PCSE Grant Recipient Blog Posts

PCSE Seed Grants in Action: Report #2 from Walking Elephants Home

Check out Walking Elephants Home’s promotional video.

When we initially entered the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship Seed Grant Challenge, we expressed that what our project really needs in this early stage is personnel, someone to be on the ground managing the emerging tourism and helping to shape the model of tourism we are building. The grant has allowed us to do just that, and Rebecca Winkler ’16 has now been living in a little mountainside hut in Huay Pakkoot for just over two months. We have welcomed our first guests and received positive feedback from their experiences with us.

Our new base camp in the forest (photo credit: Peter Yuen Photography)

Our new base camp in the forest (photo credit: Peter Yuen Photography)

With the help of the Patricelli Center we were put in touch with fellow Wes alum Dominique Callimanopulos, founder of Elevate Destinations, a boutique tour company based in the United States. Dominque connected us with Cynthia Ord, one of their freelance consultants based in Thailand who has worked in tourism development in Ethiopia and is part of a new team at Horizon Guides creating destination specific guidebooks. Cynthia visited our project and gave us lots of new ideas for how to hone in on our market and perfect our accommodations and experience. Cynthia performed a site audit for Elevate Destinations and based on her findings they have decided to create a special trip itinerary designed around coming to our project!

Cynthia also featured Sarah Blaine and Rebecca Winkler ’16 in an article in their most recent guidebook “Elephants in Asia, Ethically” as well as an interview from Sinchai, a mahout of 18 years and deputy chief of Huay Pakkoot village. The guidebook is free to download through Intrepid. 

Screenshot of article in "Elephants in Asia, Ethically"

Screenshot of article in “Elephants in Asia, Ethically”

Screenshot of article in "Elephants in Asia, Ethically"

Screenshot of article in “Elephants in Asia, Ethically”

Seeing Sinchai’s name and interview featured so prominently in this guidebook was a really proud moment for all of us here at Mahouts Elephant Foundation. Mahouts voices are rarely heard in debates about elephant tourism, and never featured as expert opinions which is something we are trying to change. As a foundation dedicated to disrupting the current elephant tourism industry and bringing mahouts and their ideas to the forefront, this was a big win for us.

Co-founder Sarah Blaine has been at work across the UK engaging and signing our experience onto other small tour companies and has had success securing funding for us to have stands at two major tourism shows for the public in the UK; one in Manchester and the largest at Olympia, London. Sarah has been advising one of the UK’s leading tour companies in adventure travel, Explore, on their elephant experiences and a successful collaboration has formed. They are very kindly sponsoring the foundation for both travel shows. We will also be featured in a blog in September with Experience Travel, another UK tour company with a large customer base. They will also launch trips to the project at the same time which will then be featured on their website.

Visiting researcher Cristina Schellman (left) and Becca Winkler '16 (right).

Visiting researcher Cristina Schellman (left) and Becca Winkler ’16 (right).

Since founding our project, we knew there was much to learn from the people and culture here in Huay Pakkoot that have coexisted with elephants and protected the forest for hundreds of years but we are continually amazed by how much we are learning by being present here full time. Each day holds new adventures and discoveries. We have realized that along with building up this model, we need to be documenting this way of living sustainably with nature and other animals and educate people on how respect and dignity can be core ethos in the way we approach the natural world. We hosted Cristina Schellman MS for 5 weeks at our project and she has just submitted her paper on Semi-Wild elephant behavior and the effects of human presence on it to the journal Anthropzoös. In this line of thought, we have also started to discuss a partnership with the Center for Compassionate Conservation at the University of Technology, Sydney to send over students and researchers keen to study the way the elephants live here as well as interdisciplinary research into the culture of Huay Pakkoot and the way elephants fit into that culture. The community here is very keen to spread their unique knowledge about elephants to a new audience.

Some of our guests enjoying their time in the forest with the elephants.

Some of our guests enjoying their time in the forest with the elephants.

In a short time, we will also be launching a crowd funder on Indiegogo to help our project reach sustainability while tourism is still developing. Since our launch we have had a steady increase in visitors, but we need to supplement tourism income while we are still new to be able to facilitate bringing more elephants home to the forest.

We would like to thank the Patricelli Center for their continued support of our project. We would never be progressing as successfully as we are without the Seed Grant funding or continued support from the center! Thank you!

PCSE Seed Grants in Action: Report #2 from TRAP House

Check out TRAP House’s promotional video.

