Business students sew hope and seam memories in Peru

By Brittany Pumphrey

It’s not every day that an opportunity arises to change someone’s life, but for the College of Business, the chance presented itself.

Two professors and five graduate students recently visited two towns in Peru to oversee a company entitled Threads of Hope.

The organization is a group of about 20 women who hand sew patterns into usable items such as oven mitts and Bible cases.

Once they are completed, the items are sent to a distribution center in Plano, Texas, to be sold.

The graduate students’ responsibility on the trip was to collect research and provide feedback for the business.

Members of the College of Business fly the UMHB flag in Peru. The group went to learn and serve at a local business. Courtesy photo

Associate Professor and Director of the MBA program Dr. Terry Fox was one of the professors who went on the trip. Fox enjoyed his time in Peru and called it an incredible experience.

He described the two villages, Lima and Ayacucho, in which the students spent their time.

“Belton is a world away from Lima, and Lima is a world away from Ayacucho,” Fox said.

Lima is the city where the women worked and sewed the items together. There, the team took time with the women, learning how the business works and taking notes. They also interviewed some of the workers during the process.

Fox said, “It was a fact- finding type of trip and … just meeting everyone was amazing. They were so open and welcoming.”

He described his trip as being more beneficial to him and the students than it was for the women in Lima.

Business management graduate student Michael Kattan also accompanied Fox on the trip. He describes his favorite part about his journey.

“The three-hour bike tour was really fun … some accidents happened, but it was fun.”

It was Kattan’s first time being introduced to a different environment other than the United States and his home country of Lebanon. He found it interesting to learn about the different cultures and the way they do things in Lima. However, he did find some similarities of his own culture.

“It reminds me of being back in my village by the way they dress,” Kattan said.

He also believes that they got more out of the experience than the natives just by learning how they ran their business.

“It was a great experience I will remember for a long time,” Kattan said.

Business administration graduate student Mary Beth Kelton was interested in going on the trip to help with the non-profit side; she was moved in more than one way.

“I enjoyed experiencing the differences in culture and working with the women directly. It was humbling to see poverty in real life. They were thankful for so little,” she said.

Kelton also learned team building on the trip. Every student had expertise in different areas, but the group’s main goal was to find a solution for the women.

She encourages students to go on trips outside of the United States and to do behind-the-scenes projects.

The hope of the group is that there will be a replicate program in Ayacucho like the one in Lima.

For more information on how to get involved and help the women in Lima, visit www.tohtexas.org.

Kelton hopes that students will join so that they can have a learning experience like she did.

She said, “The professors that went with us really cared about the students and cared about the project and research we were trying to do. We all made memories we will never forget.”

Author: The Bells Staff

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