Meet the 2022 Kenya Cultural Immersion Trip Travel Team


Meet the 2022 Kenya Cultural Immersion Trip Travel Team

Today we introduce the 2022 Kenya Cultural Immersion Trip travel team. Learn more about each of the members and their roles to make this experiential learning experience successful.

headshot of professor Elizabeth Wimer

Elizabeth Wimer G’06 (VPA), assisting teaching professor

My role in the travel team is to pave the road. The dream to lead an immersion trip to Kenya has always been student-focused and I’m so proud of the way the team of 14 has stepped up to make it student-led. From the first focus group with students to the evolving daily itinerary, in this trip, my role is to ask, notice and understand where my students want to go and then pave the road for them to get there.

I want to travel to Kenya because I believe the best way to bridge the global North/South divide is through compassionate immersion. By supporting our class partners (South South Women and Tirzah International), we are able to understand and contribute to the ways in which global businesses are investing in the economic development of the emerging economy.

I hope that this pilot trip lays a foundation for a sustainable partnership between students and our class partners in future years. I hope that the trip widens the perspective of students that already have a global mindset, to fully step into their role as global citizen that uses their education and access for both their own benefit and the benefit of their global neighbor.

headshot of Robert Atwood

Robert Atwood ’24, finance and real estate double major

My Role: Photographer/Videographer. I am excited to allow our group to relive the important moments we experience throughout our trip to Kenya. My family has instilled the importance of photos and videos throughout the duration of my life, teaching me to capture every moment as it can be given as quickly as it has been taken. I have been shown that it is imperative to try and capture every moment to relive these experiences in the future for others to create a desire for them to travel. I will be recording and capturing the important moments in our experience in Kenya this summer in order to entice other students to take this trip in the future. One thing I love to do is to be in nature, and this trip puts me in an environment like no other. This trip is so unique for people our age, so we must gain a grasp of the business and activity that occurs in Kenya, and I am very excited to experience a trip in an environment that I have never been exposed to in my entire life.  

Why I want to travel: Growing up my mother tried traveling as much as we could. Although I have been to many countries across the world, I was very young and have also never been to Africa. I am very excited to travel to a new location and experience it, especially at an age where I can implement the diverse knowledge I learn from this trip to show others in the United States throughout my career.

What I hope to get out of this trip: One thing I hope to take from this trip is learning to fight through adversity and “be comfortable being uncomfortable”. Although the new food and cultural interactions are different and may cause us to become uncomfortable at times, I want to be able to use the skills and traits I have learned and prepared for in our class to acclimate our group to the environment which will allow us to focus on our goals of the trip.

headshot of Brittany Catsoulis

Brittany Catsoulis ’24, marketing management and supply chain management double major

My Role: Travel Journalist. This role is important to me because I believe that when you are experiencing something new, exciting, and important, it is crucial to document the experience. This is crucial because you can share your thoughts and experiences with others who could not attend, and look back on the details of the trip in case you cannot remember everything. For a lot of people, this trip is monumental and I think keeping track of the details is important.

Why I want to travel: I want to travel to Kenya because I have never been to Africa before, and I want to experience a new culture. I think it will be great to collaborate with the partners we are working within SOM 354, and put our efforts towards something that will make a difference and feel like you are furthering a cause for the better.

What I hope to get out of the trip: There are so many things that I am hoping to get out of this trip. First, I hope that as a group we are able to share our ideas with the companies we are working with and help them improve their businesses. I want to be able to immerse myself in the culture and get a better understanding of the society in different parts of the world. I hope I am able to push myself out of my comfort zone, especially when working with our partners and contribute in an effective way that makes a difference.

headshot of Noah Cordes

Noah Cordes ’23, accounting, business analytics and entrepreneurship & emerging enterprises triple major

My Role: One of my roles for this trip is being on the agenda team, where I will work with others to create a full itinerary for the day while leaving time for debriefing and touching base. My second role is working with local Syracuse organizations to help coordinate the donation of materials to the Child Discovery Center in Nakuru, Kenya. Finally, I am in charge of leading debriefing sessions with the group to make sure we are all on the same page and fully absorbing the critical takeaways from this journey.

Why you want to travel: I grew up in a small town in the Adirondacks (Tupper Lake, NY). While this location gave me breathtaking views and endless outdoor activities, I was not even able to see what was outside that town. It was not until later on in high school that I was actually able to travel and see the world, and from then on, I was hooked. This trip to Kenya is exactly the type of travel that means the most to me as well, where I am able to immerse myself in the culture and experience what their everyday life is like. I cannot wait to get started!