Last time we updated all of the wonderful people connected with the PCSE, the TRAP House team was gearing up to host our entrepreneurial boot camp, where we invited everyone who participated in our Startup Day Competition to a series of workshops in financial planning, legal compliance, and marketing.

Trap house 1We decided to open our doors to all who attended our Startup Day (not just the winners of the competition) to truly maximize our impact and foster relationships among budding entrepreneurs. You can read more about our reasoning for this decision here.

Saturdays at Boot Camp became the favorite time of the week for members of the TRAP House team. We would start off our day at reSET by gathering together, TRAP House team and TRAP stars alike, and share our highs and lows from the past week, and shortly moved into the curriculum for the day. Topics for Boot Camp included design thinking, value propositions, branding, market research, financial projections, and business models. After team members delivered the lesson, we would field questions about the material and workshop these ideas with each individual TRAP Star.

During the week, the team would with TRAP Stars to translate the work from Boot Camp into practice. Early in the summer, we worked with Gr8, who’ll you’ll recall from our first blog post, to help Trap house 2him put together a community cookout in the North End of Hartford. Gr8 is now working on establishing his clothing brand, Divine Veracity. We have also made a successful microloan for a hat-selling venture that one of our TRAP Stars has been working on. Throughout the summer we have been working with a client who wants to start a commercial cleaning service that hires individuals with a felony on their record, and we’re continuing this work in the fall.

As the summer has concluded, we are really looking toward the future. We will continue to work with our clients and friends from the summer as they establish new legal ventures. We are currently perfecting our model with all of the hundreds of lessons we have learned from our pilot summer program, and are really excited for what’s in store.Trap house 3

In the fall, we hope to formally incorporate as a 501(c)3 nonprofit, work on formalizing a volunteer program that leverages our networks in Hartford, Middletown, and beyond, and truly increasing our online presence after winning a free website developed by Impact Branding & Design, based in Wallingford.

The #NewHustle never sleeps! So keep up with us on Twitter and Facebook, and look for our new website, which will be launching in late-September.

PCSE Seed Grants in Action: Report #2 from Kindergarten Kickstart

Check out Kindergarten Kickstart’s promotional video.

It has been a whirlwind of a summer at Kindergarten Kickstart, both in our classrooms at Farm Hill and Bielefield and in the Wesleyan lab. Between expanding our range of academic interventions and increasing our outreach to 32 students, we have really had our hands full! Take a look at what we have accomplished this summer and what we are working on as part of launching Kickstart 2.0, a robust and financially sustainable research-to-practice early childhood and kindergarten readiness program:

kindgergarten kickstart 1

  1. Enriched professional development: We piloted a longer training period for teachers this year. As teacher-researcher-entrepreneurs we are in a very unique position, and it was important to ensure that we had the latest information about child development and research interventions. Our two weeks of training featured several guests to build our knowledge base and team ability:
  • Barbara Stern, a lead educational consultant to ACES, trained us in the Circle of Security, a theory-based intervention that is used to help teachers, parents, and social workers promote healthy attachments with children that allow them to learn, grow, and succeed;
  • a session led by one of our research collaborators, Shauna Tominey, on how to use RULER, a socio-emotional curriculum developed at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence;
  • a discussion with Izzi Greenberg, the Executive Director of the Middlesex Coalition for Children, and Cathy Lechowicz, the Director of the Jewett Center for Community Partnerships at Wesleyan University, about the specific needs of Middletown’s communities and the ways that we can build partnerships with families that value their needs and experiences as well as create connections with local institutions to expand our outreach and create a lasting impact in this area;
  • a series of sessions with Kristin Berry, a life coach and team building mentor, who facilitated activities and discussions about leadership, the complementary strengths and weaknesses of team members, effective feedback loops, and conflict management. We were so grateful for the opportunity to really bond with each other and strengthen our team by working together throughout these sessions. This training allowed us to rely on each other throughout the challenging weeks ahead and be proactive in creating the most positive, enriching environment for the children in our program.

In addition to bringing in outside expertise, we have been working to preserve and document our own experiences. Kickstart 2.0 is all about creating a sustainable model, and as a part of that we were able to use our extended training period to look through and reorganize all of our materials from past years of Kickstart into a revamped, easily accessible archive. Additionally, we revisited the template for a Kickstart teaching manual developed by past students, and will be building on it in the coming year to add information from our new curriculum and behavioral management trainings. Ultimately, we hope to produce a training manual for student leaders that will ensure the continuity and longevity of Kickstart in Middletown and allow the quality of our program to be replicable when scaled to other sites.

