Eight weeks in Guatemala, living with a host family in a rural village. Not a typical “study abroad” experience, the Uconn Satell Social EIP is an inspiring, empowering and rigorous initiative that sends top US students into third-world areas to develop sustainable local business models and train villagers in entrepreneurial skills.
Established eight years ago through a gift from Alum Ed Satell ‘57 and his company, Progressive Business Publications, the UConn cohort joined students the first year from Duke, Notre Dame and Columbia Universities in the Higher Education consortium founded by Greg Van Kirk. Van Kirk, an Ashoka Lemelson Fellow, Ashoka Globalizer and Schwab Foundation “Social Entrepreneur of the Year for 2012 World Economic Forum, believed that students could first learn then effectively teach his microconsignment model in rural areas.
The consortium has grown dramatically among colleges and universities across the country, and UConn has continued to be invested in making a difference. This year alone the UConn SSE Interns supported 34 village campaigns and worked with 918 beneficiaries.
On Wednesday evening, October 16th, the Interns presented their extensive projects at the Business School Honors Symposium on the Guatemala Program. They told wonderful stories about their host families and the villages. Yara Zoccarato said: “The welcoming and loving nature of the Guatemalans helped restore my faith in humanity. Every student should have this opportunity.” Each spoke about the impact of his or her project, which included training local entrepreneurs in rudimentary eye exams and fitting glasses, teaching village leaders about safe and efficient wood-burning cook stoves, water purification systems and more.
The Interns also shared their personal reflections on their program. “I will continue to learn from my time in Guatemala and I am able to see its impact on my life every day.” Stated Nicole Simonsen. Varun Khattar shared the inspiring story of a special teacher whose dedication and courage were exceptional: “Beyond my richer global awareness and stronger Spanish skills, I gained a greater sense of purpose and direction. I feel empowered to take on this generation’s challenge of poverty and inequality. I’ve been inspired and transformed.”
Ed Satell debriefed the Interns prior to the Symposium. On behalf of Progressive Business Publications, he congratulated them on their achievements during the summer.