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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Marquette Business Brigades visits Panama for the first time since COVID-19

The Marquette business brigade visited two cities in Panama Jan. 7- Jan. 14 to help local banks and businesses learn about accounting, leadership and marketing.
The+Marquette+Business+Brigade+with+the+community+they+served+in+Panama.+
Photo by Photo courtesy of Charlie Ambrose.
The Marquette Business Brigade with the community they served in Panama.

While visiting Panama over winter break, 10 business students not only got the opportunity to educate local businesses, but they also learned a lot from the locals they served.

The Marquette business brigade visited two cities in Panama Jan. 7- Jan. 14 to help local banks and businesses learn about accounting, leadership and marketing.

The national Global Brigades organization organizes trips to bring a variety of resources to communities in need.

The group traveled through the national Global Brigades organization for the first time since 2019. Charlie Ambrose, a senior in the College of Business Administration and president of the Business Brigade, said the organization struggled without being able to travel during the COVID-19 pandemic, but he hopes the trips can become annual.

The Brigade went to La Moneda and Villa Darien to compile information about how the local banks and businesses manage their money and expenses. The students visited small local banks, a tilapia farm and a makeup business.

Ambrose said while visiting the tilapia farm, the group noticed that they were spending a lot on electricity for production. They found that the best way to reduce those costs was to incorporate solar panels, so they made a GoFundMe to raise money for one.

“We had to create strategies where everybody won, not just the business owners, but their customers, and even their competitors,” Kenny Magee, a senior in the College of Business Administration said.

At the end of the week, they went to both communities and presented a plan to show them how to reach new markets and grow their businesses. The group also created logos for them to use in their new marketing ventures.

Grant Salanty, a junior in the College of Business Administration, said throughout the trip the group was able to form relationships with community members. On the last day, the group hosted a celebration with the locals. Salanty said the day was filled with dancing, laughter and good food.

“They showed us a lot of their culture and we were able to show them a little bit of ours. We had a little celebration at the end, and it showed how connected we got over the week,” Salanty said.  

Five out of 10 students who went on the trip are also a part of Accelerated Ingenuity in Markets, more widely known as AIM.

“In AIM we’re evaluating some of the biggest companies in the world, and in Panama we were doing the same exact thing just on a smaller scale. It’s the same principles, you just have to apply it in different ways,” Ambrose said. 

Ambrose said AIM is not only about applying the material they learn but also being a good leader. He said while being in Panama, they got to pass on what they know about leadership to the community members they served.

“In these communities they work together, and the best way they can be efficiency is to lean on each other. Being able to see how they do that within the community showed us how we can do that as students in AIM,” Salanty said.

Grant Winkel, a senior in the College of Business Administration and vice-president of the Business Brigades, said he also learned about what it means to be part of a community while being on the trip.

“These small communities had so little, but they always had something to offer us whether that be giving us coconuts from their coconut tree, fresh lemonade or papayas,” Winkel said. 

Willy Galligan, a senior in the College of Business Administration, said the lack of material desire among the community members reflected in happiness among them.

“In America, you go to school and get a job and it’s just more, more, more, but there, their life is set around just being able to provide for their family and putting food on the table. Its never about making money, it’s just about living,” Galligan said.

Galligan said that in Panama if one person was struggling with something, the community rallies around them to build them up, and he said he wants to incorporate this into his own life and his own community.

“They understand the importance of not how you spend your life, but who you spend it with,” Salanty said.

Magee said the trip opened his eyes to how much impact you can have on the world.

“Most people believe it takes large-scale relief efforts and/or government to change other people’s lives for the better. Because of this, we won’t even attempt to see what we help we can provide on our own. However, after spending just one week in Panama, and putting in some honest effort, I’m confident we have changed the course of several lives,” Magee said.

Winkel said the members hope they can make the brigade a more established organization in the Business school. They hope more people from the college will be inspired by their experience to get involved.

“There’s a strong effort between all of us to bring more service into our lives and the lives of others,” Ambrose said.

This story was written by Sophia Tiedge. She can be reached at [email protected].

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Sophia Tiedge, Executive News Editor
Sophia is a sophomore from Arlington Heights, IL studying journalism. This year she will serving as the Executive News Editor after spending last year as a news reporter. In her free time, Sophia enjoys reading, working out and going to new places with her friends. This year Sophia is looking forward to collaborating with others and learning more about what happens on campus.

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