  1. Expanded interventions: In addition to learning some new RULER tools from Shauna for teaching children how to talk about, regulate, and healthily express their own emotions, we are proud to say that we partnered with Growing Great Schools (GGS), an organization that provides comprehensive food and environmental education to children and their communities through innovative gardening and cooking lessons. GGS piloted its preschool curriculum in our classrooms this summer, and our children had the opportunity to learn all about healthy eating and make their own delicious snacks with Chef Lindsay every week. We developed a nutritional assessment for their program to assess the effectiveness of their curricula and, as a part of our partnership, we will be providing them with detailed feedback and post-test data to evaluate the children’s nutritional literacy.  
  1. Testing and preparing math curriculum for production: In the summer of 2015, we began tokindergarten kickstart 2 pilot our math curriculum, a series of fun, developmentally appropriate math games designed by Wesleyan students in the Cognitive Development Lab. This year, we were able to train all of the teachers in these games and run them in the classrooms as well as develop variations on the games to adapt for different students’ needs. Our next goal is to produce a polished curriculum that can be marketed to schools and educational programs. We are currently in the planning stages of creating mass-produced versions of our original games and curriculum booklet as we partner with Wesleyan’s machine shop to develop some more robust prototypes.
  1. Laying the groundwork for a literacy intervention: We are now working to develop and pilot a literacy intervention that is similar to our math curriculum: a series of fun games and activities for preschoolers that target specific developmentally appropriate literacy skills. This summer we have brainstormed a set of criteria for the new intervention, consulted with Drs. Jill and Peter de Villiers, both professors at Smith College and experts on early language acquisition, and developed and tested a couple of the games in our classrooms. We are looking forward to creating a full set of activities that can be refined and used next summer.
  2. Expanding our community network: This year, we bolstered our kindergarten kickstart 3work with Kickstart families by piloting daily verbal reports at pick-up about each child’s day, as well as letters and phone calls home to help create a strong network of communication for children facing more challenges. Our two parent engagement fellows, Tracy Chapman and Merida Carrion, facilitated weekly parent workshops on literacy, math, and kindergarten readiness to help parents mentor their children at home. In order to provide a true bridge to Kindergarten and beyond, we also created personalized reports for each child to be sent to their Kindergarten teacher so that they can understand the child’s academic and social needs, learn from the strategies we have used, and help them thrive in school!
  1. Bolstering our social media presence: In addition to our new blog, we created Twitter and Instagram accounts for Kickstart. We also continued to post frequent updates on our Facebook page, and began revamping our website (keep an eye out for more improvements to it in the coming months!).

Overall, it’s been a great summer at Kickstart. Between the work we accomplished outside of the classroom and the high needs of many of our students, this summer was our most challenging onekindergarten kickstart 4 yet. We are happy to have ended this year’s program with a feeling of accomplishment, both for our progress and our students’ many achievements. As always, we are grateful to our faculty advisor Anna Shusterman, our amazing team of teachers, our research and community collaborators, and the Patricelli Center for making this work possible, and we look forward to continuing our work on our research interventions and training manual over the course of the school year!

 

 

 

PCSE Seed Grants in Action: Report #1 from TRAP House

The Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship awards annual seed grants to fund the launch or early stage growth of a Wesleyan-connected social enterprise, project, program, or venture. This year’s winners are Walking Elephants Home, Kindergarten Kickstart, and T.R.A.P. House. Each grantee reports back with blog posts and photos. Here is the first report from the TRAP House team: Bashaun Brown ’18, Irvine Peck’s-Agaya ’18, Gabe Weinreb ’18, and Will Barr ’18.


 

TRAP House team and friends with Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin

TRAP House team and friends with Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin

With the help of the Patricelli Center, TRAP House has exceeded all expectations, including our own.

The Patricelli Center seed grant helped TRAP House leverage an additional $25,000 in funding from the Newman’s Own Foundation and the Robert and Margaret Patricelli Family Foundation. Impressed by our momentum and the impact that TRAP House is already making in the community, several individuals were inspired to contribute an additional $2,500.  With this funding, TRAP House has launched its pilot program in the North End of Hartford.

On June 4th, TRAP House hosted a Startup Day where residents of Hartford’s North End pitched us their business ideas.  Throughout the day, these entrepreneurs-in-the-making had the opportunity to work with our mentors one-on-one as they conducted market-research, refined their business plans, and wove their moving personal stories into their business pitches.  TRAP House will continue to work with all who participated in the Startup Day competition, to ensure that we remain a far-

Startup Day flyer

Startup Day flyer

reaching resource to the community. We have selected three TRAP Stars from the day’s competitors to receive startup funding and full-time business incubation.

