Chocolate, Roses, and a New Country!

Hi! I’m so excited to be writing for the Pitt Honors blog about my Plus3 trip to Ecuador! Both are new experiences; this will be my first time writing for this blog, and it will be my first time in Ecuador (and South America). We’ll primarily be studying chocolate and flowers, two of my favorite things, but we’ll also be diving into the supply chain and culture of the cities and sites we visit.

For a little bit about me, I’m a freshman business student at the University of Pittsburgh studying Supply Chain Management and Marketing with two certificates in Innovation & Entrepreneurship and Business Analytics. I’m active in clubs on campus like Women in Business and Phi Beta Lambda that allow me to explore the world of business in a fun yet professional group of like-minded students. I’m very passionate about the Enactus social entrepreneurship club on campus that works on reaching out to entrepreneurs and social impact startups in Pittsburgh for learning and networking. A few other students and I have started a small startup on campus, Underdog, aiming to give women the tools they need to protect them emotionally and physically from sexual assault, emotional abuse, and domestic violence.

I have a lot of hobbies outside of the classroom. I love videography and photography as well as fun artistic things whenever I have time like collaging, painting, and drawing. I love learning about tech and business, and I read articles daily on entrepreneurship because that’s emerged in recent years as a strong passion of mine. And one of my favorite times of day is when I get to work out and zone out to music. I really enjoy running, boxing, HIIT workouts, and lifting.

Throughout my whole life, I’ve loved exploring other cultures, whether they’re in neighboring towns, on TV, on a different continent, or in the classroom. I’m so excited to be going to Ecuador soon to have the chance to explore a different culture in person, especially after a few years of restricted travel. I chose Plus3 Ecuador for a variety of reasons. Professionally, I was really interested in learning about the supply chains of chocolate and flowers, and the hands-on learning and experience sounded thrilling! Our trip group has been lucky enough to already begin learning about chocolate and flower production before leaving the US borders (including taste-testing!). As I mentioned earlier, I’ve never been to South America. There were other trips to European countries or areas I’ve had the chance to travel to/near in recent years. I was excited by the chance to explore a completely new culture and place while still in the comfort of fellow Pitt students and professors. I’ve spent the last seven years of my academic career learning French, so I’m even unfamiliar with the native language spoken in Ecuador. However, it all created the optimal opportunity for learning as much as possible in the time I’m given. I’ve learned basic Spanish and so much about the culture of Ecuador as a whole as well as the chocolate and flower industries, and we haven’t even left Pittsburgh yet!

My main goals for this trip are to be present in each moment we experience, learn as much as I can about the culture of Ecuador while putting my views and biases as far to the side as possible, and open myself up to a new language, place, etiquette, and more. Being receptive, ready, and enthusiastic about the things we’re going to learn, the people we’ll meet, and the places we’ll explore will help to make this an unforgettable experience.

I can’t wait to keep updating the Pitt Honors blog as we travel! I’ll be sure to give you descriptions of the percent cacao in the chocolate we eat, the colors and sounds of the birds we see, and the supply chain knowledge we gain!

See you on the flip side (of the Equator)!

Katie Gallo

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