Global Enterprise Challenge: Panama | November 16, 2011 | Comments Off
They had only three days.
But the 35 students who participated in the Global Enterprise Challenge at McPherson College came up with solid, innovative ideas to help the people of Panama nonetheless, and made the final presentation to judges on the evening of Nov. 16.
After watching the presentations of all five teams, President Michael Schneider said the ideas for a sustainable venture were just as good this year as in 2010, when competitors had 10 days to develop their concepts.
“You were ready to get after it and you really build something this week,” Schneider said. “Any one of you would be able to go there and make something of it.”
On the evening of Nov. 18, only one of the five teams will be announced as the winner of college scholarships and a trip to Panama to work on implementing their idea. But Schneider encouraged all the teams to pursue their ideas, win or lose.
Here are the concepts that were presented Wednesday:
Team 1, Dulegaya: The members of Team One used a bit of theatre in presenting their idea to help the Kuna tribe in Panama by dressing in traditional clothing of the Kuna people. The Kuna are a people with a dwindling language (called Dulegaya) and culture. In general people of the younger generation are trying to encourage greater tourism to the area, while the older generation tends to be concerned about losing their unique culture as a result.
The team proposed a way of bridging that gap: using modern video technology to document, preserve and promote the culture of the Kuna. They want to teach the Kuna how to create engaging video and websites to attract interest in their community. The hope is to ultimately have the program pay for itself through cultural tourism, online advertising and online selling of Kuna products.
“It will promote their story and give them a voice,” said John Goodwin, freshman, Capitan, N.M.
Team 2, the “Panamaniacs”: As the members of Team Two explored the issues in Panama, they decided that an issue at the root of poverty and inequality in the country is a disparity in education. They found that for every additional year of education that a youth in Panama can receive, they earn an extra 5 percent in pay on average.
To help address this problem, the team proposed creating an education center in Panama which would be open to the public. To save on logistical costs, the team plans to partner with a community center or church in Panama and reuse 10 desktop computers at McPherson College that are being retired. They also plan to partner with the education department at McPherson College to have students provide videotaped lessons and the translation into Spanish.
Team 3, Esperanza: Cultivating with Compassion: The members of Team Three see their proposal as the root what they hope would grow into a full partnership with a community
in Panama. Working fully with a community in Panama, Esperanza hopes to establish a grade school with a circular model. What this means is that the community will help sponsor promising students to receive higher education. In return, those students would commit to returning to the community as a teacher to help the next generation.
Esperanza would also help members of the community with a craft, trade or knowledge that would be of value outside of Panama. It would help identify these individuals and connect them into existing programs that can help them succeed outside of their community.
Team 4, Kuna Konnection: The members of Team Four are also proposing to work with the Kuna Tribe, with a different focus. Kuna Konnection is intended to help artisans in the Kuna tribe to connect into opportunities in the American market, such as Ten Thousand Villages or private collectors.
The concept is work as a middle man to connect artisans to retailers, but without taking the heavy cut typical of the process. After their initial connection, they hope to continue the relationship of connecting artisans to new markets and possibly creating a study abroad program in Panama.
“We hope to get a deep, lasting, brother-sister relationship with them,” said Natasha Chaney, sophomore, Edgerton, Kan.
Team 5, expeditionVida: Team Five sees the issue of jobs to be the most significant in Panama. The program would create a unique opportunity for families in Panama, while simultaneously giving American students a quality educational experience.
The idea would be to match American students who want to study abroad in Kansas to a Panamanian family. The American student would get to experience everyday life in Panama and immersion in the Spanish language. The family in Panama, in return, would get funds to both pay for food and lodging and to help their children to continue to attend school.