750 participants. 150 colleges and universities. 100 sessions. 3 days. 1 Ashoka U Exchange.

By Kalese Justice, Rollins College Student and Innovation Hub Bonner Leader

I had the amazing opportunity of being one of the only two students who were chosen to attend the Ashoka U Exchange conference in Miami from Thursday, March 2nd through Saturday, March 4th. The Ashoka U Exchange is an annual conference that takes place in a different city each year. The Exchange is not your ordinary conference. It focuses on social innovation, social change, and social entrepreneurship within higher education on college campuses. The conference is packed with keynote speakers, panels, workshops, and site visits to some of the community partners that surround the conference center. At the Exchange people from all over the world come to learn how they can develop a stronger system to create social innovation within their everyday life and on their campus. Personally, for me, this Exchange was about learning what it means to make a social impact at Rollins College.

From a 1st year undergraduate student’s perspective, the exchange conference was something that I have never seen nor been introduced to before. There were people from all over the world. Each person came to Ashoka U because we all share the same passion—wanting to make a change in the world. However, each person at the exchange came in with a new innovative idea and hoped to learn how to make that change in the world or on their college campus. The diversity in race and age was incredible and inspiring. There were over 80 sessions to choose from spread out over the course of 3 days. I was so excited about the sessions, so much that I wish I could go back in time and attend all the sessions again. Each session held new knowledge, opportunities and programs that had to do with either social innovation, social change, or social entrepreneurship. Although, many of the sessions were geared towards educators in higher education, I must say that I still learned more than I expected. One of my favorite sessions took place at the Pérez Art Museum Miami. The Pérez Museum is about enriching the community that you are a part of. The museum takes the original museum experience beyond the museum’s walls and into the community with a variety of outreach programs across Miami-Dade County. One of the outreach programs is called B-Me. B-Me is an organization that focuses on asset- framing to tell better stories. They recognize black men as assets and not threats to the community. In our session, a couple of things stood out to me, the first being “value all members of the human family” and the second “the story you tell creates the life you will live”. If every human could value everyone as a part of their own family, then the world would become a better place over night. Today in society people are too wrapped up in creating a judgement on people based on their skin color or their past.  How we value others depends on how we value ourselves. “You will be as much value to others as you have been to yourself”. – Marcs T Cicero


Sullivan Ignite Retreat: a powerful weekend of personal and professional growth

by Evan Joss, Rollins College student

The Sullivan Ignite Retreat was a three-day retreat to Durham, North Carolina where students had the opportunity to hone in on their changemaking skills to make a positive difference in the world.  Like-minded changemakers joined together and enjoyed a weekend full of s’mores, arts and crafts, and social innovation!  As a student involved with the Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Hub at Rollins, I learned skills that I could bring back and use at school and at the Hub.

The Sullivan Ignite Retreat not only provided a constructive learning atmosphere among like-minded and entrepreneurial spirited individuals, but it also shed light on the importance of making connections and breaking free from comfort zones. Students attend this retreat to learn more about the problems they wish to solve, network with students from around the world, and expand their knowledge of what it means to truly be an entrepreneur.

The most significant skill I gained from this experience came from an activity I participated in that allowed me to pretend I was a business owner speaking with certain investors, partners, and/or customers I would interact with if I really was the owner of my business. It gave me insight into the necessity of real-world conversations that are vital to creating and sustaining a business.

In terms of how this retreat impacted my professional goals, I would not only say it was a positive result, but would also recommend it to anyone interested in growing an idea, project, or business venture of their own. From the facilitators to the students to the cafeteria cooks, everyone involved with this experience was dedicated to honestly instilling a meaningful and powerful weekend of personal and professional growth.

The best part of the Sullivan Ignite Retreat is that it is never-ending. Even though the retreat itself may have only been one weekend long, I am still connected and involved with the people I met and worked with. However, they are not just people anymore. They are my friends.

Thoughts about the Re-Thinking Fashion Event

by students of Rollins College

The Rethinking Fashion Event took place on March 28th, 2017 in the Galloway Room.  Students modeled clothing lines by Eileen Fisher, Deux Mains, and Ten Thousand Villages, all ethical and sustainable businesses.  Dr. Warnecke’s Global Development class shared their thoughts about this unique event.  With Earth Day just around the corner, now is a great time to revisit what students gained from this experience.

