Final Post

As the last days of Wake Forest class this semester are upon us, professors Dr. Simonelli and Dr. Gatewood are busy grading the students for their overall class performance for the Chiapas program and their final projects.  Below you will find paragraphs from each group of students about their project.  Each group chose a specific way to help out one or more of the cooperatives that we visited with in Chiapas.  Not only did this course provide for an amazing educational experience in a foreign country, but we have been able to incite actual tangible change that we hope will aid the cooperatives in their futures.

Lunatik: Will Owens, Spencer Slocum, Aaron Bullock, Jessica Forkosh

We performed a textile market analysis for Lunatik by writing and publishing a survey which was distributed to friends and family. Our findings follow: for the men’s shirt the band collar just isn’t going to fly. Furthermore, most men responded that having a single breast pocket was a purchase qualifier. Based on the survey, 31% said they would prefer online for buying Mayan clothing. This in mind, we strongly recommended that Lunatik seek out an online platform from which they can distribute their products. We recommend the website etsy.com and would be happy to help them break into this market if Lunatik asks for help.

Furthermore, we recommend that Lunatik greatly increase their accounting standards which, at this point in time, are hardly visible. By doing so, Lunatik will be better able to track their costs and revenues and be more transparent for microfinance institutions.

At the end of the day, the purpose for Lunatik is their social causes, not market share, revenue growth, and profit. But if Lunatik follows some basic business practices they will undoubtedly be able to generate more profit which they can use to further advance their social causes.

Mayan Curriculum Supplement: Sarah Crosier, Kaitlyn Hudgins, Emily Bachman

This project hopes to explore Mayan heritage by using firsthand information and original writings and illustrations by modern Mayan people in order to create accurate primary source supplements for all ages of education. The results will hopefully highlight important facts and aspects of ancient Mayan culture in accordance with North Carolina Public School Curriculum guidelines, and raise awareness of the modern Mayan people’s livelihoods. Because this was not the focus of our time in Chiapas, the program is in its conceptual stages still. For the project to materialize we will need to identify, with the help of Mayan communities, the appropriate information to highlight in the sources, based on what they think should be communicated in a public school education curriculum. We will also need to gather the quotes, stories, drawings, photographs, and video footage to include in the supplement package, and to create the content of each part of the supplement. Additionally, the curriculum will need to be checked against the public school requirements for the unit and eventually be marketed to and tested by teachers. The pioneer material will most likely be the children’s book and DVD components to be used in an elementary school setting. It would include an informational story book in a “from kid to kid” perspective and format. The book will include photographs and illustrations by modern Mayan children. The format for both the book and DVD should be focused on learning a couple of important cultural aspects, approximately 5 Mayan words, and the similarities and differences between ancient and modern Mayan life. We are really excited about the potential of our project and the impact it could have in classrooms across North Carolina and even in Chiapas.

Maya Vinic: Ellen Hart, Camille Morgan.

For our project, Camille and I originally intended to create an Etsy page for one of the weaving cooperatives that we met in Chiapas. However, upon realizing that there were many unanticipated challenges in this, we decided to adopt the “cooperative spirit” of never-ending flexibility and make up a Plan B on the spot. Because no one had yet taken on the coffee cooperative Maya Vinic for their project, we decided to delve into creative ways and strategies to improve their marketing techniques for the United States.

So the next day we got up bright and early to drive all around Winston Salem, hitting places like Whole Foods, Starbucks, Krankies Coffee, and World Villages to see how they marketed and branded their coffee. Once we started really brainstorming, our project blossomed and took on several different angles. We explored WFU students’ coffee preferences in a survey, and based on what we saw of the image-making strategies of the businesses we researched, we came up with a couple of new prototype coffee bags that Maya Vinic could use as inspiration if they chose. Camille also had some great ideas, like making coffee sleeves out of recycled burlap bags, or partnering with a pottery cooperative to sell coffee mugs.

The project may be completed for the class, but by no means do we intend to stop working to find ways to assist Maya Vinic in their marketing. Currently I am translating documents, websites, and social networking pages, and we are also excited to say that, if all goes well with the taste-testing, Krankies coffee in Winston Salem is considering buying from Maya Vinic as well!

Photography Distribution to all Cooperatives: Caroline Dignes

For her project, Caroline gathered photographs that the students had taken during their time in Chiapas at cooperatives to send to each cooperative.  Since they usually do not have access to good cameras ,these photos will be unique and well done.  Each cooperative will receive their own photographs, which they can then use for marketing and other promotional materials.

Ecopeful Research: Stephanie Edwards, Ella Douglas, Caroline McCandless

Ella, Caroline, and Stephanie independently undertook three various research topics so that once combined and collaborate could assist Emily in her venture of forming a business selling fairly traded goods. By studying the motivations of the Fair Trade movement coming to America, current market strategies of Fair Trade businesses, and the resultant attitudes of consumers towards these strategies Emily will be better informed and can skip the mistakes of former projects and have a more successful beginning. In addition to research directly helping her business, the founding of a Fair Trade Club at Wake Forest University will be looked into. This will help to increase education on the subject to students and will help organize businesses like Emily’s to come to campus and sell their products directly to college students.

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About WFUinChiapas

As the program assistant, I will be updating this blog daily as I join the Wake Forest students and professors in adventures throughout Chiapas. Enjoy! -Emily Taylor
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