Forging Connections and Consulting for Impact in Guatemala

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 for eight weeks this summer. Learn more about MSEC here.

by: Carter Griffin ’20


The country of Guatemala is so beautiful, and I feel has taught me so much in my time here. Two months is not enough to capture the whole essence of the culture, food and many sites there are to see here, but I am so grateful for the experiences that I will bring back to my family and friends. I can’t wait to try speaking Spanish to my family and friends, and though my Spanish has greatly improved, it certainly is not perfect.

The Guatemalans (Including food)

The people that I have met here have been some of the kindest people I’ve met in my life. From the moment I stepped into the country I was greeted by several kind people who helped me figure out where I was, as I almost immediately got lost in the airport. My first host mom, Dona Gris, is very kind, and though she knew no English, she gave her all to helping me understand what was going on. She always listened to my abysmal Spanish and did her best to give me easy words to work with. My second host family is large and incredibly kind. I am eternally grateful that I have been placed with them, because they really helped make my experience in Xela ten times better. My family consists of the father, Francisco, the mother, Vicky, the grandmother, Erica, and the children, Javier, Mellie, Carlos, Pablo, Dulce, Benji and baby Julia. They have told me so much about Guatemala and our discussions have been the highlight of this trip. The diversity and taste of the food that I eat every day always manages to surprise me. My family can cook very well, and I am always excited for dinner. Lunch in the city is always an adventure, as most every place in the city serves delicious meals.

The Students

The other students in Social Entrepreneur Corps are mainly Duke students, and at first, I was nervous that they would not like me because of where I came from. Upon meeting them, my fears went away as they were very warm and friendly. Any time I was unsure of something, I would ask them. My Spanish is not that good, so I would often have to ask my friends to help me with the translation. Any time I had any doubts or confusion, I would reference them for affirmation. I am glad that this group is so supportive of each other, I feel like I can talk to them about anything.

The Work

I believe that the work we are doing will be extraordinarily helpful to the people we are helping. We are split into three consultancy groups, with my group being CEFAM. CEFAM is a group of lawyers who take on cases for women with children that have been through familial distress pro bono. They need help with funding, their website, fiscal sponsorship and other tasks. The work may not sound too exciting, but I have been having a great time. It has been so much fun and an honor to work with them. Throughout our many meetings, we have become closer, and I can consider them to be my friends. The work we have to do is not finished, but it will be bittersweet when it is over.

Though I often miss home, I know that I will return a more fulfilled person. I am glad to have the honor of working with everyone, as they have shaped my worldview forever.

IMG_9578.jpgCarter Griffin ’20 is a rising junior Finance and International Business major. When he is not studying, he is working out at the gym, working with the Smith Business academy, playing basketball and making new friends.

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