Hatching Global Awareness
By Tina Kramer
Students from the Macklin Business Institute (MBI), the College’s honors-level business program, took a break this past January from crunching numbers to teach public school students about the economic impact of microloans.
Using the book One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference as a basis, MBI students led hands-on activities for students at Clearspring Elementary School in Damascus, Springbrook High School in Wheaton, and Mary of Nazareth School in Darnestown. This is the second year that they have worked with county students.
The book tells the story of Kojo, a young boy from Ghana who uses part of a microloan to buy one hen, and then sells the eggs laid by the hen to grow his business. Eventually, Kojo becomes the largest chicken farmer in his country, paying wages to support many families in his community, and paying taxes that improve roads, schools, and other community services.
After reading the book together, the MBI team led the younger students in a role-playing activity to pick an identity of a member in a microloan community, choose a business based on what they believed would be successful for the country’s economy, and then experience a variety of economic challenges in their businesses.
“The kids loved it,” said MBI team leader Paola Castillo ’11. “They worked together so their group could pay back the loan. There was lots of heated debate. They definitely understood the concept.”
When the role playing ended, the MBI team helped the younger students research prospective microloans at KIVA (www.kiva.org), a Web site devoted to microlending, and allowed the students to make decisions on how to distribute $150 supplied by the Montgomery College Foundation to fund microloans around the world.
“MBI enjoyed being with the kids, and they enjoyed it, too,” said Castillo.
In 2010, the MBI students were named regional champions and also received the Top 20 Best Projects Award in the market economics category at the Students in Free Enterprise competition in Philadelphia for the One Hen project. The team then advanced to the national competition in Minneapolis, where they made it to the semifinal round.
Lisa Poole ’12, far right, was part of a Macklin Business Institute team that led Mary of Nazareth School students in fun activities to help them understand the basics