Catawba Student Shares Experiences from Cambodia
December 15, 2016
Catawba senior Shannon Morton of Millington, Md. is a double major in Economics & Finance and Accounting. An honors student, she is working on a thesis on microfinance and economic development with Dr. Eric Hake, professor of economics and chair of the Department of Business, serving as the chair for her thesis committee, along with Drs. Norris Feeney (professor of politics) and Buster Smith (professor of sociology). In the summer, Shannon mentioned to Dr. Hake that she wanted to pursue international travel associated with her honors thesis in order to do research. She researched, found, and applied for a program entitled UBELONG on her own. The Ketner School of Business and Honors program provided her with some financial support and her international experience in Cambodia began on December 4 and will continue through January 14.
In the summer, Shannon mentioned to Dr. Hake that she wanted to pursue international travel associated with her honors thesis in order to do research. She researched, found, and applied for a program entitled UBELONG on her own. The Ketner School of Business and Honors program provided her with some financial support and her international experience in Cambodia began on December 4 and will continue through January 14.
Importantly, she has been assigned a specific company, a microfinance bank in Cambodia and in the non-governmental organization sector, and will be working with them to develop their business plan and to reform their accounting system. Here is a link to that company’s rudimentary website: www.fldcompany.com/wordpress
And here’s how Shannon describes, in her own words, just how she landed the international experience with which she is now involved:
“Volunteering abroad is something I have always been interested in and I began researching organizations last spring.
“The main draw of UBELONG was that it offered a program where I thought I would actually be able to contribute something and apply my education and experience- business development. The focus on microfinance was a perfect fit to supplement my research for my honors thesis.
“I selected the topic of microfinance for my thesis based on my interest in economic development. Microfinance is a growing, and increasingly controversial, tool for economic development in developing countries.
“I will be in Cambodia for six weeks, from December 4th to January 14th, staying in a volunteer house in the capital, Phnom Penh. I have never been to Asia before and this will be my first time flying by myself, but I have taken two trips to Europe, one of which was through an honors class at Catawba College.
“Here is a description of the program:
Volunteers generally work five to seven hours a day assisting a local community organization as an internal consultant. Volunteers edit and write reports, provide workshops to the local staff and/or work with entrepreneurs on growing their business. The businesses range widely from food stalls to textile shops. Depending on local need, volunteers partake in multiple facets of the income generation process, including evaluating loan applications, monitoring projects and overseeing repayment. Volunteers may also help implement community workshops going over topics like opening up a savings account and running a small business. Volunteers are also often involved on operational duties, including marketing, translating into English, and grant proposal writing. Moreover, some of the organizations have community schools and, if needed, volunteers can also teach English there a few hours a week.”
More information can be found on the UBELONG website: https://ubelong.org/volunteer-abroad/phnom-penh-cambodia/
Read Shannon’s first blog installment about her experience below: