Kiana Seitz, fourth year Bachelor of Commerce student, travelled to Chimborazo, Ecuador as part of Carleton University’s Alternative Spring Break program over the winter reading week.

“We were involved in many different activities with the local communities in Chimborazo,” said Kiana who has a double concentration in Marketing and International Business. “We participated in building the foundation for a greenhouse, digging 100 cm deep holes in the ground. One day, we were challenged with going to the market and buying food for a whole family with only one dollar, while speaking in Spanish. We also met a few different women’s groups selling items such as bracelets, baskets, and ponchos. ME to WE encourages community members to become entrepreneurs and use their talents to make a living, which I thought was very inspiring.”

Kiana (right) pictured with group members digging a hole in the ground to be used as the foundation of a greenhouse.

Kiana (right) digging a hole to be used as the foundation of a greenhouse in Chimborazo.

Alternative Spring Break (ASB) is an immersive experience that connects students to domestic and international partners committed to positive social change. Students learn about social, environmental, and cultural issues impacting their host community, while supporting meaningful, community-identified projects.

“I ultimately decided to apply for ASB because I had not had a lot of opportunities to travel or volunteer since I started university, and I thought this would be the perfect chance to do both.,” said Kiana. “I was absolutely thrilled when I found out I was accepted into the program.”

Kiana’s group was hosted by ME to WE, a social enterprise that supports the WE charity, that empowers positive change in developing regions of the world, with a focus on providing access to education, water, health, food, and economic opportunity.

Kiana and her group members gathered around a sign that reads "Ecuador in the middle of the world".

Kiana and her group members pictured in Ecuador in the middle of the world.

Following graduation, Kiana hopes to launch her career in fashion management. Chimborazo’s environmentally friendly lifestyle has inspired her to think twice about where she shops and where she would work.

“This experience has taught me that no matter what is handed to you in life, you have to make the best of it and thrive in your own ways.” Kiana shared. “Seeing how the community members make their clothes and live a sustainable life was really impactful to me. It’s also allowed me to be more cognizant of where I’m buying goods from, and supporting brands that are paying fair wages and treating employees well.

“I’ve always wanted to pursue a career in fashion in an international context, partly because I don’t like supporting fast fashion. If you’re buying a shirt that costs only five dollars, why is it so cheap? The experience was very eye opening for me, and I would definitely encourage other Sprott students to participate in ASB if the opportunity arises.”

Thursday, March 7, 2019 in , ,
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