Campus - 20.06.2017 - 00:00 

SIM students carry out social project

Within the scope of a mandatory course, 55 students of the Masters in Strategy und International Management (SIM) course once again carried out eight social projects this year, which were located all over the world. A article by student reporter Ann-Sophie Kowalewski.

21 June 2017. The "SIMagination Challenge" is a mandatory course and thus an integral part of the HSG Masters in Strategy and International Management curriculum. The students are expected to plan their own project in a team, carry it out and then reflect on the results. As well as making a contribution to society, the course also focuses on the ongoing individual development of the participants.

In February 2017, Greece, Indonesia, Cambodia, Haiti, Guatemala and Brazil were the destinations of the teams this year. Complex projects were carried out in these countries, which ranged from help for refugees and English tuition to the distribution of water filters and ovens and even the development of regional infrastructures and advice for local managers.

Project for children in Ponta Pora, Brazil

A project of the current SIM generation is "Planting the Future". Carried out in Ponta Pora, a border town between Brazil and Paraguay, the eight-man team focused in particular on children and the socially disadvantaged. Preparations began as early as October, and this involved finding an ideal partner first of all. As with the other projects, collaboration with local organisations and individuals was extremely important, in order to ensure the living situations could be improved in a sustainable manner. The project was also supported by the HSG alumnus Igor Neves and his family, who live in the region.

Specifically, the team of eight students from six different nationalities worked on simplifying the efforts of a social organisation and a Capoeira school. Founder and head of this initiative is the Brazilian police officer José Maria Guedes Jaragua. For more than ten years he has been working on providing the children in the area with a safe retreat in the sports club while teaching them values such as respect, honesty and discipline. It is very important to keep the kids of the streets here, especially due to the significant drug trafficking close to the border. After a long period of planning and permanent contact with him, the team were able to carry out various workshops and consultations with José Maria as well as the entire community. With an initial donation, it was even possible to start the construction of a canteen up to the stage where the local authorities can continue to support and complete the project.

One unforgettable moment for the team was the accidental encounter with the street urchin, Lucas, who had been left behind by his parents when they left the city. Thanks to the help of the Neves family and the efforts of the team, it was possible to find a children’s home for him, where he is now living. He has also been reintegrated into school life.

Practical training

The participants were able to learn a lot of things, which would generally be impossible on campus. In addition to the team work over a period of months, they also, for example, had to come to terms with very different conditions and work methods. The cooperation with people from different cultures and countries was often a significant challenge and demanded a lot of patience, however, the students benefited from a lot of personal contacts and experience. Anna Ignatovica, member of the "Planting the Future" team, looks back on her experience: "It was more than just a project; it was a building of genuine friendships among the team mates and with the stakeholders on site".

The course is to be offered again in the next academic year. Anyone interested in the course can obtain further information on the SIMagination Challenge website or by contacting the respective team members.

Ann-Sophie Kowalewski is in the second semester of the Strategy and International Management (SIM-HSG) course and was also a member of the "Planting the Future" team.

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