Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Twenty students from the College of Charleston traveled to a mountain village in Honduras for a third consecutive year to make the most out of their spring break. The ongoing relationship with local communities in Honduras provides students with service learning experiences with payback well beyond the economic opportunities that are created for the local communities.
This year’s week-long service learning trip was to the mountain village of Pajarillos. Business students met with local households and the community leaders to help determine small enterprises that would be sustainable based on the skills and needs of the community. During their time in Pajarillos, the students helped to fund a bakery, two corn silos to store and sell corn at market peaks and two school community vegetable gardens to improve nutrition and teach children how to grow alternative crops.
Global Brigades, an organization that helps to organize service-learning experiences around the world, has worked closely with the School of Business over the past three years to develop long-term, impactful business and capital improvement ventures in the regions visited by the students. Elise Lasko, a 2011 School of Business alumnus, was recruited by Global Brigades as a program coordinator in Honduras. Now, she and other Global Brigades employees will train the villagers and build and begin to operate the bakery business with them.
“While these may seem like simple business ventures and capital improvements for U.S. standards, they are significant investments that will have long-term income opportunities for the locals who now own them,” says Rene Mueller, associate dean of undergraduate programs and director of the Global Business Resource Center. “It’s such a meaningful learning experience for our students to apply basic business principals and then see huge returns for the Hondurans.”
During their spring break, students also taught basic finance courses to women and paid for 10 memberships at the Caja Ruralas (bank).
Numerous Mount Pleasant organizations and businesses contributed donations for the students and staff advisors to deliver to the Honduran villages. A sincere thank you goes to the Town of Mount Pleasant Recreation Department for its donation of 400 camp and sports team T-shirts, Dr. Cynthia Garner for her contribution of 150 toothbrushes, the Residence Inn by Marriott (IOP Connector) for large boxes of toiletries, and several pairs of reading glasses courtesy of Harbor Specialties of Mount Pleasant. Children’s toys and adult shirts were also donated by the Town of Mount Pleasant Office of Community Development and Tourism.
Contact Rene Mueller at firstname.lastname@example.org or 843-953-5394 for more information on service learning projects at the College of Charleston School of Business.