked really hard to understand some spanish before going, and while it helped, there were some gaps to be filled. I am a fluent speaker, and therefore I was constantly translating and helping with communication; I feel that this was a good experience for me and it made me think about whether I could work as a translator. I’m glad this is how I spent my spring “break”!

Categories: Costa Rica

Howdy! I had the privilege of going to Costa Rica this Spring break, and I can honestly say that I truly learned a lot from this experience. One of the first things I noticed was how intentional every Costa Rican is with their time. Unlike the United States, the people of Costa Rica are not always on the go, but they find time for a mid-day coffee visit with friends, or just sitting and enjoying each other’s company. The hospitality of Costa Rica is something that I couldn’t have ever imagined. Everywhere we went we were served with open arms, even if we were supposed to be the ones serving. 

While we were there, we were able to visit with a few different business-oriented people. One of which was a representative from the U.S. Embassy of Costa Rica. It was very interesting to learn the roles of each individual and what working in the U.S. Embassy really entails. We were also able to hear about the governmental differences between the U.S. and Costa Rica. I feel as if it is really hard to realize that other countries do things differently and different things work better for individual countries. 

Finally, I learned a lot about the power of service on this trip. Over our short time abroad, we were able to provide service to three different organizations. The first of which, was helping watch the children of teenage girls in government housing, so they were able to go to school. Secondly, we had the opportunity to help clean up and repaint a community center in one of the most impoverished areas of Costa Rica. Lastly, we were given the chance to visit with girls who were a part of a safe house. Now, none of these things were exactly what I was expecting for this trip. Nevertheless, each of these services projects impacted their individual organizations in a big way. This was something that was hard for me to see at first, but over time it was shown to me that any type of help was a blessing in disguise.

Categories: Costa Rica

Howdy!

Being a Texas A&M student, you become familiarized in an all too comfortable environment filled with rich tradition and friendly Aggies. So when the travel opportunity to do service work with a brigade in Panama presented itself, I knew I would regret the decision if I passed on it. Reflecting now, I can confidently say that the experience has helped further my interpersonal development skills and international perspective.

Our fourteen-person brigade team was divided into three subgroups, each being responsible for a distinct business need of the local Panamanian community bank and its members. Every day, we would wake early, have breakfast together, and get ready for the bus ride that would take us to where the community members met. It was in this communal routine that I felt a serendipitous way of living, where people are perpetually joined in a shared purpose to help others. With this clear sense of drive, I found that working with my fellow Aggies and our client, Noriel Velásquez, the owner of a hand-made furniture business, was an unforgettable feeling of reward. Seeing the gratitude on Noriel’s face as we developed advertising for his business and created a product catalog was a moment that helped me recognize the significance of why it is important to take the chance on trips such as Global Business Brigade of Panama.

If you have the opportunity to go on a similar trip such as this program, I would take action in a heartbeat. You will develop friendships with fellow aggies and indigenous people, while working on your consulting and cross-cultural communication skills. To this day, I am thankful for the philanthropic opportunity provided by GBB.

Categories: Panama

This past January during winter break,  I had the opportunity to travel to Panama with the Texas A&M organization, Global Business Brigades. We flew from Houston into Panama City, then we drove about 3 hours to a small village outside of the country’s capital. This trip gave us brigaders an opportunity to use the skills and lessons that we learned in our classes to help the local businesses of the Panamanian villagers.

All of us were separated into 3 groups, with my group focusing on helping a local furniture business. My group and I were able to use principles that we had learned in our finance, marketing, and accounting classes to help our client improve his business. This was such an amazing experience and I feel that every brigader on this trip left feeling that they had actually made a positive impact on their client’s livelihood.

Categories: Panama

One of the biggest blessings to come out of my third year here at Texas A&M is having the opportunity to lead, participate in, and embark on this trip to San Jose with sixteen fellow believers and CBLers. So much prayer and partnership among those of us in CBL, the CIBS office, WorldStrides, and countless others are what made this trip possible and I can’t thank everyone who helped get us to Costa Rica enough for their hard work.

