Just south of the Mexican border, small villages dot the mountainous areas of rural Guatemala. The inhabitants, mostly Mayan families, have overwhelming needs but almost no access to resources of any kind.
Education for many Guatemalan children is rudimentary at best. Health aid, sufficient food, adequate housing, clean water—life’s most basic necessities—are out of reach for most.
Some much-needed relief is on the way—thanks to members of the 22nd BBA+ Weekend class, who have selected to support the Adopt-a-Village in Guatemala organization as the community service project for its Business in Society class.
“We were looking for a unique project—one that would enable us to reach out into the world and do what we can to improve the lives of others,” said Patrice Prescott, who is the project leader and primary liaison between the group and Adopt-a-Village in Guatemala, Inc.
The mission of Adopt-a-Village is to empower the Mayan people of northwest Guatemala by providing training and resources so that they can develop improved education and health conditions in their communities.
Since its founding in 1991, the Miami-based Adopt-a-Village in Guatemala organization has completed more than sixty major village projects, including the construction of primary schools, the provision of aid to middle schools, and the building of a training and development center for higher education. Water systems and roads also have been built. Many health programs, including a treatment program for children and adults suffering from tuberculosis, have been initiated.
“We are committed to giving our time and talents to help the children and their families in these Guatemalan villages,” Prescott said.
She, like most of the students in the BBA+ Weekend program, already is balancing the demands of school with hectic work and family schedules but is willing to take on more responsibilities for this worthy cause.
“Selecting this project was the result of careful research and group consensus,” said Robert Hogner, associate professor, Department of Management and International Business, coordinator of the college’s Civic Engagement Initiative, and the instructor of the course. “I’m impressed with their choice of a global project that is very much in harmony with their coursework in management and international business. Their selection truly reflects the international personality of the college.”
Group determines the best way to offer the most help today—and tomorrow.
After some deliberation, the students decided that the best way for them to support the Adopt-a-Village organization was to launch a fund-raising campaign. They set an ambitious—but they believe realistically attainable—goal: to raise $10,000 before the end of March, 2007.
“At first we thought we could purchase some of the items that were really needed for the schools in Guatemala, such as school books and even book cases, directly,” Prescott said. “We soon realized that it would be more cost-efficient to raise money here and enable Adopt-a-Village to buy what they needed locally in Guatemala.”
The classmates are tackling fundraising in multiple creative ways. One group is pursuing corporate donations. Another is advertising and selling tasty breakfasts and lunches to other students attending Saturday classes at the college. A third is conducting a raffle—with a new iPOD as the prize.
“My group is selling ‘World’s Finest Chocolates’—and I have to say they are selling like crazy,” Prescott said. “Across the board, our fundraising activities are going very well, and we are on track to meet our goal.”
According to Hogner, the students also are considering developing longer-term projects to support Adopt-a-Village beyond when this class and their degree program are completed.
“They have a vision to help Adopt-a-Village in rebuilding their infrastructure so that the local citizens will be able to progress on their own eventually,” Hogner said.
He went on to explain that this type of project demonstrates experiential learning focused on the kind of civic engagements that many of his students will go on to organize and participate in after graduation.
“They are developing the skills and sensibilities needed to build strong, positive connections between business and community at both the local and global level,” he said. “In many ways, that’s what Florida International University is all about.”
“I want to stress how critical this project is as part of the international vision of the college in reaching out to the Américas,” said Donald Roomes, director of the BBA+ program. “Also, it is an important program goal to instill in our students service learning as part of their commitment to lifelong learning. I am not surprised to see the interest that many have shared in continuing this effort beyond their BBA+ experience.”
For more information on the BBA+ Weekend program, visit https://business.fiu.edu/undergraduate/professional-bba/. To learn more about the Adopt-a-Village in Guatemala organization, visit http://www.adoptavillage.com/.