What you hope to get out of the trip: In some of my past travel experiences, I have found that some of the best friendships can be made when two people are both experiencing something for the first time and are completely out of their comfort zones. This is one of the most exciting possibilities for me. Being able to build relationships with the other members of the team, as well as the communities we will be visiting and supporting is exactly what I hope to get out of this trip. More personally, I hope to develop my worldview by being uncomfortable. There is so much opportunity to grow on a trip like this, and I cannot wait to take full advantage.

headshot of Jared Dowling

Jared Dowling ’24 (WHIT/NEW), marketing management and public relations dual major

My Role: Junior Team Lead. Assisting professor Wimer, Enzo and the rest of the travel team in organizing various aspects of the travel experience.

Why do I want to travel: When professor Wimer initially came to me about the opportunity of partnering with a global business in Kenya, I was immediately intrigued and ecstatic at such an opportunity. Being able to further a true global share of ideas and being able to implement something on a global scale as a young developing student is an opportunity that most of my peers will never get to have. I am also extremely excited about our visit to the Child Discovery Center and being able to see firsthand how universal education can be, even though we are thousands of miles apart.

What do I want to get from the trip: I would like to leave the trip becoming a much more informed global citizen. While that sounds very simple, having knowledge from all over the world from many different places is power, and that power is a catalyst to changing the world. By going somewhere I have never been, I would be equipping myself with the knowledge necessary to become a better global leader and impact the world in ways that people that lack that sense of perspective are unable to. The goal is to truly develop a partnership so that other people can have the same opportunity to immerse themselves in another culture and environment as we will soon be able to.

headshot of Devyn DiGrande

Devyn DiGrande ’24 (WHIT/iSchool), retail management and applied data analytics dual major

My Role: Social Media and Communications Team/Key Donor Communicator. I am excited to be in these roles because I have a passion for social media and believe that sharing our experience in Kenya will be a great opportunity to share with other Syracuse students. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be selected amongst our other peers to take this trip and cannot wait to share it. It is important to me to communicate with our donors because they are the main reason we can take this trip. I am passionate about making a difference with every opportunity. I am excited to be able to make a connection with our donors and do my best to help them in any way I can.

Why I want to travel: I want to travel to get out of the bubble of Northeastern America. I have been born and raised here and I am craving new experiences in ways that I could never have even imagined. Kenya will provide this for me, and allow me to experience cultures and speak to people I would never have gotten the opportunity to.

What I hope to get out of this trip: I want to come back from this trip with a better understanding of what life is really like in the global South. I want to be able to reflect on it throughout my career and take action at future companies to bridge the gap between the economies. I am excited to have the opportunity to go on this trip with my peers and collectively have the experience of a lifetime and push ourselves and each other out of our comfort zones.

headshot of Divya Gada

Divya Gada ’24 (WHIT/MAX), finance and international relations dual major

My Role: Social Media Coordinator. As the social media coordinator, I plan to capture every aspect of this experience and share it with our Whitman community. It is so important that the work we accomplished throughout this partnership is not only documented but available for the Whitman community to learn about. Working on socials will also impact future experiences like this and hopefully create endowments and scholarships for years to come. 

Why do I want to travel: I want to travel to Kenya for multiple reasons. to broaden my mindset and introduce myself to a new culture and country. I want to push myself past my comfort zone and use the knowledge from class to make a tangible difference with our partners. (I also love elephants!)

What I hope to get out of the trip: I hope to learn more about our world partners and their impact on their communities as well as the whitman community as a whole. I hope to reflect on my own experiences to be a more global-minded business student. I hope we have a strong travel team with long-lasting connections and friendships. 

headshot of Enzo Hid Arida Suarez

Vincenzo "Enzo" Hid Arida Suarez ’23 (WHIT/NEW), entrepreneurship and emerging enterprises and public relations dual major

My Role: Senior Group Leader. I strongly value mentorship in a team setting. So having had the opportunity to take on this position for an experience like no other at Syracuse University is an honor and privilege that is so exciting to me. I want to be able to take what I have learned in my life experiences in and out of college with you all so that this trip we will have together can be all the more exciting.

Why do you want to travel: Above all, I want to travel to Kenya because Africa is not a continent I have ever been to before. I seek to educate myself more on the culture and traditions of this part of the world, one country at a time. What we learn from others and in textbooks is not enough to understand the history of Africa, and we are going to Kenya to help others but more so to learn ourselves from everyone and anyone there. Due to my schedule and involvement on campus, I am also forced to stay on campus every semester, so this was a great way for me to be able to still have an abroad experience during my time at Syracuse.

What do you hope to get out of the trip: What I hope to get out of this trip is more of an understanding of the culture of Kenya, and I would like to be able to immerse myself in their customs so that I can become a more educated global citizen. I also hope to make connections that could possibly define where I work in the future. I do not seek to stay in the U.S. for employment, and any opportunity such as this one could lead to major changes I make in my future plans. On a lighter note, I make it a tradition to collect jewelry in different countries I travel to and would love to add a new piece of artisan work while we are in Kenya. I also hope to make new friends and connections with everyone that is here on the trip.

headshot of Jenna Lopes

Jenna Lopes ’24 (WHIT/NEW), management and public relations dual major

My Role: My role on the travel team is the education coordinator. I am excited for this role as I love children and have been both a camp counselor and worked at a preschool many times before. I look forward to collecting and bringing all the stuff to Nairobi, Kenya. I look forward to developing relationships with them and learning from them. I’m super grateful for this opportunity and I cannot wait to go to the school and help teach the lesson there.

Why I want to travel: When presented with this experience, I immediately took the chance. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I am so excited to apply everything we learned in class to the real world. I love traveling and I am hoping to widen my perspective and really immerse myself in the different cultures there. Most importantly, I am excited to see where this experience will take me and I plan to get as much out of it as possible.

What I hope to get out of the trip: I hope to leave this trip with a global perspective. I may never get the chance to go to Africa again and I hope to take advantage of every single moment there. Even more so, I hope to create friendships and partnerships that will continue outside of this trip. I hope to take my new perspective back home with me and apply it to my life. I am especially hoping to better understand the Global South and take what I learn with me into future careers and my life in general.

headshot of Tage Oster

Tage Oster ’24 finance and business analytics double major

My Role: I play a role in the finance and group presentations. In addition, I am looking to learn as much as possible in hopes of being a trip leader next year. I am responsible for finding and allocating financial resources, building coherent and effective presentations, and above all being a helping hand to everyone on the trip.

Why I want to travel to Kenya: I want to experience the world as much as possible and fill my life with opportunities to broaden my perspective. I want to grow as much as possible and expose myself to environments that can allow me to learn more about myself and also the world around me. I can read as much as I want on certain places or things but nothing compares to experiencing something.

What I hope to get out of the trip: I hope to come away with at least one thing that improves who I am as a person. Obviously, among many things like enjoying the trip and making great memories, at the bare minimum I want to walk away with something of significance that changes me for the better.

headshot of Justin Soto

Justin Soto ’24 (WHIT/MAX), finance and economics dual major

My Role: Business Partner/Presenter. I am excited to participate in the presentations and have the opportunity to directly speak with our partners in Kenya. One thing I love to do is network and this role allows me to do exactly that. It is not every day you travel to Kenya with peers from your University and become exposed to a completely different culture. I am very eager to experience a new chapter in my life as well as excited to do it with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Why I want to travel: Growing up, my parents brought me along on many amazing trips, but sadly I was very young and do not remember most of the trips. I am very excited to finally travel somewhere new and experience it as a young adult who can utilize what I learned not only better myself but those around me as well.

What I hope to get out of this trip: One thing I wish to take from this trip is that it is okay to step outside your comfort zone. While I am excited, I am also very nervous to travel this far. I want to be able to use the skills and traits I learn throughout this experience in the workforce to give a different perspective that many may not have. I want to become closer with my peers as well because we are all traveling across the world together and this is an experience that we will share forever.

headshot of Isabella Simon

Isabella Simon '24 (WHIT/NEW), finance and public relations dual major

My Role: Kenya Immersion Experience Communications Coordinator. My role is to plan the communications strategy of the trip including pre, during and post-travel content. I will be coordinating with our partners, as well as Whitman's Office of Marketing and Communications team to identify key goals and tell the story of our experience. I will also lead the communications team across various mediums including social media, blogging, video/photo content and daily journaling.

Why do I want to travel: There are some opportunities in life that are once in a lifetime. This Kenya Cultural Immersion Trip is certainly one of them. I want to travel to not only experience a place I have never been before, but also to expand my global perspective in a setting where I can truly connect with a new culture and community. The exciting events, detailed itinerary, corporate partners and people within this trip encouraged me to learn and challenge me to grow in new environments. Additionally, I have always had a passion for traveling and am excited to take my first trip to Africa.

What do I hope to get out of the trip: Throughout my life, I have always found experiential learning to be more effective in expanding on my passions and being able to fully understand important concepts. While on this trip, I hope to be able to bring what we have studied in SOM 354 and connect my experience in Kenya for a holistic and personal educational experience. Also, I hope to be able to get a strong foundation of a new culture, expanding my global perspective towards being a more involved global citizen. Building strong connections with our Kenyan partners and invaluable hands-on experience will allow me to bring new skills with me into a future career, potentially in sustainable global business.

headshot of Lauren Sullivan

Lauren Sullivan ’24, retail management and supply chain management double major

My Role: The roles I hold are presentation leader and finance. I am excited to be a presentation leader, as I get to directly interact with our business partners and develop relationships with them. I look forward to adapting to the Kenyan culture as we work alongside businesses. In the role of finance, we have been reaching out to companies asking what they need us to bring. I enjoy the opportunity to use my knowledge and further the mission of our global business partners.

Why I want to travel: I wanted to jump on the opportunity to travel to Kenya to apply our classroom learning to real-life examples. There is so much that can be learned from our partners that will develop my knowledge and expand my horizons. I am excited to see the work we put in come to life in front of us. I am thrilled to be given the opportunity to be immersed in a culture I have never experienced before. I am most excited to be going to the local school and teaching a lesson there.

What I hope to get out of the trip: I hope to create relationships with business partners and students on this trip that last beyond our trip. I hope to push myself to develop new skills and go out of my comfort zone. I want to come back with a better understanding and appreciation for global business by emerging myself in the culture and applying myself to the situation. I want to use this information upon return to the classroom and in real life.

headshot of Erin Thompson

Erin Thompson ’24, accounting and business analytics double major

My Role: Photographer/ Videographer. I have always been very passionate about photography as it gives us the ability to share our experiences. I think that documenting this trip in full and showing the entire process will really gain a following for this program. Sharing our experiences with those outside of our team, allows the impact of our trip to be even bigger.

Why I want to travel: I want to travel because, with my major, I don’t have the time to study abroad. I love to travel and grew up traveling with my family, but I never had any experiences that would compare to this trip. I came to college knowing I wanted to study abroad and when I realized that was not an option I was distraught. However, this trip gives me a similar study abroad experience, without being a burden on my graduation requirements. I also this trip will be much more beneficial to me in my career, and just in my life than a typical abroad program.

What I hope to get out of the trip: The biggest thing I am hoping to get out of this trip is experience. I hope to gain travel experience, as this is the farthest place I will have been to and the only place that is not completely westernized. I hope to gain life experience, by broadening my perspective on the world and putting myself far from my comfort zone. And I hope to gain professional experience that I can implement in my future career.

headshot of Greg Tully

Greg Tully ’24, finance and business analytics double major

My Role: Daily Agenda/Plans and Key Donor Communicator. Being a daily agenda planner, I think puts me in a position to help structure our days so we can get the most out of our limited time in Kenya. Organizing our daily events and activities in a way where we can accomplish the most in a limited amount of time is a task I am particularly excited about. As someone who is benefitting from the generosity of our donors, it is also exciting to be able to directly address them and thank them for their assistance with funding for our immersion trip. I look forward to keeping them updated as much as possible throughout our trip.

Why I want to travel: I am excited about this trip because it gives me an opportunity to travel somewhere I have never been, as well as experience what life is really like for others in a different part of the world. I have never left North America, so participating in this trip is a genuinely exciting opportunity that I did not want to miss. The events we have planned while we are in Kenya are also very exciting. Being able to visit the school in Nakuru and work alongside nonprofits based out of Kenya are learning opportunities that provide an irreplaceable hands-on experience.

What I hope to get out of the trip: There are many things I hope to get out of this trip. Primarily, I want to be able to fully immerse myself in the culture, learning as much as I can about daily life, business, and traditions during my time there. I also want to, alongside the team, leave a lasting impact on the organizations we have the privilege of working with. Working alongside organizations with visions bigger than just myself can provide such a lasting education. I also hope to discover a newfound passion for traveling the world, as it is a relatively new activity to me.

Elizabeth Wimer
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