The first, Vodal Crooks, will use his passion for storytelling and filmmaking to start a videography company. He intends to document weddings and birthdays, in addition to shooting music videos for local musicians. The second, Antoine Blue, will use the job-training he received in prison to launch a commercial cleaning company that employs other ex-offenders from the community.  Finally, Gr8 One will leverage his talent for community-organizing to execute small ventures in North Hartford; stop by the cook-off on Wednesday, June 15 to see his skills at work!

In addition to Seed funding, the Patricelli Center has helped us establish a network of mentors and advisors throughout Connecticut and beyond.  This network has been indispensable to TRAP House as we take our first steps.  Key partners include reSET, a social enterprise-incubator in Hartford that

TRAP House CFO Gabe Weinreb '18 and volunteer Michael Smith '18 on Startup Day

TRAP House CFO Gabe Weinreb ’18 and volunteer Michael Smith ’18 on Startup Day

offers us free office space and legal advice; Our Piece of the Pie, a youth development agency that gave us space and equipment to host our Startup Day; and the Rideshare company, a commuter service administrator that donated a van to TRAP House. The TRAP House met with Luke Bronin, the mayor of Hartford, and participated in a roundtable discussion about mass incarceration with Governor Malloy.  This chain of excitement and support was strengthened in the media. Our work was featured in an article by the Hartford Courant, and our CEO Bashaun Brown ‘18 was interviewed by Stan Simpson on Fox 61 News. People are excited to learn about the #newhustle!

TRAP House COO Irvine Peck's-Agaya '18 teaching a workshop to TRAP Stars and affiliates at reSET in Hartford

TRAP House COO Irvine Peck’s-Agaya ’18 teaching a workshop to TRAP Stars and affiliates at reSET in Hartford

Over the next five weeks, our TRAP Stars will attend an entrepreneurial boot camp every Saturday where they will learn valuable skills in marketing, financial planning, and legal compliance.  We will continue to draw on our network of mentors and the resources at the Patricelli Center to give our entrepreneurs a competitive advantage.  This way, our entrepreneurs will beat the odds and establish lasting ventures that will combat mass incarceration from the supply side and return economic power to the North End and the amazing people that call it home.

Follow our journey on Facebook and Twitter.

PCSE Seed Grants in Action: Report #1 from Walking Elephants Home

The Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship awards annual seed grants to fund the launch or early stage growth of a Wesleyan-connected social enterprise, project, program, or venture. This year’s winners are Walking Elephants Home, Kindergarten Kickstart, and T.R.A.P. House. Each grantee reports back with blog posts and photos. Here is the first report from Rebecca Winkler ’16, writing with updates from Walking Elephants Home.  


people-IMG_8170-2Time has flown by since the announcement of the 2016 seed grant competition winners. In just under a month I will be boarding a plane with a one-way ticket headed to Thailand to fully roll out our Walking Elephants Home project. Just a couple weeks out of graduation, the words of Bryan Stevenson still ring through my mind and reaffirm the importance of the work we are doing. Stevenson told us at graduation that we had to get proximate to the places we are trying to impact, that problem solving from afar is not the same as problem solving within the community. Stevenson also told us that narratives matter, and solving problems, changing the world even, requires changing narratives. By bringing people out of the traditional model for tourism in Thailand and bringing them to Huay Pakkoot and to the elephants in their natural habitat, I believe we are helping to change the narrative about elephants and mahouts in Thailand. 

One of our guests to the project wrote about her experience saying “During the day we would walk to find the elephants living free in the forest, we would follow them as they foraged and sprayed water from the cool streams nearby. It was an absolute privilege and delight to see them live in such a natural environment.” 

sunti-AQ2I7649She left our project feeling that it was a privilege to be able to hike out through the jungle and see elephants living in their natural environment. This is our goal for all guests to the project and for a larger audience throughout Thailand. In the future we are working to create, people will no longer expect to walk out of their hotel and cross the street to an elephant camp and to ride elephants in the middle of a city. People will realize that elephants are sentient intelligent beings deserving dignity and respect and a life in the forest free from labor for humans. And people will realize that the job of Mahout requires an immense amount of compassion and empathy to be able to interact with and understand the needs of elephants. Although it is in its very early stages, our work is already having an impact on the people who come in contact with it, and we are invigorated to keep working and growing. 