Most importantly, I want to testify to the Lord’s faithfulness on this trip. I got to see firsthand the Spirit of God moving within the hearts of a city unknown to me. Getting to serve alongside multiple Costa Rican ministries and pastors and witness all that they are doing to further the Kingdom was an honor, unlike anything I have experienced before. This was only my second time traveling abroad, but my first time being entirely engulfed in a foreign culture. Despite the language barrier and cultural differences that were immediately noticeable upon arrival, I learned something very important on this trip. I learned that the God I serve transcends language, nationality, upbringing, and anything else we as humans allow ourselves to be separated by.

Once again, I cannot thank everyone enough who supported us leading up to this journey all the way to its end. To my team, I am beyond grateful to know each and every one of you and it was the greatest privilege serving with you. This trip was eye-opening in more ways than one and I hope to make my way back to Costa Rica in the near future!

Categories: Costa Rica

As we arrived in San Jose at 3 am on Sunday, we were greeted with a charter bus and a guide named Eddie who had the brightest smile. Eddie and the bus driver, Tuco, fearlessly drove us around the chaotic roads of the Grand Metropolitan Area of Costa Rica. Both of the Ticos radiated with pride for their country as they gave us a tour of the area and gave us a glimpse of the culture. 

On Monday, we had the incredible opportunity to engage with a service-learning project where we got to work with young children and were initially exposed to the limitations the Costa Rican bureaucratic red tape imposed when it came to funding and budgeting a ministry. Later, we got to visit a construction site for a safe house where we were informed on the procuring differences between nonprofit and profit companies. Additionally, we got a glimpse of the struggles Costa Ricans are currently experiencing with reliable labor amidst the pandemic. 

On the second day, we got to see firsthand what a developing country encompasses. After leaving the comfort of our two-course hotel breakfast, we went to a neighborhood that was rated an “8” on a scale of 1 (middle class) to 10 (severest poverty). Getting to serve in that community truly set the stage for the Senior Commercial Officer U.S. ambassador who we met with afterward. He presented with us how he works with U.S. companies to increase their revenue while employing Costa Ricans to help their unemployment rate. We initially giggled when we saw numerous McDonalds, Walmarts, KFCs, and Taco Bells but were later impressed when we realized it was helping their unstable labor market. Later that night, we got to explore the area, try local empanadas, practice our Spanish, and engage in fellowship.

On our last full day, we started off at a private equity firm called Mesoamerica. We were greeted with the typical Tico, over-the-top, hospitality: coffee, fruit, and smiles. During the investment management presentation, we were informed that there are three major values in Costa Rica and/or Latin America that one should prioritize when investing or consulting; they are decarbonization, decentralization, and conservation. Additionally, we discussed the volatility associated with investing in developing countries and learned about the programs being implemented to encourage Central Americans to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset. To end the afternoon, we had the privilege of meeting about 15 teenage girls where we got to laugh, dance, and discuss our greatest hope in life. Although this was not originally planned, we experienced what they call “Tico Time,” which is prioritizing spending time with people rather than being unadaptable.

If you are given the opportunity to study abroad, I highly recommend going! Learning about international business in a foreign country with a Socialist form of government helped me come to a better understanding of global markets. I also got to do it alongside 16 of some of my closest friends and had the time of my life. I cannot express my gratitude for this life-changing experience! Pura Vida & Study Abroad!

Categories: Costa Rica

When I first signed up for the program i really did not know what to really expect I had a general idea but not the full picture. When I left on the plane on the first day I was a bit anxious due to me having social anxiety and me being more introverted. When we first met the group in Panama and got to understand each other more I had a blast playing sports and such with the locals while also helping teach them about ways to help make their business grow and teach them about financial literacy. Locals there are extremally friendly and help us along the way with work to help teach others and along with the customs of the region. It was such a pleasant experience and also taught me to help view the world from a different set of eyes then the ones I have. Even as an introvert who is more to myself I could not recommend this program anymore to everyone! 

Categories: Panama