“It’s Wonderful to see the Friendships that Develop”
Javier Zea is currently an MBA student at Edgewood College. Originally from Arequipa, Peru, Javier connected with the Social Innovation and Sustainability Leadership Graduate Program while students from Edgewood College were studying in Peru. Javier became the College’s contact and liaison for groups visiting Arequipa. He is instrumental in fostering the deep connection the program continues to build in Peru. Now in the U.S., Javier continues to offer support to students preparing to embark on their international experience. His extensive knowledge of his country and passion for his work greatly enhance the intercultural component of the Social Innovation and Sustainability Leadership program.
How did you originally get involved with the Edgewood College program in Peru?
"Through mutual connections I got in touch with the group back in May of 2012. It is amazing how things develop sometimes. I helped as a liaison during the trips taken between 2012 and 2016."
What do you see as your role? Has it evolved?
"I see myself as a liaison for the groups that visited Arequipa, Peru through the years, focusing on language, logistics, and culture. Yes, I believe my role evolved year after year as the groups and I got more acquainted. For instance, I’ve been able to provide advice on the activities and tasks to be performed while in Arequipa, as sort of a local adviser."
Is there any moment in your involvement that really stands out as memorable?
"There are plenty. Seeing the faces of the local people when learning new things from the groups and vice-versa. It’s especially rewarding for me to be able to contribute with these exchanges by serving as a translator, to see the reaction the group members get when seeing a completely different reality than the ones they know, whether that’s culture, food, language, or traditions. It’s wonderful to see the friendships that develop among people sharing such a unique experience."
What are some things about this connection that promote and educate sustainability?
"For starters, the fact that the group decided to make Arequipa its base, and from there develop connections, friendships and knowledge sharing. What good would it be if every year the trip was to go to a different city? Such trips would have to start from scratch every year, rather than feeding a well-established platform that can serve as a basis for groups to come in the future. Also, the projects that have been performed in the past years have all had a sustainable aspect to them. They were easily replicable and useful so that they could be shared with the people from the community."
What would you like American audiences to know about Peru?
"I could mention plenty of things with this one question, but I will zero-in on one idea so that it can stay clear in people’s minds when reading this. Somebody once told me ‘Would you prefer to watch a movie yourself or hear it from someone else?’ You may have heard (or will hear) many different things about Peru, but please remember ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder.’ You, yourself, have to make your own idea of the country once you have experienced it."
What would you like to do after you earn the MBA from Edgewood College?
"After graduation I plan to get into government work, the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism of Peru to be more exact. I would like to apply the knowledge acquired throughout my time in the program and multiply its effect by 10 or 20 if possible, work that not only can be beneficial to me as a professional but for other people in need of business-related support, and what better platform to do so than through a government office?"