Up to 15 students will have the opportunity to practice servant leadership first-hand in the spring semester as part of an experiential learning opportunity that will take them to Puerto Rico.

Girl being fitted with Samaritan's Feet shoe

A spring semester CI will take students to Puerto Rico for a lesson in servant leadership
Image Credit: Submitted

Open to all business majors, Servant Leadership Abroad is a Creative Inquiry project that will include classroom research and a week-long trip to Puerto Rico over spring break. The Creative Inquiry is in partnership with Samaritan’s Feet International, a Charlotte, N.C.-based non-profit which distributes new shoes to underprivileged students in the U.S. and abroad.

“Through this Creative Inquiry, students will learn the concept of servant leadership and how they can positively affect the well-being of a local community through humanitarian aid,” said Gaby Peschiera, who is the College of Business’ Student Enrichment assistant director for global engagement. “The classroom component involves the planning of a humanitarian aid project, followed by executing on that project alongside Samaritan’s Feet staff in Puerto Rico.”

The classroom component will meet once a week during the spring semester and will be led by Janis Miller, associate professor in the Department of Management. Peschiera will supplement the course with the cultural context of Puerto Rico. On the trip to Puerto Rico, students will be joined by Scott Woods ’93, who is chief of staff for Samaritan’s Feet.

“The Creative Inquiry will shed light on the importance of servanthood in the business community, how to work on a community engagement project and making sure the recipients are truly getting the help they need, not what we may think they need,” said Woods, a Tiger Ties mentor and managing director of Advocatus Consulting, Fort Mill, S.C. “This is a grass-roots project. Students will be involved in all aspects of the humanitarian aid, from acquiring the shoes to the logistics involved in getting the shoes to their destination.”

Students will be responsible for organizing a shoe drive on campus, as well as a virtual drive, the money from which will be used to buy shoes. Woods said there is a need for between 500 and 1,000 pairs of shoes.

“The shoes must be new, and athletic footwear is preferred so that they can be worn for school, work and sports,” he added.  “Our biggest need will be for youth sizes, but we also need some men’s and women’s sizes.”

In its 16 years of existence, Samaritan’s Feet has distributed more than 7 million pairs of shoes in 389 U.S. cities and more than 110 countries. Woods said the students will distribute shoes to schools in some of Puerto Rico’s poorest areas, including to people whose lives were devastated by Hurricane Maria, which ravaged the Caribbean island in September of 2017.

“Many of our students will be tomorrow’s business leaders, and the ultimate measurement of a leader isn’t simply how you climb the corporate ladder, but the lives you affect along the way,” Peschiera said. “One of the goals of this project is to empower our students to be world-changers and that giving back to the community is a fulfilling experience.”

An information session for the program is set for Nov. 13, in 110 Sirrine at 5:30 p.m. The deadline for applying for this spring’s class is Nov. 15.

The $1,000 program fee includes all travel expenses and students will receive three credits for the MGT 4970: Creative Inquiry Management course. For more information, contact Gaby Peschiera gpeschi@clemson.edu.

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