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  •  The Dalai Lama Touched My Nose Ring

    Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014

    Having the opportunity to meet the Dalai Lama truly was an experience of a lifetime. For a man so world renowned, he interacted with all those around him with incredible humility and patience.  Despite an audience of thousands of people clinging to every word he spoke and eagerly soaking in his message of compassion and peace, Hi s Holiness presented himself in a way that made you feel as if he was speaking directly to you.

    Following his presentation I was given the opportunity to meet him personally as part of a group of students selected to represent Santa Clara University. Anxiously awaiting his arrival, I wondered what he would be like without the stage, the microphone and thousands of people. Regardless of what I was expecting, he was simply normal. The Dalai Lama was refreshingly and humbly normal. Despite his religious, political and cultural significance, he interacted with the group of students as if we were equals. He shared a special message with us, reminding us that it is our generation that must act to spread compassion and peace to all parts of the world.

    This compassion, he emphasized, can best be achieved through education. The knowledge we gain through education creates understanding between cultures and society, destroying barriers that prevent the spread of compassion. Feeling empowered, I eagerly shook his hand before leaving. Much to my surprise His Holiness took his hand and reached up to my face. His finger landed on a small stud in my nose and he broke out into a lively chuckle. He then walked away, surrounded by security, leaving our group in laughter. I think I’ll be leaving that stud in for a while. 
  •  Global Social Benefit Fellow Student Reflection

    Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014

     Kolkata, India and the social enterprises I worked with there, Anudip and iMerit are alive, engaged, genuine, and passionate and that is how I want to live my life. I want to be engaged with my society, genuine in my interactions with others, and confident and consistent in my beliefs.

    I did not hold these lofty goals when I applied to the Global Social Benefit Fellowship. I was simply excited for the opportunity to go abroad and continue to work on my skills as a filmmaker.  These goals were developed in the research and reading in the preparatory fellowship classes and then reinforced in my experiences in Kolkata.


    The classes taught me about the different theories of development, social entrepreneurship, and the great need for innovation and technology in service to humanity.  Anudip and iMerit showed me why all that information matters.


    I saw what earning triple an average family income looks like, and how economic empowerment of women in conservative communities can change perspectives.  It was a synthesis of idea and action. I think many educational institutions strive for, but Santa Clara achieved. The Global Social Benefit Fellowship showed me a way of life radically different from the one I was living, and then gave me the opportunity to enact it.


    Everything I did within GSBF was highly structured. I had brilliant and exceptional mentors throughout the entire experience helping me both define, realize and execute my research plan. It will not always be so.  So, as I enter what college seniors scarily term "Real Life," I intend to do my best to take the education that Anudip, iMerit, and GSBF gave me and continue to act upon it outside of the supportive academic system.

  •  Global Social Benefit Roundtables

    Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013

    Arriving in India was a sensory overload. It has hot. The food was spicy. I couldn’t understand the language and it was a twelve and a half hour time difference.

    Even with extensive preparations through the Global Social Benefit Fellowship, it was hard to process all the experiences we were emerged in daily. Utilizing my film background, I worked with sister enterprises Anudip and iMerit, who focus on rural education and job placement in Eastern India, documenting their methods, processes, and social impact. I regularly took three to four hours trains rides to rural villages to film interviews with both the employees and students of the sister organizations.

    The excursions were enlivening, eye-opening, and my favorite part of my trip providing a true insights into life in rural India. My fellow fellows and I sifted through a lot this information through discussion and blogs over the summer, but the Social Entrepreneurship Action Research Roundtables (SEARR) gave us another opportunity to analyze our time abroad in a more discussion-based manner.

    Our mentors and teachers, Thane Kreiner and Keith Warner, helped fashion us into groups for the roundtables with each team focusing on a different aspect of Social Entrepreneurship. I teamed up with Emily Albi, who worked in Uganda with Solar Sister and Angaza Design, and Jack Bird, who worked with Lifeline Energy in Zambia. As Jack and Emily are very passionate about energy poverty, we decided to center our roundtable on the idea of clean energy in developing nations. While I personally had not dealt with clean energy while working in India with Anudip and iMerit, Jack and Emily were experts on it. After a brief consultation we came up with our name, “Clean Energy: Unlocking Economic Potential,” and we were off.

    The Sunday before our presentation Jack, Emily, and I found our way in to a conference room, opened our laptops and our minds and began to talk, think, discuss, and debate clean energy in the developing world. In setting up the lecture, we decided to play to our strengths. Jack and Emily focused on explaining the idea of energy and the power sustainable energy has as a catalyst for change, while I talked about how energy access in rural areas allowed Anudip and iMerit, the companies I worked for, to enact their business strategy and help rural poor transform their lives.

    After Jack, Emily and I spoke, we planned to open it up to discussion with the audience. This was the part I was most nervous for, relying on audience participation to fuel discussion always makes me nervous because there is no way to predict what might be said or if anything will be said at all. We posed two main questions to the audience, “What defines an energy Social Enterprise?” and, “Does holding Social Enterprises to a triple bottom line hinder their growth and impact?”

    With the first question we hoped to provoke discussion by debating whether PG&E could be considered a social enterprise as they provide energy to ‘underserved’ populations in rural areas. In the second question, we speculated whether clean energy was unlocking potential, or actually undermining potential by restraining scalability in order to keep the enterprise environmentally sustainable.

    The answers for the spectators were phenomenal putting all my fears to rest. The audience was passionate, engaged and voiced defenses of both sides of the issue. The excited discussion and connection of the audience turned our lecture on clean energy into a true roundtable.

    The Social Entrepreneurship Action Research Roundtables were a fantastic opportunity for my fellows and I to organize all the knowledge we had gained while abroad in our respective placements, draw some conclusions, and compare perspectives on key issues. It allowed us voice the experiences we had, and apply them to the materiel we learned developing out action research projects.

    Moreover, the talks helped raise awareness of the fellowship as it ends its second placement and begins to recruit a third class. Hopefully, you attended one, but if you didn't keep an eye out for the talks next year with the next installment of Global Social Benefit Fellows.


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