I am a graduate of the Belmont University International Business program with emphasis in Entrepreneurship and French. My prior international travel experiences include three short-term study abroad trips to Guatemala, a week-long SIFE due-diligence trip to Haiti, and a semester studying abroad in Marseille, France.
My short-term trips to Guatemala most strongly prepared me for this Lumos experience because they introduced me to the culture, ignited a passion in me for the Guatemalan people, and connected me with Centro Monte Cristo. Haiti prepared me for working in community development. Through the training I received from Professor Blackledge, I learned how to objectively evaluate community development and decide whether or not an organization was truly making sustainable change or ultimately hurting the people they intended to help. Lastly, France prepared me for being out of my comfort zone for an extended period of time. My five months spent in France also taught me the importance of language and how crucial it is to quickly pick up a new language.
Being the project leader of SIFE (Enactus) international projects, project manager of Be a Blessing, and Vice-President of the 2012-2013 World Champion Enactus team has taught me tremendously about leadership, service, and working across borders. Specifically through Be a Blessing, I have encountered the difficulties of doing work with a Guatemalan social entrepreneur. Often times she operates on her own timetable and with different expectations than the American mindset. I am grateful for the experience I have had working intimately with a Guatemalan for almost two years because it prepares for volunteering at Monte Cristo. I know now never to assume that my expectations are perfectly translated into a new culture. As well I have learned to accept the patience that goes along with making transformational change long lasting.
My educational experiences through study abroad, SIFE (Enactus), and my International Business classes have peaked my interest in micro-loans and social enterprise. I am interested to see how I may contribute to Monte Cristo by assisting with their micro-loan funds for farmers as well as with outlining social entrepreneurial ventures that could help the center be one hundred percent internally sustainable. These possibilities are part of why I wish to undertake my proposed project. I believe that by equipping others with the tools I have learned in my Belmont classrooms they can truly change their own lives through the application of new knowledge.