Final weeks in England!

Last Friday marked the last day of my internship with the Mobell Company / Krizevac Project. These past two months spent in the little town of Hednesford were some of the most interesting and educational I’ve ever had. I learned what its like to work in a company and live in another country, I made some awesome friends that I’ll hopefully keep in contact with, and I had a lot of fun. While I enjoyed the entire eight weeks, the last few were the most memorable. I’ll start with the work related developments.

For the last few weeks with the company, Eric, Helen, and I continued working at the warehouse full of bikes two days a week as we had been since the negotiations with T- Mobile stalled. We did a number of jobs at the warehouse ranging from listing donated books on Amazon to cutting the locks off of donated royal mail bicycles. Like I said in another post I really enjoyed the hands-on aspect of the work in the warehouse. Back in the office the three of us continued to work on marketing Mobell’s sim cards and satellite phones by writing blogs and reviews on their websites. And on the last Thursday of work, the founder of the company Tony Smith decided to take us out so we can climb up a mountain. It was beautiful, and afterwards he took us out to lunch.

Tony Smith atop the mountain.

Tony Smith atop the mountain.

 

Outside of work I had an awesome final couple of weeks. On the penultimate weekend I booked a trip to Amsterdam for three days so I could finally get a glimpse of continental Europe. I had not really planned what I was going to do, but everything worked out great. During the days I rented a bike to ride around the city, took a boat ride on the canals, and went to some of the art museums throughout the city. During the nights I ended up meeting a bunch of backpackers staying at my hostel. They were from Australia, New Zealand, England, and Miami on trips ranging from a few weeks to two years. They were all really interesting people I’m glad I had the chance to hang out with.

 

A picturesque canal in Amsterdam.

A picturesque Amsterdam canal.

Some cool Amsterdam street art.

Some cool Amsterdam street art.

After Eric and I said our goodbyes on Friday, we travelled to London one final time. He went to go stay with his parents who flew to Europe for a vacation, and I went to my hostel. At my hostel I met some backpackers from Dublin and went to watch a rock band play at a nearby pub, and the next day I took the underground to Westminster station, where I once again walked straight into a massive protest that I later read about in the news. This time the people were protesting the bombings of Gaza, and once again I grabbed a picket sign and joined in.

Photographer capturing the action.

Photographer in action.

Made my own picket sign.  THANK YOU FRANK!

Thank you so much Frank!

The Penultimate Post (From England)

I can hardly believe there’s only two more weeks of my internship left…Every day has been fantastic! Of course, I’ve also had to say farewell to the guys (Tyler and Eric) who just finished their 8 weeks. 

These past few weeks, we’ve mostly just been continuing our previous work–writing blogs, working on SEO and Adwords for Mobal SIMs and satphones, and spending a few days in Uttoxeter helping out with the charity work. I also spent a day with the customer service team for American customers, to get an idea of common questions people have about our services, and see yet another side of Mobell. 

Tony

Peak

The peak!

Tony, our CEO/entrepreneur, took us to climb a peak in Derby (this is something he typically does with his foreign guests), and told a little more of his story. In particular, he told us to not fear mistakes. Tony shared an experience he had in Japan, where the group of businessmen he was working with valued perfection above all else (and as a result, they never got anything done). He began his work with them by making a colosal mistake–one that would cost his company thousands of dollars. However, he was able to mitigate a portion of the damage, and the rest served as motivation for the company to make record breaking sales that year. 

England

I’ve certainly been keeping very busy during the weekends. Last weekend, I made my first trip to London: 

London Eye

View from the London Eye

I went again this weekend just for a few hours, to see The Book of Mormon–which I’d highly recommend. It will change your life. 

Book of Mormon

It will change your life.

I also went to Warwick Castle on Sunday (which is why this week’s post is a day late–sorry!). This year is its 1100th year anniversary! You just don’t get those in America–there are beautiful cities and landscapes alike, but there’s nothing quite like the scope and depth of English history!

Warwick

Warwick Castle

Joust

A casual joust.

