The Future of Fair Trade

Check out this video from the GO Youtube Channel, which shares ideas from young social entrepreneurs on the coming challenges and opportunities of fair trade. The footage seen is from this spring’s Social Business Panel sponsored by Fordham’s Students for Fair Trade.


Solidarity: Translating the Intangible into Real Change

Be sure to check out the new videos on GO’s YouTube channel! This one addresses the all too common confusion between charity and solidarity. Why interfere with communities abroad? Why volunteer somewhere if you won’t make significant improvements there? Why not just donate the money? GO participants address these questions by explaining what the intangible notion of solidarity really achieves – as well as the essential differences between “helping” and understanding.

New Sustainable Business Course Available for Fall 2011

It’s about time! Starting next fall, Fordham will offer a new introductory course for FCRH and GSB in sustainable business practices.

The course will fill a much needed gap, covering environmentally sustainable business strategies and the potential for profit creation in underserved communities.

Students enrolled in this course can look forward to topics such as:


– Environmental, ethical, and scientific foundations of sustainable business.

– Case studies and guest speakers from companies embracing sustainable business practices and green technologies, including big names such as GE and Vodafone.

– Opportunities for social entrepreneurship.

– Inclusive markets and doing business for profit, social benefit, and sustainability in the 21st Century.


The course will be Wednesdays 11:30am – 2:30pm. To sign up, look for these course numbers:

– FCRH: 16670 ECON 3430 R01

– GSB: MGBU3430 R01


For more information, FCRH students can contact:

Dr. Mary Burke at or Dr. Daryl McLeod at


GSB students can contact:

Dr. Michael Pirson at or Dr. Frank Werner at

GO Peru: Expanding Perspectives

The 2011 Go Peru Team

By Mike Beckage


Upon arriving in Newark, NJ from Lima, Peru in January of this year, the only words I saw fitting to describe my GO! experience were, if anything, vague and abstract:  indescribable, unbelievable, unparalleled, etc.  Quite honestly, I had never experienced anything like what I just gone through, and my foremost problem upon returning was explaining what exactly I did and saw.  With a new semester in full swing and weeks already flying off the calendar, I still find it difficult to sit back and adequately sort everything out.


Imagine your thoughts and ideas about the world stored in a large, neat filing cabinet, everything in its place.  Now imagine watching drawer after drawer being taken out and emptied onto the floor in an unintelligible heap of ideas, sentiments, and thoughts.  This is the feeling I had upon touching down at Newark International Airport.  Luckily, I’ve had the help of my fellow team members and some close friends to help me put my thoughts back into a new order, but the process will be an ongoing one.


With the help of Community Links International, our time in Peru was split among working with a local parish and community center, San Esteban, and going on cultural excursions to archaeological sites, museums, and the like. As such, GO! Peru is a hybrid project – half immersion based and half service based.  The twelve members of our team, as well as eleven volunteers from Washington University of St. Louis, stayed in the house belonging to the family of our Community Links contact, Grower Rios Castillo.


This being my first time out of the United States, the opportunity to live with a Peruvian family for a week was something I anticipated eagerly.  I wanted to absorb the salient details of what life in Lima, Peru was like, and with the help of Grower and his family I truly felt that I accomplished this goal.  We were prepared meals, taught how to dance, and taken all over the city and the region.


In the second half of our week in Lima, I experienced one of the more revelatory and significant days in my life.  After trekking through the pre-Incan ruins of Pachacamac, we piled into the bus that took us around the region all week.  I didn’t know exactly where we were going, but soon enough, we were driving through one of the more impoverished areas surrounding Lima.


I had noticed these regions from afar earlier in the week, sitting in the comfort of an air-conditioned bus; I saw vast stretches of very small, flimsy houses built into the sides of what seemed to be huge sand dunes – sand mountains even. There was no grass to speak of, only sand.


Now, in the middle of one of these regions, our bus came to a stop, and we got out.  We were ushered into a church by a nun who introduced herself as Sister Claire from County Clare, Ireland.  She had moved to this region, which I found out was called Villa El Salvador, with the intent of staying there only three years.  She has now been living and working there for fourteen.


In the middle of this arid district, which I initially saw only as poor and dilapidated, I suddenly found myself wanting to drop everything and move there to devote all that I could to these people.  Sister Claire sat us all down and spoke with us about the history of the region and the spirit of the people.  As she went on, and as my questions piled up, she seemed to be reading my mind and answering them one by one.  She spoke with a confidence and clarity seldom found among people today, at least people that I have met.  After our talk, we agreed to a tour of the region led by the Sister.


As our group took a closer look at Villa El Salvador, I noticed the depressed state of the area further.  Where we have grass on our ground at home, they had sand and trash.  Dogs had free roam of the place, and children were tramping around this trash-littered sand barefoot.  But the most striking feature I noticed amid this landscape had nothing to do with what the people didn’t have, but rather what they did have:  smiles.  Almost every person whom we met in Villa El Salvador greeted us with a smiling face, an amiable disposition, and genuine hospitality.


