Saturday, December 10, 2011

Africa in 39 DAYS!!

Well folks, its happening!

I got my internship and I'm off to Africa in January! I thought I'd fill you in on the program and what I'll be doing! First lets start with a class I took this semester. It's called Managing organizations and people. The class was split up into 16 groups of 8-10 people. We were told that if we raised $1,000 for SEED we would be exempt from the final. A few stipulations...we had to help someone or make an impact somehow. This prevented people from just splitting the $1,000 between the group and paying up. We either had to make an impact deeply in a one person or help a lot of people to make an impact on a bigger cause. My group consisted of 3 international students and 6 people from the United States. Our CEO (group leader) came up with the idea of building oral hygiene kits for people that would be visited by the SEED interns. So we moved forward with this idea and contacted dentists to see if they would be willing to donate toothbrushes, toothpastes and floss towards the kits. I spoke with a printing company and had educational instruction cards printed for each kit. Once we collected the supplies we continued our efforts to collect money from local businesses and students. Long story short we collected enough money to get out of the final and raise $1,010 for SEED.

What's SEED?? Let me tell you! SEED stands for Small Enterprise Educational Development. The main focus of the program is the teach business classes in various regions of the world. There are SEED interns in Peru, Uganda and Ghana Africa. When interns are sent to these areas they are told to teach business class through 7 lessons. By the time you are through lesson 3 and 4 you can get a feel for the students in the class and who is in need of financial help with their business. Business plans are discussed and the interns determine if a micro loan is something that would help make their business profitable. If so the interns help finance these loans. The loans range from $100-$1,000. (The money from the group projects goes 100% to these micro loans) This program has the power to change peoples lives. The struggle that this program faces is the fact that many of these people have never even seen this amount of money. They have needs such as food, clothes, medicine, etc. and we have to teach them how to budget their money and foreshadow future expenses. But if the interns can help these people and teach them these concepts than the money that they are loaned can help them grow their business to sustain them for generations to come.

I have been fortunate enough to be accepted to be an intern in the Ghana Africa region.

I am so excited to have this kind of experience. As I have gone through my higher education I have realized that just getting a degree is rapidly not becoming enough to be competitive. Getting good grades is just not enough. Most study abroad programs are so expensive and don't give you the experience that the SEED program offers. Many study abroad programs are a group of 25-30 students and a few professors going around to various companies around the world and learning how they operate and their business structures. This program is great but SEED offers the opportunity to stand on your own and use your own judgement to teach people how to run their businesses. I believe this program will give me experiences of a lifetime that will help me both personally and professionally. I can't WAIT!!

Now many of you know about my dad. I have had several people ask me if I'm still going to Africa since my dad has been diagnosed with 3 types of cancer. My parents still believe that this is an opportunity of a lifetime that can't be passed up. Along with that I have this theory...I believe that if I wasn't supposed to go to Africa for any reason, especially my dad, that I would have a feeling in my gut. And I think that even if I didn't get that memo someone in my family would and tell me that they don't think I should go. So because of this insight I feel that my dad will be okay and he will go through chemo and everything and being the strong man that he is he will make it through. I love him dearly and I will be there for him as much as I possibly can from now until I leave.

I love my family and friends and appreciate all the prayers and thoughts that have been said on our behalf. We are a blessed family.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

1 comment:

  1. Lauren,
    I am so happy for you! You will have so much fun. Don't pick up any of those crazy bacterias over there. Take lots of pictures and put them on your blog while you are gone. I am sorry to hear about your dad, my thoughts and prayers will be with you and your family. Merry Christmas.