Till next time then!

Las Semanas Finales

After the reflection week in Cuenca, my travel group headed up north to the Chimborazo region of Ecuador, about a half hour outside of Riobamba, for two more weeks of field work. We stayed in a very rural pueblo called Pulinguí, located at the foot of the Chimborazo mountain. Words cannot describe how beautiful the surroundings were. The families in Pulinguí were mostly farmers that connected through women’s organizations to sell products and entertain tourists. The women’s organizations sold herbal shampoos, quinoa, and alpaca and sheep products. The women worked diligently to provide for their families and support one another through these organizations. My mom, Escolastica, is the president of the women’s organization that sells alpaca and sheep products and herbal shampoos. She had a total of six children, five that live in Quito and are studying at the university, and one daughter that lives at home and is 15 years old. My homestay came fully equipped with a (semi) functioning outhouse, cows, pigs, donkeys, guinea pigs, rabbits, and, best of all, a pregnant cat.

 

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View of Chimborazo from Santa Anita, Pulinguí

The first day I spent in Pulinguí, I worked with my sister, Jessyina, in the hierba fields to cut grasses to feed the cuy (guinea pigs), conejos (rabbits), and cow. We talked a lot about her life and her goals for the future. She explained that she wants to be a doctor when she grows up because she wants to help people in the hospitals and provide for her mom and her family. I was surprised at the number of responsibilities she had as a 15 year old. She normally prepared breakfast and lunch and sometimes even dinner. She woke up early each morning to tend to the animals and take them to one of their fields about 20 minutes down the road. Her maturity and focus were impressive and inspiring. I later understood where they came from after a long dinner conversation with Escolastica about the importance of faith in God. These two women had had very difficult lives– losing a brother and a son only a year and a half ago– yet their faith carried them through the hard times and kept them focused on the blessings they had been given and those that are yet to come. Escolastica talked to Jessi and me about the importance of not only an education but also using that education to provide for your family and better the world around you. Her insights reminded me of my own ambitions and my reason for sitting in her kitchen: I want to use my education to make a social impact.

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David’s mom with Anderson on her back while shearing a sheep.

While in Pulinguí, we completed a total of three campaigns. One of the campaigns, located in San Miguel, raised the most money in all of Social Entrepreneur Corps – Ecuador history, making almost $1000. We worked with the AC Rosa who took home over $300 to her family. We did our final campaign with Yolanda, another AC who’s work ethic and ambition were exemplary. She explained that she began working with Community Enterprise Solutions because she needed extra income to cover the costs of her husband’s expensive medical bills. We got to spend a lot of time with her and got to know a lot about her struggles and her family. Despite all of the hardship in her life, she had a heart of gold and was always working in the best interest of others.

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Cuy and Conejos on the first floor of my house

Pulinguí quickly became my favorite part of being in Ecuador, the culture and my family really challenged me to grow as an individual and a person of faith. My life in Pulinguí was simple and mimimalistic– I brushed my teeth outside with the birds and became best friends with my cow, which I named Daisy, because each time I went to the bathroom (outhouse) I passed her. After a few days, Daisy would approach me as I went to the outhouse and wouldn’t let me walk past her until I petted her and said hello. (When I got internet, I asked my Marge if we could get a cow and she protested. I’ll keep you updated on the status of Daisy 2.0) My cat, Rosita, sat next to me at the kitchen table at every meal and I would share leftover bits of chicken and eggs. She snuck into my room every night and slept at the foot of my bed, just like my cat at home. In Pulinguí, I could feel the real sense of community between all of the women and their faith in God was clear in every action and interaction. Watching them inspired me to be conscious of how my actions are reflecting my faith and the ways in which I can make my faith present to others. Unlike the other parts of Ecuador, I really saw the strength of faith in the people that has continuously drawn me back to Latin America.