The Rethinking Fashion Event was a great success! Students enjoyed an informative poster session about ethical and sustainable businesses, followed by an extravagant fashion show while they enjoyed some yummy food like samosas and coconut crusted chicken!  During the poster session, attendees learned about ethical fashion, fair trade companies, and the practices of these companies.  The runaway show offered the opportunity to see ethical and sustainable clothes products in action.  As consumers, we must be aware of the products that we are buying and the statement we are making with our money.  The event helped educate students and attendees about this.  There are so many ways for each and every one of us to be a changemaker–spending wisely is just one way this can be achieved.  The producers are changemakers as well!

 For example, one student learned about a backpack that was made by indigenous people in Guatemala–they learned the process and how long it took to make.  For many students, the poster session helped increase their knowledge about sustainable and ethical fashion.  There’s a lot of work that goes into fashion that consumers don’t know about and thus contributes to higher prices.  Artists work hard to get their line out for purchase, sometimes being paid 50% of the price beforehand so that they can afford to buy supplies without taking on loans.  Modeling is tough work, too! Our models had to make sure they looked their best before the show and took the time to get their hair and makeup done by our community organizers! The end result was absolutely amazing.

 Through attendance of the Fashion Event, students will be more mindful when shopping at these companies and become ethical consumers.  Students also had a great opportunity to network with Ten Thousand Villages, Deux Mains (Rebuild Globally) and Eileen Fisher.  Learning more about these companies is a great way to further your pursuit of making changes through fashion.  Ten Thousand Villages has a store right off Park Ave–it’s worth checking out! The convenient location was a nice surprise for those just learning about these companies.  Some students that already knew about these companies were surprised to find out some of the business policies that these ethical businesses utilize.  During the event, attendees got the chance to buy merchandise from Deux Mains.  Now, you may be wondering why there weren’t as many men modeling during the fashion show.  Well, the answer is that there is currently no sustainable or ethical fashion line available for men in the immediate area that the Innovation Hub could partner with.  Perhaps in the future, this will be something that can be achieved.  

The models were successful in showing off the products.  The Global Links students that were visiting from Kolkata, India added an additional cultural layer to the event that was widely appreciated.  Their colorful dresses left the attendees stunned.  The event was a highlight for them and they certainly enjoyed their time participating in the event.

 The Global Development students prepared the poster session, showcasing global problems that they wanted to solve.  Going to the fashion show was an eye-opener to learn about what makes a poster stand out and how to conduct a good presentation.  Overall, the Re-thinking Fashion event was a fun learning experience for everyone and showed how you can look fashionable while being a changemaker at the same time!  Thank you so much to the Innovation Hub for setting up this event and helping us become smarter consumers!  



Thoughts from our Global Links Changemakers!

To begin with, let’s just say what we experienced these last 2 weeks was different, very different.  Different in the best possible way! The regular conversations about the 2 weeks with our family and friends back home have been subtle mentions that we want to go back to Florida. Hence a compilation of the things which the 5 of us want to highlight.

1. In this foreign country, we were fortunate enough to receive a home, away from home. We got a family, leaving whom was the toughest part of our trip abroad.

2.  We never realized that the college campus could be this huge! For us Rollins College is a town within a town! Exploring the greater area of Orlando highlighted how much bigger the Rollins community is.  There is a lot for students to do here!

3. The Innovation Hub is the coolest space ever! How we wish we could spend our entire day spinning in those lounge chairs.

4.  The bright faces of people greeting us all the time, automatically, brightened up our day. All the people we met and interacted with in these last 2 weeks had a great impact on us.

5.  Dreams came true and everything seemed magical at Disney and Universal. We can’t stop thanking Mr. Accapadi and Austin for arranging our tickets and Liz for spending her entire day with us at Disney. Best weekend ever, undoubtedly!

6. How could we not mention the food which was a surprise to us daily!  We got to try dishes that we wouldn’t have gotten the chance to try in India.

To conclude, we made the most out of the 2 weeks and the love and support that we got was overwhelming.  We look forward to meeting everyone again. We are sending out an open invitation for all to visit India. So, until next time!

-Kalapi Dutta

Shirsita Banerjee

Sreedipta Dhar Choudhury

Surabhi Mishra

Swayan Ghosh

(Global Links Changemakers)