Monthly Archives

November 2012

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The BUSN200 Path

As semester Fall 2012 is close to reaching the end of its road, many Busn200 students are about to complete their service hours. This is a good time to look back at what you have accomplished and revise what you are still looking to gain out of your service.

Students who come to Busn200 carry a variety of learning objectives and possess different skills and experiences. Even attitudes vary among them: some start Busn200 with excitement and enthusiasm, while others begin doing it only with the aim of fulfilling another requirement. With large diversity in personal skills, majors, goals, or even hobbies, I believe every single student has walked a very unique path. That path was not paved merely by the Busn200 Center or by a supervisor at a non-profit, but the student themselves. Busn200 is unique among all business courses to the extent that it provides a student the opportunity not only to learn or improve a certain set of knowledge, skills and attitudes, but also to discover his or her own self. When one realizes that in this course he himself decides what to learn and how to learn them, along his service will he recognize that the process is also about exploring himself: defining what he possess and what not, knowing what he wants, understanding his characters, affirming his values, etc. Last fall, a student named Matthew Hartmann inspired me by his experience with Busn200. Through discussion with him at class and reading his journals, I gained a new perspective on the nature and outcomes of Busn200. Following is one of his journals where he talks about his accomplishments by the end of his service:

I have accomplished, in some way, all of my learning objectives. I have gained so much more beyond my learning objectives as well, and that is what has brought me to conclude that what I originally set out to accomplish in my service hours was not an unrealistic goal of mine. It was easily met, and it has taught me that through laying the expectations out before the journey begins, it makes that much easier to accomplish them in the end. I am finding myself mush more satisfied than I thought I would be after completing my business 200 requirement, and even on that it’s not a requirement; it should be called an opportunity. But, I now look at myself as a more defined, better-rounded business professional. I have even incorporated some of my new knowledge and ideas into my current job. Right now I am seeing positive returns from this, and I hope that it continues. This all boils down to one point—Volunteering is a way to learn about what you are missing in other work environments. This means you begin to appreciate everything and everyone working around you, there is no taking a selfish route, but it is necessary to be able to adapt to new situations as to better yourself and your organization. Trying to say what I have learned about myself is fairly easy after going through Business 200. The things I notice the most about myself is the way I approach every situation now. I no longer am timid, I am not stressed, but rather I am more relaxed and “with the flow.” This makes, not only my work life, but also my personal life that much more stress free. I am finding things to be more humbling and less burdensome. I like the new me. Now, I am saying I am this newly renovated Matt Hartmann, but on a internal, emotional level I am seeing that I am handling the different aspects of day to day life very different than what I normally would have. I am sure as the main driver of this change, and I wish one day I will be able to trace it back to Value Village. 

Today’s Society is filled with business professionals with blinders on, forcing them to focus on one thing: money. This is the sad reality that I was once directed towards. I was told to get a good paying job, support a family, do well in my career, and earning myself and my organization a lot of money. That was the painted picture I had for ‘success.’ I think this painting should be repainted. Repainted to show the smiles, the laughs, and the hard working physical labor that goes into so many non-profits organizations in order to make them a success. It is not about the money. It’s about the service… We are so focused on the issue of money that we are starting to lose sight of the true driver of the money, and that is the people on the other end of our business. Without them, there is no money, so I think it is about trying to make a difference in their lives, and stop being so absent minded to the needs of others. The picture should so an all around self-confident business professional who holds themselves with poise, all while supporting their community, not just their wallet.

 

By Bob Ta, BUSN200 Facilitator

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Start Thanksgiving off right!

It’s that time of year again, spending time with family and friends around the dining room table, and being thankful for all that you have. Thanksgiving can also be a very hard time for individuals in need and those that can’t seem to find a lot to be thankful for this year. It seems hard to imagine celebrating Thanksgiving without a turkey, pie, and friends. The holiday season is also a very busy time of year for food drives and food shelves.

“Thanksgiving and the upcoming winter holidays are a time to reflect and be thankful for all that we have. The holidays also bring generous thoughts of volunteering and a desire to give back as we give thanks.” –Greater Twin Cities United Way

If you have some spare time the morning of Thanksgiving before you cut the turkey, start off your morning right by giving back with organizations around Minnesota. There are many options available to give back to the community with this holiday season. A few examples are the Turkey Trot, Salvation Army, Feed My Starving Children, Walk to End Hunger and many more! Walk to End Hunger is a family-friendly 5K the morning of Thanksgiving at Mall of America. You don’t always have to leave your home to give back, have everyone bring donations to your holiday gatherings for food drives around the Twin Cities.

 

Before you spend time with your friends and family this holiday season, consider all the opportunities to spend time with others while giving back.

Have a fun and safe Turkey Day!

 

By: Andrea Paetznick, BUSN200 Student Facilitator

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The Best Way

“I was expecting an outdoor activity that had clear objectives such as “plant trees in this park, install benches for the park, pick up litter, etc.” I’m all for helping out, but when we are moving compost “manure” from one site to another I see no real objective. Yeah I wheel-barreled the compost a 1Ž4 mile down the road, for what?” – Anonymous BUSN200 Student Journal Post

 
Sometimes, I get journal entries from students that are frustrated with their service site. Many outline concerns such as those above. Believe it or not, all you frustrated volunteers out there; I can understand your vexation. I am also very much a person who strives for accomplishment. Last January I took a class and did service in San Lucas Tolimán, Guatemala. We spent days landscaping for a newly-built women’s center, picking up small boulders from one side of the village and carrying them to the other. Those things were heavy. Literally moving a pile of rocks to a different place for hours in the hot sun. Like you, I couldn’t help but feel like what we were doing wasn’t really making an impact, besides deepening the blisters on my fingers and permanently dirtying my t-shirts. As a group we discussed our service and talked about why they couldn’t just use a wheelbarrow, etc. It was challenging to follow the direction of the older Mayan man whom we thought would benefit from better technology or better methods.

Taking direction from someone else – especially someone of a different culture – is difficult. It’s hard to see the point of physical labor when you don’t understand the big picture or what is really being helped. At a certain point, I learned to stop, humble myself, and accept the experience. As a culture, I think Americans are designed to think that we always know “the best way.” In international service and business, this may not always be the case.

For example, on the days we carried the boulders, we’d have to walk through four rows of tin-roofed huts in the village on the outskirts of San Lucas, Tolimán. During my service I got a glimpse of the daily life of these people and how poorly they lived. There was a swarm of flies at every turn. That was gross. Children were dirty and ran around with the chickens. Some couldn’t afford to go to school and stayed home to help pick coffee to support their family. Once, I passed a hut that had Coldplay’s song “Fix You” playing aloud on the radio. In that moment, things were put into perspective. Even though it was seemingly miserable, pointless work at the time, carrying those rocks was probably one of the most poignant experiences I had in Guatemala. Perhaps I got more benefit from the service of moving those rocks than the people themselves, but I can only hope that they gained something from our efforts and were thankful for our presence.

 

By: Emily Seitz, BUSN200 Student Facilitator