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Daisy, my cow and new best friend

During my second week in Pulinguí, my health took a turn for the worse, probably because of poorly washed or cooked food. My friend Sydney and I, after having eaten lunch and dinner together the previous day, ended up in an Ecuadorian hospital in Riobamba with needles in our arms and E.coli in our stomachs. It was a less-than-pleasant experience, but it definitely taught me the importance of patience and flexibility.

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Ecuadorian hospital lobby

My final weekend in Pulinguí, my mom and sister had to go to Quito for a wedding, so my aunt and cousins watched the house. My 13 year old cousin, Anita, and I stayed up for two hours one night talking about America and Ecuador. I taught her words in English and she taught me the same words in Quichua, the native language of the indigenous women in Pulinguí. Most of the adult women in Pulinguí do not speak Spanish as their first language but rather Quichua. For some, Spanish is difficult and broken, and for others they speak very fluently. When other family members came to visit the house, my host mom immediately switched to speaking Quichua– it was always interesting to listen to the children speak to their parents because their parents would address them in Quichua and their children would respond in Spanish. My host mom explained that almost all of the children understand Quichua, but none of them actually know how to speak it. On my last morning in Pulinguí, my cat, Rosita, had her four kittens (as a goodbye gift to me.)

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Rosita and her new babies

Leaving Pulinguí was upsetting, becuase I know I probably won’t get to return and spend more time with my family, who I grew to love. For our final week in Cuenca, we worked on and presented our final projects. My group presented all of our deliverables for the Tiendita Comunitaria project. In the end, we gave Community Enterprise Solutions a: step-by-step guide, contract, list of suggestions, list of field consultant responsibilities, surveys for community members, tienditas, and ACs, list of challenges and opportunities, benchmark requirements and financial analysis, flyers, product information cards, information sheet for potential TCs, inventory and consignment sheets, incentive scheme, and training guide. All of these tools were created by me and my working team so that in the future Community Enterprise Solutions can establish Tienditas Comunitarias in which CES products can be permanently sold and more social impact can be made by selling more solutions. These TCs will be established not only in Ecuador but also in Nicaragua, Guatemala, and the Dominican Republic. It was exciting and relieving to present our final, completed project after putting in countless hours to find solutions to the obstacles of poverty in Ecuador.

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Sunset in Pulinguí

At the end of these eight weeks, I can certainly say that I have grown intellectually, personally, and spiritually. My time in Ecuador allowed me to shape my plans for the future; I know I want to be a person that works for social and economic change in developing Latin America. At the beginning of this summer, I was a completely different person that the girl that is writing today. This growth was due to the challenges, struggles, successes, and failures I experienced here in Ecuador. This summer was by far the most formational experience of my life– it has shaped who I am and who I want to be. I am so grateful to my parents and to Notre Dame — both the University and Our Mother, Mary — for making this opportunity possible!

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Sydney and me at a campaig

I’ll be spending the next 10 days relaxing in the Galapagos and exploring Quito with Jenny before I return to the states on August 5th.

By Emily Campbell

Craziness in South Ecuador

Hey again!
This week I’m posting from a hostel in the city of Loja, in Southern Ecuador. These past two weeks have been unbelievably crazy— in a hectic, frenetic, and chaotic sort of way. Therefore, we’ve had a wildly different set of experiences than the last group of interns to journey to the South.
My first week was spent in the perpetually-idyllic Cuenca: the city of tourists, modernity, and many an American comfort (I’m looking at you, burgers and fries). It was vastly different from our simple, modest life in Pulingi; the return to hot showers and wifi brought also an appreciation for the many luxuries we take for granted at home in the States. With all the interns brought together again, we began to discuss best practices, information, insights, and further steps: the paradigmatic “reflection week.”
Having first gone to Pulingi and the bitterly cold North, my team headed down to the sunny South for Timbara. A small rural village near the town of Zamora, Timbara was shockingly different from Pulingi. Gone were the fields of subsistence crops and animals in favor of sugar cane, a relative cash crop. Gone also was the condemning stigma upon drinking; Don Juan, possibly the most powerful member of the town, ran a hugely populated bar out of his house (some started to drink around 10-11 AM— although I do suppose it’s always 5 o’clock somewhere).
The beginning of our stay in Timbara was wonderful. Forced to double up because of the lack of available housing for males, Aaron (a fellow rising sophomore from Georgetown) and I roomed with a family running a tourist hostel. The food and especially the people were simply superb— our host father Manuel, cognizant of our interest in daily village life, took us for a small tour on our first morning. Manuel in particular was a gem of our stay; in blunt comparison to the visible machismo culture of the South, he would often wake up with his wife to cook early breakfasts for us. Sadly, after but a week in Timbara, we were forced to evacuate to the nearby city of Loja because of major rain-based landslides that had previously knocked out water in the town. The hostel here is ridiculously luxurious compared to the two towns, but I’ve enjoyed the increased independence; by virtue of having no host families and living so close together, we interns have formed stronger and more personable bonds.

