This summer, we will feature guest posts from students who received a Dingman Center scholarship to participate in the Maryland Social Entrepreneur Corps (MSEC). They will share their experiences learning about social entrepreneurship while consulting with local businesses in Latin America. Learn more about MSEC here.
After weeks of preparation, filled with excitement for the upcoming trip, we finally landed in the airport of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. We were greeted by program coordinators who took us straight to the hostel for a night.
After spending the night in the hostel, the bus took us to our work site in the region of El Seibo. El Seibo is a small town with one central avenue and many friendly neighborhoods just off the avenue. Each neighborhood has a distinct architectural appearance but nonetheless, the people of each community were similarly nice to us.
The neighborhood that I’m staying in is characterized by small, concrete houses with beautiful front gardens. Most of the neighborhood people spend time sitting outside either playing dominos or talking to each other. Kids and young adults ride bikes or play card games. Walking up Main Street opens up a breathtaking view: the dark green tops of the mountain mixed with misty white clouds and blue sky make it look like a painting made by Claude Monet.
On Monday we visited our first field site, Pedro Sanchez, where we are going to work for the duration of our stay. We met the community leader Rosa who talked to us about the problems that the community is facing. Here, the sense of community trust plays an important role in people’s lives. Each community has several leaders who are responsible for initiating and working on a variety of issues that will benefit the well-being of the individuals in that community. Rosa and other local leaders indicated that they want our help facilitating educational workshops on saving the environment through organizing a community clean-up day, designing and drawing a wall mural to encourage people to be more conscious about pollution and finally, creating a sustainable plan to detail how this work can be continued by the residents. The desired outcome for our actions is to influence the behavior of the residents towards having a more environmentally friendly mindset. I’m excited to see how our work can benefit the community while we’re here and after we leave.
Anna Podgornyak is a senior studying International Business and Business Management at the Robert H. Smith School of Business. She was born in Yoshkar-Ola, Russia. She is interested in consulting, education and social entrepreneurship. Through MSEC, Anna would like to learn more about economic development and apply social entrepreneurship techniques that she previously learned from her Consulting Fellowship and Social Entrepreneurship Fellowship to make a lasting impact on business practices in the Dominican Republic.