Thursday, May 24, 2012

We have a new link

Dear Friends,
Going forward please follow us at:
Thank you in advance for joining us on our new adventures!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Welcome to the 2012 program!

Dear friends and Future Followers,

It's hard to believe that it's been a year since our inaugural program, but it's now time to celebrate new beginning as the 2012 Budapest Program kicks off with seven very talented Georgia Tech students, and two faculty to lead this small, but mighty group.

During the next seven weeks you will get to know Courtney, Hannah, Kami, Kayla, Nicole, Roshani, and Tanay, and read about our adventures in Hungary including many amazing site visits, guest lectures, the internships, our partner organizations, the weekend travels, etc...

Join us on the journey!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Check out the Budapest Program video

Casey, my hardest working and very talented student assistant, filmed and edited this wonderful short VIDEO about the program. I hope you'll enjoy watching it. It is a summary of all the great things we've seen and done this past summer.

We had a successful Study Abroad Fair today. A big Thank You goes out to the amazing team at Tech's Office of International Education (Tara, Lorie, Amy and all) who worked so hard to put this fair together.
We had more than 35 students stop by our table to hear about the program. I realize some were mostly interested in the Hungarian candy we had for grab, but who came blame them - Hungarian sweets, just like everything else Hungarian, is hard not to like.

Many thanks to Chelsea as well for coming to the fair and telling students about her experiences this past summer.

To those of you out there thinking about doing something great next summer, check out our website and go ahead and apply!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Gearing Up for Next Year

Michael's award-winning shot of the beautiful Danube at night

Dear Friends,

It's been a while since we posted on this blog - we all got busy after we returned from Hungary.

The success of our inaugural program resonated with a lot of people both in Atlanta, and back in Hungary, so Bob Thomas and I are excited to continue our work, and we are already preparing for next year's adventure.

We have the dates in place: May 14 through June 28, and we will offer the same three management courses for a total of 9 credits.
The widely popular experiential learning component - a project with a social enterprise on the ground in Budapest - will also be offered, and two of the three courses (approval pending on the third) qualify for the Leadership Minor and/or the Entrepreneurship Certificate.

The Program Fee stayed the same, but this year we are excited to offer scholarships sponsored by the Institute for Leadership and Entrepreneurship. You can find more details about that and all the important info about next year's program on our website.

Tomorrow is the annual Study Abroad Fair at Tech: 10am - 2pm at the Student Center, so if you are in the area come and see us - we'll have Hungarian candy and lots of enthusiasm :)

More updates about next year's program to follow, and if you are ready to join us on the program, go ahead and fill out the application on the OIE website.

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Final Session

On Wednesday the 13th of July our little group concluded the Budapest 2011 program with our final presentations... After six weeks of diligent, challenging, and fulfilling work we found ourselves out of time. It has been so insanely, unquestionably fun, and we were all sad to see it come to an end. However, before we all bid our farewells as we each went our separate ways, we had one last round of presentations. Joined by our two gracious guests, Aron of Fruit of Care, Daniel of Stanford (yes that Stanford), and Mr. Sandor Koles, we each preceded to give our presentations regarding what work we had accomplished for our respective internships.

After working for Fruit of Care for the past six weeks, Michael and Jordan give their final thoughts and recommendations concerning the path that Fruit of Care should take in the future. Met with great enthusiasm by their guest, their suggestions were nothing short of highly informed and full of potential. They had not only done their job, but with the help of the knowledge gained through the program, they had done their job well.

Next up was our very own Chelsea Bailey. She did an incredible job presenting her work on the Rural Workshop Foundation to not only the class but also to the very attentive Mr. Sandor Koles. Her diligent task of translating the website for the organization was nothing short of daunting but was completed in both a timely and impressive manner. Another point for the students of Budapest 2011.

Next stop was Ms. Sarah Chang. After weeks of working with CEE Web, her recommendations on how exactly to make the organization more efficient were profound in the very least. After a short time explaining the role of the organization in today's world, it became clear to all those listening just how important the work of this organization was to the future of biodiversity and to that of the environment as a whole. Another point for the students.

Last but certainly not least was Mr. Daniel Jakus presenting his findings and recommendations for Habitat for Humanity Hungary. Wearing a fantastic suit and rocking a great attitude, Mr. Jakus saw too it that the program had a fitting conclusion as he talked about all the great work Habitat has done and continues to do. One of the best endings the Budapest program could have had? Maybe... But yest it was probably the best way to end it...

After a quick shopping spree for the products of Fruit of Care, it was time for our farewell dinner. It was now time for one last goodbye (even though we a reflection class in the morning)... It had been tremendously fun. We had met so many terrific people. And we had learned more than we ever thought possible. We had made new friends and acquaintances. It had only been six weeks, but we had done so much... Thank you for following us for the duration of this program. We appreciate your support and you interest! Spread the word about his program! It deserves it!!!

Sincerely yours,

The Breakfast Club (Budapest 2011)

Friday, July 8, 2011

Open Garden at Gödöllő

Today we made a site visit to Open Garden in Gödöllő. Matthew Hayes told us the history of the farm. It began as a university project about community supported agriculture, an agricultural model where the community and the farmers both share the risks of production. The farm would grow crops and the community would pay for the crops they would receive ahead of time, so that the farm would have enough capital to move forward. The advantages of having a small, community garden are that it is better for the environment and better for the local economy. A downside, though, is that the consumer gets less choice about what he or she will receive. This contrasted greatly with Hungary’s trend towards many consumer choices following the democratic transition. This CSA project grew well, but did not turn out to be as successful as intended because of inadequate business planning.