-Sree

Live from Berlin!

Live from Berlin! Hello! I am alive and well in Germany and it has been an unbelievable experience so far!

I’m Austin Hunt, a rising Junior in the Mendoza College of Business studying Finance and Film, Television, and Theatre. I have the incredible privilege and pleasure to be working abroad in Berlin, Germany this summer. It is a city of immense importance—from kings and empires, to wars and destruction, and, finally, to an amazing rebirth and prosperous stability.

I am working as a business analyst intern with a venture capital firm at the city’s center and I am having a great time researching different projects for my supervisors to invest in. I have the opportunity to learn about startups, series funding, and investments.

I have international coworkers from France, Spain, Russia, Poland, Italy and Germany who all already speak English as a common language. I have learned about my new friends’ political views, customs, and even words in their respective languages. I have learned that “prom,” a completely American event, will trigger some interesting questions from some curious coworkers!

But anyway, there was never a better time to be in Berlin! The World Cup is at full force, the sun is shining, and I am excited! I have already been to the Brandenburg Gate, on a boat trip down the Spree river, on top of the Victory Column, and to some famous museums. And, of course, I have randomly met Domers abroad along the way!

My horizons are definitely broadening, which is exactly why I committed to living and working abroad for the summer. I am experiencing a different language, lifestyle, customs, and ideas. So far, I would like to thank SIBC for all of their help and generosity to grant me this wonderful opportunity! I am ecstatic to go explore Germany and report back here to ND and all of my family and friends!

Auf Wiedersehen!

–Austin Hunt

 

 

World Cup insanity at the Berlin FIFA Fan Mile

photo 2 (2)

 

My new friends and I at the Palace Sans Souci in Potsdam

photo 1 (2)

 

The Charlottenburg Schloss

photo 3

 

The Berlin TV Tower

photo 5

 

A preserved section of the Berlin Wall

photo 4

Update from Staffordshire!

Hey everybody! I’ve been working at the Mobell/Krizevac internship in England for a while now, and quite a bit has happened since I last posted, so I’ll start with the work-related developments.

Up until a few weeks ago our main duty as interns at the company was to help manage the launch of a new phone service called Cascaid. The founder of our phone company had worked out a deal with John Legere, the CEO of T-Mobile, and was hoping to re-sell their phone service in America. As it turns out, there are problems with the contract and the negotiations with T-Mobile, so we may not have the same deal as originally thought. Although the hope was to launch the service before we left, Cascaid will be put on the backburners for now and in the meantime we will work on a couple other projects focusing on marketing the company’s satellite phones and data sim cards. We have also started working for two days every week in a warehouse that manages sending goods to Africa that the Krizevac Project runs. It’s stacked full with thousands of bikes, books, and sewing machines that we sort and either sell or pack for shipping. I’ve enjoyed doing some more hands on work.

As far as travel goes, I went back to London and this time was able to meet up with other Notre Dame students studying abroad. I met my good friend Pat Myron who was there with other freshman engineering students taking classes, and he showed me around their dorms, the school building right next to Trafalgar square, and the other people he was abroad with. It was really nice seeing some familiar faces after being more or less on my own for the past six weeks.  After spending a night out on the town, we went to the Olympic Village and Abbey Road before I caught the train back to Staffordshire.

