With over fourteen different countries under their belts and a wealth of knowledge, students are constantly thinking about¬†where to take their journey from here. Some have started to ponder new majors, career paths, and even worldly causes. But a select group has already begun putting some of their plans into action through the Social Innovation Challenge.
Every other day while at sea, participants in the Social Innovation Challenge met to discuss their ideas for using their knowledge and global education to make the world a better place. Each group of students developed their own business plan to launch an entrepreneurial venture that would benefit the global community.
Semester at Sea invited the deans on board, professor Brad Brown, as well as special guests Becky Straw founder of¬†The Adventure Project¬†and Jocelyn and Todd Miller from Global Grins, to join the ship and select the top three teams to win $3,000 in start up capital for their entrepreneurial proposals. Straw and the Millers are alumni of the program as well as philanthropists who have founded their own non-profits.¬† ‚ÄúThey‚Äôre going to come back with their heads full of ideas, and Semester at Sea is now providing the cash to make them possible,‚Äù said Straw.
After much deliberation, the judges selected three groups of students to assist in launching their platforms. Read below to hear how they plan on giving back to the world through their new non-profits:
‚ÄúOwa‚Äù means home in the Edo language originating in¬†Nigeria. And for Adam Odomore, student from Texas State University, his plan to help African designers market their products hits very close to his home country of Nigeria. Joining him in this endeavor is Florida Agriculture and Mechanical University student, Jonathan Moses. The pair feel passionately about fashion and giving back to the African community. ‚ÄúWe actually have the power and ability to make a change. The opportunity we have to employ and connect these designers is incredible,‚Äù said Moses.
They are looking to provide micro-finance loans to a group of designers and market their products to historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the United States. With their first product being vibrantly patterned blazers for men and women, they set out to develop a new trend in fashion along with a¬†positive trend on their community. As the founder of Global Grins, Todd Miller critiqued their presentation and added,¬† ‚ÄúI wear a 42 long and I‚Äôd like to order one please.‚Äù
Student Francesca Maviglia, from UWC Atlantic College, sets out to a fill a void that she has noticed in Italian adolescent culture. Project Passaparola will provide much needed peer mentoring services to high school students in Italy. Meeting many American students on the ship, Maviglia discovered that student support is lacking in her home country. With the Italian school day ending in the early afternoon, there is often not a built in community of students to communicate with one another.
Maviglia proposes creating a safe haven for students who just want to talk through their problems or issues without having to go through a medical professional. With the help of ship psychologist Katy Dorsheimer, Maviglia has been studying models already put into place in other universities and schools. With a long road ahead in putting her plan into action, Miviglia is optimistic for the potential of Passaparola. ‚ÄúMy dream is, in a few years, to meet students who tell me the organization helped them while they were going through a moment of struggle and that their mentor had a positive impact on their lives.‚Äù
Pape for People
Looking to benefit those she loves and admires, Sarah Heim assembled a team of five students to help her build a business plan to sell pape socks made in the Tasovcici Camp in Bosnia. Along with students Dieneke De Weerd, Jacob Reshetar, Anna Roth and Tobias Roth, she looks to help market the socks the women are already making in the camp.
Having volunteered in the camp for two years, she has a personal connection to the people there. She respects their time, talents, and incredible stories. Looking to help them develop their business, Heim aims to add no additional burden to their daily lives. As she took the stage to pitch her proposal, her mind could only wander to those who gave her the confidence to be there. ‚ÄúI feel like I owe it to them. I‚Äôve learned way more from them than they‚Äôve learned from me,‚Äù said Heim.
As the world has impacted them, it‚Äôs now their chance to go out and impact the world.
Photos by: Joshua Gates Weisberg