Business Honors Students in Guatemala

Thirteen students from the Lundquist College of Business Honors Program spent the week of spring break in Guatemala learning and gaining hands-on experience about micro-consignment projects through Social Entrepreneurship Corps, a nonprofit working in tandem with the Guatemalan-based company, Soluciones Comunitarias (SolCom). SolCom aims to make products such as water filters, wood stoves, and reading glasses accessible to all communities by partnering with and training local entrepreneurs (termed asesoras by SolCom).

Honors students used what they learned in their business classes to develop an outreach campaign to sell water filters and attract asesoras for SolCom in the San Juan la Laguna region. As many students came to learn however, the trip would not only draw on their business knowledge but also interpersonal and communication skills because most of the students did not speak Spanish. “I would get frustrated when I couldn’t communicate with my host family because I really wanted to be able to talk to them,” said Sara Chrisman, a junior who went on the trip. “Especially in the end when I wanted to show them how grateful how I was but I couldn’t properly express that. But people were very patient and understanding and willing to help you. My homestay family was very kind, welcoming, and went out of their way to make me comfortable when they didn’t have to.”

The outreach campaign produced some great results. Through the outreach campaign, six water filters were sold, at least 10 businesses were approached to consign products, and hundreds of fliers—designed by the students themselves—were distributed in the town center.

But perhaps an even greater success was what students took away from the experience. For students, the trip became a launching point for future endeavors. Several students expressed an interest in learning more Spanish and traveling more after their time in Guatemala. For three students, this trip was their first time out of the country, and they are taking their experience to guide them on their study abroad to Europe in the upcoming year. David Creach, a sophomore, is excited to take what he has learned in Guatemala—what he calls his “first international business improvement experience”—and apply it to his internship in Japan this summer.

What the students got out of the week was definitely priceless. Chad Derrick, who had never been out of the country before Guatemala, reflected positively on his experience. “I gave up a chance to recuperate, sleep, and hang out with friends to go to Guatemala, but it was worth it. I learned so much, especially about how important relationships are to people in Guatemala and I’ve been able to apply it to my own life,” said Derrick. “Coming back from that trip, I realize just how differently people can live and that it’s definitely easier to care about something when you feel like you’re making a difference.”

—Anna Karvina Pidong ’16

Anna Karvina Pidong is an accounting major graduating in Spring 2016. Aside from the business school, Anna is heavily involved with Kultura Pilipinas, the Filipino and Filipino-American student organization at the UO, and hopes to one day use her accounting background to manage a nonprofit in the Philippines.

Written by UO Business

The UO Lundquist College of Business empowers an engaged community of students, faculty, staff, and stakeholders who create, apply, and disseminate knowledge that contributes significantly to their professions, communities, and society. The college delivers a dynamic learning environment where world-class professors engage and get to know students, where students work on real projects for real companies, and where alumni go on to high-powered jobs worldwide.