By Julian Allen, Marketing Major
After learning about an option to work on a CSR project in Dr. Gilliland’s Management 310a class, I jumped at the opportunity to do something that reached beyond the classroom. The projects called for working in conjunction with the Arizona Refugee Connection, an organization founded by Dr. Gilliland. This organization provides services for refugees who have resettled in Tucson and allows student members to exercise leadership and business skills in the real world. The project I was assigned to work on was to assist a local refugee entrepreneur in marketing her business. Sahra Hirsi, originally from Somalia, started her business, Arizona Language and Transportation Services (ALTS), soon after she arrived in the states after recognizing an overlooked issue in the Tucson refugee community. ALTS provides non-medical emergency transportation and translation for those still getting a grasp on the new way of life. Anyone who has troubles finding a ride to a doctor’s appointment or understanding the language can ask ALTS for assistance. My team was very excited to work with Ms. Hirsi and help her to better market her services to the Tucson community. The more we learned about Ms. Hirsi and her business, the more motivated we were to help out. After only a couple quick months, my team and Ms. Hirsi developed new flyers, brochures, and business cards, while also cleaning up the ALTS website. By the end of the semester, we were able to secure a booth for ALTS at the 2010 Refugee Health Fair, where refugees could seek out information on health care and services. Our work resulted in ALTS gaining two potential contracts with health care providers in the area and ALTS success still continues to grow.
After this experience, I decided that my work was not done. I came to Dr. Gilliland at the end of last semester with an idea to connect refugees through music. She allowed me to create my own CSR project for the current semester. Now, with my team of Management 310a students, we have created an event called RefuJams, which is an open mic event geared to display the talents of local refugees and bring refugees together as a community to network and mingle. We have contacted refugee performers of all types ranging from spoken work artists to guitarists to singers. The first RefuJams will take place this Saturday, March 26 at Bentley’s coffee house at 3 PM. We are inviting anyone who would like to attend and listen to some world music. Dr. Gilliland’s CSR projects have provided me with an opportunity to link my passion for music to the things I’m doing for business school, while also helping out the Tucson community. I have much appreciation for these opportunities and I strongly encourage other students to get involved if possible.