The farm then became an open garden. It worked in a similar fashion, but people had more choices in what produce they could purchase because of partnerships with other gardens. It was interesting to hear about the role this garden played in making community. It provided a place for people to volunteer, to have festivals, and to share recipes.

The garden had also always been used for practical education in agriculture for Saint Stephen University. In recent years, it transitioned to functioning primarily for this purpose, as the open garden project’s scope had become too large. Many of the players had been worn out by the many demanding projects the garden had taken on, and so they decided to focus in on a few key activities. We hear a lot about scaling up, but this was an interesting perspective into why a social enterprise might want to scale down.

The food produced is organic, and the farm vies for financial and environmental sustainability. They keep chickens on the farm to provide manure, and as a byproduct, they also get eggs. They do, however, have to devote a portion of the farm to growing food for the chickens. They get much of their heating in the winter by burning wood, some from the property.

What I found most interesting about this presentation was learning about the progression of the farm through the years. It was clear that as they were acting, they were learning a lot. As they learned, they tried to make changes to best adapt to their environment. I admired this ability to adapt. It was clear that the context of a community plays a big role in the success of a social venture. While the open garden model had been very successful in the UK and Western Europe, certain cultural differences in Hungary made it less effective.

We all felt very honored the rest of the afternoon as we had a delicious Hungarian lunch, met the vice-mayor of Gödöllő, rang the town’s ceremonial peace gong, and got to visit the palace there. It was interesting to learn that the mayor and vice-mayor are not aligned with a particular political party, but are part of a civic group, formed to represent the needs of the town. Gödöllő has been in the spotlight lately because parts of Hungary’s EU Presidency took place here. Gödöllő was a very pretty town, and it was a lovely visit.

On the left is Dr. Terry Blum, Director of the Institute for Leadership and Entrepreneurship, visiting our program.

The Final Speakers

Guest Speaker Paola Greiner on Venture Philanthropy

On Thursday we were fortunate enough to have two speaker presentations. The first was with Paola Greiner who currently works for the EU. Paola has a degree in Social Entrepreneurship from the London school of Economics and is very involved in the non-profit sector. The presentation she gave was focused on Venture Philanthropy in Europe. Venture Philanthropy is not an easy topic to discuss or learn. According to Wikipedia, Venture Philanthropy is defined as "Taking concepts and techniques from venture capital finance and high technology business management and applies them to achieving
philanthropic goals." Paola described Venture Philanthropy in Europe as philanthropic giving to social purpose organizations with an emphasis on performance and a combination of expertise and financial support. In Europe Venture Philanthropy is focused at the organizational level because it is seen as a more rewarding style of giving. During her presentation, Paola also spent a few minutes to discuss the European venture Philanthropy Association (EVPA) with us. The EVPA has 31 current full members and many more supporters. The organizations involved with EVPA tend to support social welfare initiatives while focusing on expansion and replication. The EVPA is set up in order to help finance small non-profit groups that need funding. The funding is mostly provided through grants, however some agencies do provide loans. The EVPA is not only a financial based organization. Alongside their financial initiatives, the EVPA also provides business plan development, management training, and other programs necessary to running a successful Non-Profit. In total, Paola's presentation was very helpful to myself and the others in the group because until now Venture Philanthropy has been difficult to grasp the general concept of.

Conversation With Student Social Entrepreneurs of The Volunteer Construction Camp

Here is a link with some background on the student Organization I will be discussing below.

The second presentation on Thursday was by a small student organization from the college for advanced studies in Social theory. The student organization consisted of board members and other members in charge of running the Social Housing Reconstruction Camps in Hungary. The Social Housing Reconstruction Camps is a program based in Hungary which focuses on helping poor families reduce their rent in exchange for growth in the value of government properties. The program focuses on getting small local governments to agree that if the poor community work to improve the status of their government provided housing, they can in turn reduce their rent. The program believes that the main outcomes of the program will be that those involved in the re modification of the housing projects will gain a sense of pride in where they live and they will also learn to basic working skills. The main project that the group has been working on is focused on a slum community called Ligetvaros which is in the city of Nagykanizsa. Ligetvaros is a slum of 110 council flats which were originally built as military hospital barracks. Sewage and plumbing was added to the community in 1989 and there has been no reconstruction since. Because of thee help of the Social Housing Reconstruction Camps, the Ligetvaros has been able to improve the condition of their community and almost 70 community members have been able to reduce their rent and completely eliminate their debt. The success of the Social Housing Reconstruction Camps is reliant on a lot of outside help. Through the cooperation of many corporate sponsors such as Dewalt and other tool, and home improvement companies, The SHRC is provided with the tools necessary for housing reconstruction. The SHRC is also partnered with habitat for Humanity which provides them with volunteers and supplies in order to further their accomplishments. Along with tool donations and other essential supplies the SHRC also receives funding from Norwegian Grants. While the program is very new, the student group emphasized that they have already learned many valuable lessons about how to run a successful charity organization. The SHRC is currently waiting to hear back from local government if their application to become an officially registered Non-Profit has been approved or not. The meeting ended with a round of Q&A and then we were finished. In all I was able to tell that the SHRC has the ambition needed to become a great organization and I speak for myself and my colleagues when I wish them the best of luck in the future.