Each guest that comes to the project and affirms to the community that yes indeed people do want to come see elephants in their natural habitat and support community based tourism strengthening our mission and our relationship with Huay Pakkoot. Our immediate goal now is to continue to fine tune the experience we offer and begin expanding so we can sustainably support more elephants and mahouts in the village! 

people-IMG_8295-2Our immediate goals are:

  1. Secure partnerships with ethical tour agencies here in the states and abroad: We are in conversation with a number of groups that are interested listing our project as a part of larger tours they are leading.
  2. Make sure every guest that visits the village has a once in a lifetime experience and leaves full of wonder and joy ready to tell all of their friends about our project.
  3. Secure grant funding to support the immediate return of more elephants as the project grows.
  4. Increase our visibility though our online presence on Facebook, Instagram (@mahoutselephants) , and Website 

We thank the Patricelli Center for Social entrepreneurship and the Seed Grant for helping us grow our project and look forward to updating you with more exciting news in the future! 

Dah Bleu (Thank You in Karen)

PCSE Seed Grants in Action: Report #1 from Kindergarten Kickstart

The Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship awards annual seed grants to fund the launch or early stage growth of a Wesleyan-connected social enterprise, project, program, or venture. This year’s winners are Walking Elephants Home, Kindergarten Kickstart, and T.R.A.P. House. Each grantee reports back with blog posts and photos. Here is the first report from Stephanie Blumenstock ’16, writing with updates from Kindergarten Kickstart. The Kickstart team also includes Meg Narwold ’16, Natalie May ’18, and Professor Anna Shusterman. 


 

centers This past semester has been an eventful one for Kindergarten Kickstart and we can’t wait for this summer. As Kickstart moves into its 5th year of operation, we feel so fortunate to have gotten a Seed Grant to allow us to move beyond our original community non-profit model and launch Kickstart 2.0, an enterprise with the potential to create a ripple of impact in the field of education beyond Middletown. Kindergarten Kickstart 2.0, through collaborations between Wesleyan students and faculty, Middletown community members (including educators and non-profit workers), and academic researchers, will seek to both (1) help prepare children in Middletown with little or no prior preschool experience for kindergarten through a high-quality, low-cost program and (2) bridge the research-to-practice gap in education. Here’s a snapshot of what we, along with our faculty advisor Anna Shusterman, have done so far for the 2016 Kickstart program:

  1. Finalized dates and sites: Kickstart will run from July 5 – August 5, with one classroom at Farm Hill School and one at Bielefield School (both elementary schools in Middletown).
  2. Recruited students: With the help of our collaborators from Wesleyan’s Cognitive Development Lab and Middletown’s Family Resource Center, we reached out to eligible families in Middletown with children entering kindergarten in the fall, and were met with lots of enthusiasm from parents. We expect that both classrooms will be full, with 15 children in each.
  3. Hired teachers: Stephanie and Natalie will return as Kickstart teachers, and we have 4 amazing new teachers on board, each with experience in developmental psychology and working with children and full of ideas about how to make Kickstart the best it can be. At the end of the semester, the teachers briefly observed both a preschool and kindergarten classroom, in order to get ideas for the Kickstart classroom and get a better idea of the school environment we’ll be preparing our students for. We will also work with two Middletown-based certified teachers (one of whom taught with Kickstart last year!). Each classroom will be staffed by 3 Wesleyan teachers and 1 certified teacher.
  4. Continued relationships with our research collaborators: This summer, we will continue to work with our research collaborators from last year, testing interventions (i.e., fun educational games) that target both executive function and socio-emotional skills. We will also use the math intervention that has been developed in Anna’s own lab over the past several years.

KKblogpostThe groundwork for this summer has been laid, and the next few weeks will be busy as we finalize the details of Kickstart 2.0. Our overall goals for this summer include:

