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SIFE wins second national title

Jul 31, 2009
by Staff

Flagler Students in Free Enterprise become two-time national champs

Photo Gallery: SIFE

Whether teaching Nepalese refugees or training young employees on workplace ethics, the Flagler College Students In Free Enterprise team produced several unique projects this year that not only helped others, but also earned them a second national championship.

Students worked on approximately 20 projects that created economic opportunity by teaching concepts related to free market economics and other business issues. The projects paid off in May when Flagler took home first place at the 136-team SIFE USA National Competition in Philadelphia.

Among those projects was Suruwat, a success skills and financial literacy program designed for the roughly 6,000 Nepali refugees who were recently moved to Jacksonville, Fla. FCSIFE president Jessica Welch said Suruwat means “creating new beginnings” and the program is designed to help the refugees adjust to American culture.

“They had just spent the past 17 years living in refugee camps in primitive conditions and faced many challenges while adjusting to life in America,” said Sheila Acharya, an FCSIFE co-secretary whose family is originally from Nepal. “FCSIFE saw the struggles these people faced every day and decided to take the opportunity to share our knowledge and help them transition into this new country.”

FCSIFE has organized educational field trips to a bank and a grocery store, arranged weekly meetings and prepared seminars on topics like getting into college, house cleaning and learning English. Acharya said the friendships sparked by Suruwat have been educational for both the refugees and the Flagler students.

Another popular FCSIFE project was an ethics training video created for the Winmark Corp. The project recently earned FCSIFE the Jenzabar Foundation’s 2009 Leadership Award, which gives the team a $5,000 grant to develop and market ethics videos nationwide. The unique Winmark videos take a funny, informal approach to address topics such as theft, honesty and customer service.

“I think the videos were effective not only because we understood the problems faced by the franchise owners, but also because most of Winmark’s 9,000 employees are 16 to 25,” Welch said. “We created the videos with our interests in mind. We had to enjoy the video, or the employees wouldn’t.”

Donna DeLorenzo, who advises FCSIFE along with Barry Sand, said she was proud of the team’s progress and dedication: “Their projects were great and sincere and authentic … I think we take a very unique approach, and all the projects are extremely creative.”

“The team is really excited,” Welch said. “I think our projects will stand out at the World Cup for the same reason they did at nationals: We are personally invested in every project that we do.”

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