Sister Claire had explained to us that much of the social progress in the region was achieved through the hard work and sacrifice of those who lived there; residents of V.E.S. were happy to have a chance to make a difference for their community.  Indeed, electricity, sewage, and water services were all attained by those in the community, and progress is only improving.  New sewage pipes were being installed as we walked around the district.  Indeed, I saw more smiling faces in the hour I spent walking around V.E.S. than I have seen in New York City in the two years I have lived here.  As Sister Claire led us back to our bus and saw us off, I was sure that what she imparted to me and what I saw was a game-changer for me; indeed, it was a life-changer.


My feelings about poverty before this experience were feelings of charity with a hint of condescension, although this was not intentional.  I had always seen the issue as a matter of what I have versus what those in poverty don’t have materially, as well as what I could give to others.  I always thought that those living in places such as V.E.S. automatically wanted the help of others. I never for a second paused to think about what those in poverty could give to me immaterially.


What I learned on that dry summer day in Peru with the guidance of Sister Claire and my team members was that value does not, and indeed should not, stem from those material things that you have or can give to others.  I recognized the worth and impact of the spirit of people I met, and I saw what a community motivated to work together can accomplish.  I learned that considering myself to be altogether “privileged” wasn’t exactly the right way to see things, and that I stand to gain much from interaction with and observation of others, whether they have twice as much as I or half as much materially.


This is why I think the immersion aspect of GO! Peru was unbelievably important.  It not only exposed me to another way of life, but it forced me to bring together mine with another wholly different one in order to create a more holistic, informed, and passionate view of the race which I belong to – the human race.  I learned that those things uniting us take preeminence over those that divide us.  This is something invaluable and precious to me, and as I continue to process the lessons learned on my project, I will always remember the week as the most formative experience of my life.

GO Belize: Building a Fresh Start

The 2011 Belize team after building a house with Hand in Hand Ministry.

By Valerie Grant


Our trip to Belize lasted nine days—just enough time for the eleven of us to establish nightly rituals of yo-yoing, Garifuna singing and dancing, and cherished late-night conversations; to adjust to each other’s sleeping habits and our new rice and bean diets; and most importantly, to adapt to life in a foreign country that differed from our own in many obvious and some unexpected ways.


As soon as we stepped off the plane on New Year’s Day, the warm night that greeted us let us know we had left snowy New York City far behind.  Our trip coordinator Roxanne and her family greeted us at the airport and drove us to our accommodations, the Starfish House located in Belize City.  We began the next day by walking down the street to the beach, where the beautiful and well-kept properties that gave us an impression of Belize as a coastal environment that was not radically different from the beaches back home.  We spent the remainder of the day travelling just outside Belize City to Altun Ha, the site of the Mayan Temples.  A tour guide told us about the daily lives of Belize’s original inhabitants, and we had the chance to climb the awesome and somewhat terrifying pyramids.


Our main service project, building a Hand-in-Hand ministry sponsored home for a woman named Guadalupe, started bright and early on the third day of the trip.  The short ten minute drive from the Starfish brought us to a strikingly different neighborhood.  Giant potholes interrupted the dirt road every few feet; poorly constructed and barely maintained homes surrounded the worksite; and previous visitors to our empty lot had covered the overgrown grass with trash.  It seemed hard to imagine that this would be the place for Guadalupe’s fresh start.


Fortunately, our tight schedule did not allow for too much time to be spent on culture shock.  The two contractors, Bata and Alfonso, put us right to work: weeding, disposing of trash, and mixing cement to seal the cinderblock foundation.  Soon, we started constructing the wooden base of the house, and by the end of the day, the entire base was constructed and water-sealed.  The next three days, work on our sixteen-by-sixteen foot house mostly continued as it had began, but each day, various members of Guadalupe’s family would come help us work.  Her sister, Virginia, and her father quickly won us over with their great work ethic and ability to laugh at our construction blunders (and then quickly fix our mistakes). By the end of the third day, we were ready to raise the walls.  While a couple of us held the first, upright wall in place, the remainder of the team pushed the adjacent wall into place on Bata’s count of three.  For a moment it seemed that our entire house might go toppling over; instead, the walls fit perfectly together.


Just in time for the house dedication ceremony, Bata nailed the roof’s last shingle into place.  The ceremony brought together the coordinators of Hand-in-Hand ministries, everyone who helped construct the house, and Guadalupe and her family.  Fr. Joe offered a blessing, than we all sang hymns and our team gave Guadalupe truly Belizean housewarming gifts: rice, hot sauce, and fruitcake and presented Guadalupe with the keys to her brand-new home.  The freshly painted wooden house had transformed the formerly homely lot into a welcoming place where we could easily imagine Guadalupe’s family gathering together.


With just two days left in Belize, we had enough time to explore the city a bit further.  We spent one morning visiting Hand-in-Hand’s outreach center and nursery for children affected by HIV, and the hours spent playing with the children – who ranged from six months to six years – were definitely a trip highlight for us all.  That night, Garifuna dancers came to share their interesting heritage with us through song and dance, and we all had fun attempting to “shuffle” and sing-along with them.


Our final full day was spent taking a boat to Caye Caulker where we explored the beautiful island and snorkeled with sharks, sting rays, and the coral reefs.  Our relaxing beach day served as the perfect conclusion to a trip that was at times physically and emotionally challenging, and allowed us to see the Belize that attract thousands of tourists each year.  Though our nine days in Belize passed quickly, our trip lasted just long enough for each member of our team to form a lasting attachment to the country and to one another.

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