  1. Piloting our own literacy intervention: Beginning during our training period in late June and continuing throughout the summer, Kickstart teachers will design a new literacy intervention and begin to implement it in our classrooms. This process will include researching pre-existing literacy interventions and deciding which aspects of them we want to incorporate into our own, creating the materials themselves (including picture books, visual aids, board games, etc.), and trying them out during Kickstart to see how our students react to and learn from them. Ideally, we will have a set of finished materials by the end of the summer that can be shared with teachers at other preschool programs (although Kickstart teachers in 2017 and beyond can continue to refine them!).
  2. Increasing Wesleyan student-teachers’ contact with our research collaborators: While last year, most of the communication with our research collaborators was done through our faculty advisor, this summer, Wesleyan student-teachers will be in consistent contact with our collaborators, giving them feedback about how the interventions are working in the classroom and brainstorming suggestions for improvement. Currently, one of the Kickstart teachers is researching a new and improved assessment we can use to evaluate the impact of the socio-emotional intervention on our students.
  3. Standardizing our training and curriculum materials: In Kickstart’s 4 years of existence, we have used (and produced) tons of documents with information on the psychology and education research that guides our program, as well as many lesson plans and general classroom descriptions. By the end of the summer, we’d like to have put together one synthesized training curriculum manual with all of the information someone would need to know about Kickstart prior to working in a Kickstart classroom. This manual can then be sent to other universities where faculty members have expressed interest in starting a program like Kickstart, making it easier for Kickstart to take root in other locations.
  4. Updating our website: As we look to expand Kickstart in the near future, both through scaling our model to other universities and connecting with more research collaborators, revamping our website to make it more informative and visually appealing will be helpful. We are also working with a graphic designer to design a new logo!
  5. Shifting our business model: Thus far, Kickstart has depended on philanthropy (and we are so grateful to all of the funders who have made the program possible thus far!). However, our major long-term goal is to develop a self-sustaining financial model, through our partnerships with outside researchers and through selling our own materials. Thanks to the Seed Grant, we will begin to pivot towards this goal this summer!

Overall, we are in good shape for the launch of Kickstart 2.0, and we are so excited to work with our research collaborators, Middletown partners, and the Patricelli Center this summer!

Davis Projects for Peace Check-in with Alvin Chitena ’19

This spring, Alvin Chitena ’19 was awarded the Davis Projects for Peace award to launch Zim Code in Zimbabwe.

Zim Code provides Zimbabwean youth with free access to resources they need—computers, internet access and instruction—to learn computer programming and how to apply their new skills in their community. Read more here.

The Davis Projects for Peace grant, given annually at a select group of colleges including Wesleyan, funds grassroots summer projects anywhere in the world which promote peace and address the root causes of conflict among parties.More information about the application process and past winners is available here. Alvin writes to us today with the first of (we hope) many updates on his success.


 

zimcode1We officially launched Zim Code on Saturday, June 4th! 

One of the key objectives of the launch was to bring together the Zim Code team, its student beneficiaries, the school staff, education authorities, sponsors and partners. Although the Provincial Education Director was unable to attend, the Provincial Computer Inspector stood in on his behalf. Students and staff from Mzilikazi, Premier and Mpopoma high school were in attendance. Representatives from our partners, Luyanda Uthando Children’s’ Foundation, Lead Us Today and Education-USA were present. ZOL and Higher Life were represented among the VIP guests.

Through the launch, Zim Code team members explained, with the aid of speeches and videos, the true importance of technology in our modern day lives and the big role that computer programming has to play in all that. After the Founder of Zim Code gave his key-note address, a few other Zim Code team members shared their life experiences relating to their decision to be a part of Zim Code. One of the key pillars of computer programming is being able to collaborate with others on big projects. Having a team of intelligent, passionate and driven individuals to work with has made all of Zim Code’s successes possible.

zimcode4The highlight of the launch was the Official Launch itself. The Zim Code Founder decided to shy away from the traditional ribbon-and-scissors type of launch and rather have a more creative, relevant and meaningful launch. Working along those lines, we created a program that launched Zim Code when “launch” was typed in. After the Provincial Computer Inspector initiated the program, “<Z/C>” was printed on the screen and then a congratulatory video started playing, all done through code. This launch procedure received lots of commendations from the attending guests.

Enrichment Grant Report: Carlos Eguiluz Rosas

Carlos Eguiluz Rosas was selected to receive an Enrichment Grant from the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship. With this grant, he participated in an inter-faith service trip over spring break. You can read Carlos’ reflection below, read past grantee reflections here, and visit thePCSE website to learn more about all of our grant programs.


carlosFrom March 14th to March 19th, I attended the Interfaith Service Trip to Harrisburg, PA. This was my first service trip and I was excited to see what will be in store for me. On my first day, I introduced myself to a crowd of 5 students, 2 religious staff members, and a dog. All 8 of us, including the dog, became the Interfaith group. Some of us knew each other from mass and class, but a few of us were new. Despite our different religions, we all got along like family, especially during the night when we came together to reflect on our faith and what “Faith” meant to us.

