August 2018 Newsletter
Dear Family, Friends, and Supporters:
Hello from Michigan! I am back in the States for a few weeks to attend a family friend’s wedding and fund raise for the Maria Lida Foundation! I hope that you all enjoyed your Summer and are ready to start the Fall season. We made a ton of progress in August and have exciting news to share, so let’s get to it!
Work with the Foundation’s Vice President
For the month of August, I had the privilege of hosting Rosemary, the Vice President of our Board of Directors, in Alausí. Rosemary is a native of Riobamba, Ecuador (a town located about an hour and a half outside of Alausí) and is fluent in English, Spanish, and French. She also has an impressive resume including experience in small business ownership, small business consulting, and creating and implementing an international exchange program at the University level in the United States.
During her time in Alausí, Rosemary and I had the goal of meeting with as many stakeholders as possible to understand what is going on in Alausí: what are the issues which hinder local economic development, what things are working, and how could we best help. We met with numerous additional people in the community of Alausí including business owners, tourists, the Mayor and his office, the town’s tourism office, teachers, school administrators, families, train employees, taxi drivers, tourism employees, etc. These meetings were very valuable as they allowed us to introduce ourselves and the Foundation and hear their ideas and feedback. It was also great to see that many of the people we met with are truly appreciative of the work we are trying to accomplish in Alausí, hopeful for the future of the town, and are ready to help us!
After holding many meetings with the various stakeholders of Alausí, Rosemary and I learned that most people were most excited about the idea of the Maria Lida Foundation offering basic and intensive English courses to adults in the community. There are very few people in Alausí who speak basic English, and many people have the desire to better communicate with tourists who are visiting the area and speak little to no Spanish. This information was very valuable to us and we are glad that we spent time talking to as many people as we did. It is important to the Foundation to incorporate feedback from the community of Alausí in order to build stronger partnerships, cultivate better relationships, and create self-sustaining impact.
Based on feedback from the town, the Foundation plans to launch pilot basic and intensive English courses sometime in the Fall of this year. We hope that the pilot classes will better equip people in the community to work in the tourism industry (before an increase of tourism in the area occurs), show community members that we will incorporate their feedback, and help us learn how to best offer English classes that will yield valuable results for the students. We very much look forward to reporting how we develop these classes and their results!
Rosemary, thank you very much for visiting Alausí this year! I learned a great deal from your time here and look forward to your next visit!
Our First Olin MBA Visitor
In addition to hosting Rosemary in August, the Foundation also welcomed its first visitor from the Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri (WashU). Trip is a business school classmate of mine, and it was great to be able to show him the wonder of Alausí in person! Last summer, Trip happened to visit a different area of Ecuador and is the type of traveler that the Foundation wants to market Alausí to in the future. In addition, he has experience in global business consulting.
As part of Trip’s time in Alausí, he was asked to provide honest feedback of what the town has to offer from a tourist’s perspective. To accomplish this, he stayed in various hotels, dined at various restaurants, and experienced many tourist excursions. For the excursions, he visited the Nariz del Diablo (the current largest tourist attraction in Alausí), hiked the Danas Mountain (my family’s mountain), went on a city tour of Alausí, rode a horse near the Lagunas de Ozogoche (beautiful lakes located about an hour outside of Alausí), and experienced the Chimborazo (a volcano located about one and half hours outside of Alausí).
Trip’s visit to Alausí confirmed for us that while the town currently has the potential to offer much to tourists, more must be done to capture that tourist traffic. If we can accomplish this, it will provide many opportunities for economic growth which will greatly benefit what is still a largely impoverished region.
Trip, thank you very much for visiting Alausí! The Maria Lida Foundation is grateful for your insight and we hope to see you back in the area soon!
New University Partnership
The Foundation is very excited to announce that in August we were able to secure a new partnership with Olin Business School’s Center for Experiential Learning (“CEL”) at WashU! The CEL is a program within WashU’s Olin Business School that focuses on providing students with business and nonprofit consulting experiences, and clients with valuable insights and recommendations for their organizations. As part of this partnership with Olin’s CEL, WashU business school students will work on a consulting project for the Foundation. In addition, the student consultants will travel to Alausí during the midpoint of the project to meet and work with us on the ground.
As a former WashU MBA student (and CEL student consultant), I have experienced first-hand how valuable CEL consulting projects are for students and clients. In addition, I know the caliber of WashU business school students and have no doubt that they will help the Maria Lida Foundation develop and deliver meaningful impact to the people of Alausí!
To the Director of Olin’s CEL, thank you very much for helping to create this partnership -- as a former CEL student consultant, I am thrilled to now be working with you as a client!
To the WashU Olin Business School students, we look forward to working with you and know that you will help the Foundation tackle important business issues!
How to Support and Stay Connected
Please remember that we continue to need your financial support.
If you would like to make a monetary donation to the Maria Lida Foundation, you may do so online at https://www.marialidafoundation.org/collections/contribute.
There are many ways to stay connected with the Maria Lida Foundation online:
Instagram: @marialidafoundation or https://www.instagram.com/marialidafoundation/
As always, thank you all very much for your interest and support of the Maria Lida Foundation! I am very blessed to have you all in my life and look forward to reporting the organization’s progress next month!