Last Sunday Helen, Eric, and I went to the Wireless music festival in Birmingham. Some of the performers were Iggy Azalea, Pharrell, and Kanye West. Kanye West put on a great show, and although he had been in the news for a fifteen-minute rant he went on the day before, he cleared all that up with another little rant. We also met some fellow Americans traveling while serving in the Navy and became fast friends.

Other notable happenings:
• While in London I stumbled upon a massive protest with fifty thousand people protesting new austerity measures. It was on my way so I joined in for a mile or two
• Went to see a Shakespeare play on a hill next to a medieval castle
• Visited the small town of Lichfield where the man who wrote the dictionary resided
• I will be visiting Amsterdam for a couple days next weekend
• Disappointed I did not predict Germany winning the world cup, in which case I would have booked a trip there to watch

 

Pictures!

The Stafford Castle.

The Stafford Castle.

Representing America from the Wireless Music Festival

Representing America from the Wireless Music Festival

 

The warehouse full of bikes going to Africa we have been working at.

The warehouse full of bikes going to Africa.

 

Protesting on my way to see ND students in London.  Still not sure what the protest was for.

Protesting on my way to see ND students in London. Still not sure what the protest was for.

 

 

Nice cathedral in Lichfield.

Nice cathedral in Lichfield.

Red, White, and Blue Runs Deep- Even in England

Helen Sheng here, on the four week mark of the Mobell/Krizevac internship in England!

The Office

Now, even though corporate betrayal [*cough* T-Mobile] has caused our original project, the launching of the charity phone CascAID, to be delayed indefinitely, there is always work to do in the office. Recently, we’ve been working on updating (and upgrading) the marketing strategy for their satellite phones and international sim cards. We’ll begin implementing our plan next week–with measures from upping their SEO game to scheduling regular expert review and travel advice posts on their much neglected blogs. So, if you’re planning on traveling abroad and you need international data, or a satphone, you know who to call!

Not the Office

In addition to working on existing products at Mobell, we’ve also started to spend a few days a week in the main Krizevac charity warehouse in Uttoxeter. This has been a completely different experience (and atmosphere) from the office–somehow more laid back, but even busier. It has been a fantastic way to see how an international charity works from behind the scenes. Our always cheerful and enthusiastic leader, Zoe, has collected 7 warehouses (and counting) of generosity from around England, with over 19,000 bikes, thousands of boxes of books, and rooms full of technical and office equipment. And just in the Uttox warehouse, there’s always work to do–collections, prepping the bikes for shipment, sorting and boxing books, and selling what we can on the internet to generate revenue for shipping costs to Malawi and acquisition of more warehouses. 

England

So, I’ve mentioned before that there’s not much in Hednesford, but England is pretty small country with LOTS to see. This past Thursday, I attended the annual Shakespeare festival, with a performance of As You Like It, held right in front of Stafford castle. There’s something about watching Shakespeare in a small campsite at night, in Will’s home country, with a castle in the background….

Stafford Castle

Stafford Castle

As You Like It at the Shakespeare Festival

As You Like It at the Shakespeare Festival

Last weekend, we attended the Wireless festival in Birmingham, where we listened to some (meehhhhh) music, but also met some great people (two of whom were part of the American Navy, stationed in Italy). Our colors really do run deep hear (though partially because red, white, and blue are also their colors). 

Putting some USA pride into the Wireless Festival!

Putting some USA pride into the Wireless Festival!

And lastly, I also visited the great city of Manchester this weekend. Most famous for their football team (and for David Beckham formerly of Manchester United), there’s also several impressive museums and large shopping districts. I spent nearly 5 hours in the Museum of Science and Industry, which consists of 5 buildings of knowledge, and even saw a very impressive Hadron Collider exhibit. 

A park in Manchester

A park in Manchester

Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester--I love old planes

Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester–I love old planes

All in all, a very eventful 2 weeks. Tune in again in another fortnight!