The Experience of a Lifetime – Ghana January 2014
This January I traveled to Ghana through Babson’s elective abroad program. For two weeks, I stayed in a church with about 50 other Babson students. Each morning my teaching partner and I walked to a nearby school, Methodist Secondary School, to teach entrepreneurship to high school students. Our first day teaching we were greeted by between 80 and 90 students, some excited to learn about entrepreneurship, and others excited to not attend their typical classes. Needless to say, my partner and I were overwhelmed. The next day, the school decided to cut down the class to only the top 40 students. This was a much more manageable number. Throughout the week we walked students through the process of writing a business plan and developing each section of a business. The students had a very strong background in accounting and business management, but had not learned about operations and supply chain management or marketing before. At the beginning of the week the students were very shy and did not want to participate much, but by Friday, they had developed great presentation skills. All week we worked to develop business plans that they would present on Friday to their class. We held a mini business plan competition with eight teams to choose which team would represent Methodist at the regional business plan competition Babson hosts every January. It was a tough decision, but we chose a team that wanted to make woven jewelry and bags to represent the school. We also chose the five best presenters from various groups to work on finishing the business plan and present on Saturday. Two students in particular really stood out to me. In the beginning of the week they sat in the back of the class and seemed to be uninterested in being there. They never volunteered to participate and did not take notes. I first noticed a change in them on Thursday when the small groups were working on their business plans. They had numerous questions that went above and beyond what we had been teaching. They surprised me because I had assumed they were not paying attention all week. Friday, these two students were two of the strongest presenters in the class. I realized that they were not uninterested in participating; rather they lacked the confidence to speak up in class. They ended up presenting on Saturday to a church full of other students and did a fantastic job. I am so proud of them, and I hope they continue to have confidence in their ideas so they can apply everything they learned in the week. Seeing how much I could help these students develop was truly rewarding.