On the second day, we drove to a Catholic charity for our first service project; we were going to help teach English to a class of refugees. I was really excited about our first service project because I wanted to help them with their transitions. For some students, “home” was Syria, Nepal, or Cuba, but for others “home” was wherever their family was. I spoke with a man from Cuba who informed me of his current situation and how he had hoped to learn English for employment. Hearing him talk about how he, his wife, and his daughter have trouble settling was emotional for him and me as I too know the how hard it was to leave home in search for opportunities. Once we finished our session, we all departed knowing well that we have helped a group of wonderful people settle in their future home. We then spent the rest of afternoon organizing donations for refugee families. I was amazed by how many donations there were in one storage, ranging from pots and pans to cleaning supplies. We spent about 2-3 hours clearing and organizing donations, and every hour was tiring that the one before. Everyone was helping in their own way for the good of humanity. 

Our second major service project took place in the inner city. Our group volunteered at the Brethren Housing Association where we helped renovate old buildings for single-parent families. We each broke into small groups; some of us worked on the floor while other worked on the walls. Three of us, including me, worked on removing the chimney from all three floors. Removing bricks was the easy part. Walking down three flights of shaky stairs while only holding onto a heavy bucket of red bricks (no handrail) was the hard part. After our group finished, I took some time to reflect on what just happened. I was scared and nervous of what would have happened if I fell…But because I had faith and trusted the Lord with all my heart and soul, I knew that everything was going to be alright. Sometimes I doubted myself of my strength, but the Lord reassured me that if I put my faith on him, he would guide me like the other times in my life. 

On our last work day, before we left, we all the opportunity to attend Jummah Prayer. Attending Jummah Prayer was an enriching experience because it exposed me to another religion, one that is not common back home [Miami]. Every part of the experience was enriching from listening to the sermon to praying. It was amazing to learn that my religion [Catholism] and Islam shared several commonalities. 

To conclude, I am grateful for being part of the Interfaith Service trip, and I am glad to have been surrounded by amazing people. 

Enrichment Grant Report: Trevon Gordon

Trevon Gordon was selected to receive an Enrichment Grant from the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship. With this grant, he participated in a mission trip to Ghana to install a solar power business. You can read Trevor’s reflection below, read past grantee reflections here, and visit the PCSE website to learn more about all of our grant programs.


 

1The entire Saha Global experience was a pivotal point in my college career. Being a part of mission in Ghana was a tremendous learning experience. With the help of SAHA global, my team and I were able to set up a solar power business in the village of Kushini around Tamale, Ghana. Over the course of three weeks, we found an existing structure to house the solar business, restored it to suitable conditions, installed solar equipment, and distributed flashlights to the entire village.

2By the last day we could see that our time there had made a difference. That night, once every one had finally received their lanterns we could see how each compound would light up. You could look around and see that the village had come alive with this new gift of light as people waved the lanterns around in the night.

Before we had come there, the people had used kerosene to light their house which is both expensive and dangerous. What was alarming to me is how important it is to h3ave a light in these communities. Of course light is also important here in the states. Street lights and headlights keep us safe in the night, just as they do in Ghana, or anywhere else in the world. But a problem we don’t face is scorpions that live in roofing material. Furthermore, the difference between being stung in the night by a scorpions and moving about your compound without worry was having a flashlight that you could spot them with.

4This was the reality for the people of Kushini, and still is for many other villages throughout northern Ghana. Other parts of this difficult reality include no toothbrushes or toothpaste which leads to severe cavities at a young age. Or having your foot rot away from an infection but not being able to seek medical attention. But this is where my amazing team members come into play, (picture). In those three weeks that we were setting up the solar business my team continually went above and beyond for the people of Kushini. Off of the initiative of Hailey Seo, our team put together some funds to buy the children toothbrushes and toothpaste. So on the day that we were distributing lamps, Hailey and Emily took the time to teach the kids of the village how to brush their teeth.

5On the same note, we all put our funds together to have the man with the infected leg hospitalized. About a week after we returned home we got the news that his leg was finally amputated and that he was free of all that pain.

6All in all, it was an amazing trip, and the generosity was returned 10 fold by the people of the community, they gave us gift after gift, including our rooster, elvis, and a goat that I didn’t bother naming because I figured shak was going to eat him. Furthermore, the entire Saha team was amazing. Our team of over 40 people was filled with engineers, scientists, grad students, people in law school and even medical school. Over the course of a month we bonded we all became surprisingly close with each other. We shared our goals and aspirations and thought provoking conversations about the state of Ghana and the world in general. We talked about sexism and the detrimental involvement of first world countries in Ghana. Looking back, I would say the trip is one of the greatest learning experiences I’ve had thus far.

