Student's Ecuador Internship Supports Social Initiatives through Sale of Artisan Goods

September 06, 2011








Lucas Hernandez (Class of 2013)
Lucas Hernandez (Class of 2013) records a story from a local artist as part of the Good Stuff Good Works program.

 

When Lucas Hernandez (Class of 2013) arrived at Rollins two years ago, he immediately embraced the College’s mission of global citizenship and responsible leadership and dove into academic and co-curricular opportunities to explore the numerous dimensions of service and international development. But it was during his recent trip to Ecuador that he really began to understand the complexities of international service work.

 “Performing sustainable and mutually beneficial service between volunteer and community is a delicate process, especially in the arena of international development work and social entrepreneurship,” said Hernandez.

As part of the Social Entrepreneurship Corps internship program, Hernandez was tasked with supporting Good Stuff Good Works (GSGW), an initiative designed to combine the sale of handmade artisan goods from partner cooperatives in Guatemala, Ecuador and Nicaragua, with a logistical and financial support system for local good works.

For nearly five weeks, he traveled throughout the rural countryside of Ecuador meeting and performing interviews with numerous artisans, then translating the interviews into English and transforming them into profiles for use on the upcoming the GSGW campaign artisan catalog and website. These profiles help to give an authentic human face to the products sold, thus creating a stronger connection between the purchaser and the impact of the purchase being made thousands of miles away.

During his internship, Hernandez also conducted village campaigns, performed eye exams and conducted research on various products including improved stoves, EverLight Bright Light systems and village home irrigation systems. 

“Throughout my stay, I was lucky enough to work at the headquarters in Cuenca and the satellite sites and surrounding communities in Loja, Riobamba and Guaranda,” Hernandez shared.  “Additionally, this experience has allowed me to develop my interviewing skills, my understanding of the Microconsignment Model of international development, strengthen my grasp of the Spanish language and solidify my understanding of service work in general.”

The rural development work Social Entrepreneur Corps facilitates is designed to give participants a chance to experience, first-hand, the inherent risks and limitations involved in third world development. “The biggest lesson I will take away from my experience is that there are a very broad variety of service-international development models out there. All are far from perfect, and many can do harm,” said Hernandez. “But when one model fits a community and works with people in the correct manner, the impact is immeasurable, both in the short- and long-term.”

Hernandez was surprised to see his misconceptions about international service/economic-development work fade as the weeks passed. “The experience has given me great inspiration in ways to continue such sustainable and empowering work in my local and global communities when I return to the USA,” said Hernandez, who will spend his fall academic term studying in Chile. “This has taught me great patience and has helped me develop a deeper understanding of what sustainable service-learning truly is.”

By Kristen Manieri

Office of Public Relations & Community Affairs
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