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Advice from GU Impacts Alumni

Five GU Impacts Alumni share their insight from their summer experiences in Ecuador, Rwanda, Panama, and Nicaragua.

Q: What was your biggest challenge?

“Communicating Cross-culturally! The language barrier could be a bit tough at times. Our translators were amazing and they played an enormous role in the success of our team and project, but often times some abstract ideas were difficult to convey between English and Kinyarwanda (when I got to Rwanda, I didn’t even know how to explain what asset-based community development meant in English). Luckily, everything worked out well!”

— Kayla Corcoran, GU Impacts 2013, Think Impact – Rwanda

Q: What is the most important relationship you made last summer?

“I really bonded with one of the staff members. I think this was one of the most important relationships for me this summer because she helped me to see how the ‘microconsignment model’ coupled with a desire to be of service with a community could actually be a good thing. Also, a lot of the trip showed me that there are so many other job/career opportunities outside of the “traditional” or common ones and this SolComm staff member shared a lot of her experiences which proved this point even more. I was glad to see someone passionate about service, international development, and connecting with people on a human level.”

— Maurice McCaulle, GU Impacts 2014, Social Entrepreneur Corps – Ecuador

Q: If you could do the GU impacts summer all over again, what would you do differently and why?

“If I could do the program again (which I wish I could!) I would have researched different business models and strategies, so that I could be better prepared to deliver the business consultations and support the new business owners. I would also have practiced giving these consultations and the training workshops (in which we trained Nicaraguans on how to conduct eye exams and sell the reading glasses and other products) in Spanish. I did not know all of the relevant vocabulary before arriving in Nicaragua, which was a disadvantage. But overall, I had a very positive experience! In fact, another thing I would have done differently would be to document more of my time through photos and writing so that I could bring not only the memories but also the lessons back to the States with me.”

— Alejandra Baez, GU Impacts 2013, Social Entrepreneur Corps – Nicaragua

Q: What is one piece of advice you have for students applying for the 2015 program?

“Don’t be afraid to ask why. So much of this experience is what you make of it. Question everything from the environment in which you will be working, to the culture you are immersing yourself in, and the reasons why you may have X/Y reaction to anything that happens. This experience is only great if you give in wholeheartedly to the program, its mission, and the culture.”

— Maurice McCaulle, GU Impacts 2014, Social Entrepreneur Corps – Ecuador

Q: Now that you have a GU impacts summer behind you, what would you like to do this summer?

“After my amazing experience with GU impacts this summer I am trying to either find a partner NGO I can develop my own social innovation project with abroad or try to make an impact in my home country. Neither project is complete, but my GU impact experience taught me that once the planning is at 80% you need to stop prepping and start working.”

— Constanza Concetti, GU Impacts 2014, Social Entrepreneur Corps – Nicaragua.

The views, opinions, and positions expressed by the authors of this article do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or positions of the Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation at Georgetown University or any employee thereof.

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