A significant amount of what I learned took place before I even crossed the Atlantic. The journey had actually started a year and a half before that. I fundraised to go on this mission trip and failed. It was humiliating mainly because of all of those who donated that I let down. To those who donated I apologize but at the same time, it because I let these people down that I felt like I had to do this program again.

7But even this year’s fundraiser was no easy ride. Just like the year before I found myself in another bind. I had raised over $3,000 and and was still short another $2,000. With the nowhere to turn and no one to turn to for help, this year could of easily been a repeat of my previous blunder. But I didn’t give up. I persevered and in the last two weeks of fundraising I raised the $2,000 and went on the trip.

I was able to raise such an enormous amount of money in such a small amount of time through the help of some amazing people. To name a few, Dean Renee, Hailey Broughton-Jones, Victoria King, Joaquina Borges King, and Rod Powell.
8I share this piece of my story with you not to tell you who talk to if you want to do some social entrepreneurship. I share this because I think the biggest thing I learned from this entire experience is that you can do anything if you put your mind it.

My family doesn’t have money and I don’t know of many people from Poughkeepsie who have ever left the city, or the country for that matter. And yet I made it Half way across the world because I was passionate about getting to Africa. That being said, accomplishing this feat felt like doing the impossible.

9So what I learned is that you can do anything you want in this world if you put your mind to it. Your potential is limitless. So to my peers I would like to encourage you dedicate yourself to whatever you want to do. Even if you’re as bad at it as I am at fundraising.

Lastly, I would like to thank Wesleyan. All of my professors and mentors who build me up, and even the people in the admissions office that gave me the opportunity to attend this university. And to the all my peers who have served as an inspiration for me over the past three years, I sincerely hope this little piece of writing can be an inspiration to you as well.

Thank You

-Tré

Enrichment Grant Report: Alexandra Stovicek ’17

Birth Doula Training PhotoFrom March 4th to March 6th, I attended a Doula of North America Organization (DONA) certified birth doula training in Brooklyn, New York. The first day was a required childbirth education class. It served as a refresher to the required reading for the training, The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin. Using diagrams, models, and interactive games, our trainer taught us doulas about everything from the anatomy of female reproduction and the different physiological stages of labor to the health of the newborn and breastfeeding practices. My trainer’s comprehensive approach helped me learn the ins and outs of childbirth in a way that I could not have learned from reading a book. As she joked, we covered “three years of material” during the day.

The next two days were much more doula-specific. We began to discuss labor support, which is the fundamental role of a doula. A birth doula provides emotional, physical, and informational support to a pregnant woman during her pregnancy and especially during all stages of labor. We role-played the types of emotional support that a doula gives to a pregnant mother, learning to use different empathy and interpersonal communication tactics. We discussed instances in which it is better that a mother asks her care provider for specific information, and when a doula can step in to guide her. We also practiced different types of physical support that a doula can give a pregnant woman during labor, such as massage, stretching, and guided movement.

A portion of the training was also focused on doula work as a business. To be a birth doula usually means to be an entrepreneur, to create your own business (if you are not part of a collective), marketing your skill set to potential clients. I found this information valuable as I consider how to find clients and attend as many births as possible this summer. The skills I learned in the training, such as how to develop a network and action steps to take when planning a business, are certainly transferable to any entrepreneurship endeavor, especially for small businesses with one person offering one service.

At certain moments in the training, it was uncomfortable for me to hear pregnant women called clients and to discuss how a doula decides her going rate for paid work, since I believe that all women should be able to have a doula if they want one, regardless of their ability to pay. I personally want to volunteer as a birth doula instead of starting my own business, as I am aware that only certain demographics can afford doula care, know to ask for a doula, or have learned about the benefits of doula support. However, my trainer did discuss these socioeconomic disparities and ways in which doulas can be part of the movement for Medicaid coverage of their services. I see now that it is important to learn about the business aspects of this work if being a doula is a full-time career and source of income. I can also see how a business model can help sustain a volunteer model-by charging a fee for pregnant women who can and want to pay, some of that income could be used to help other women receive services at a lower charge or for free. I see now that being a birth doula is not only about being an entrepreneur, but a social entrepreneur: you can find ways to support women and change the healthcare model in our country for births whether or not you charge for your services. This training felt very much in line with the work of the Patricelli Center, as starting a socially aware doula business can positively impact health equity in our country.