By Alicia Nierenstein | firstname.lastname@example.org
When Flagler College’s Students in Free Enterprise team returned from Germany back in October with a loss in the first round of the World Cup, the team members didn’t keep their heads down. In fact, their spirits were sustained throughout the remainder of their trip because the experience as a whole was too exciting to let pass them by.
Before each competition, there is a cultural fair where each country shares a piece of their culture. The SIFE team was able to embrace other cultures and traditions, such as seeing bracelets brought from Kenya, eating Russian caviar, and having their names painted by representatives from Japan.
SIFE’s president of two years, senior Jessica Welch, felt there was something even more magnificent than all of the cultural items shared.
“People from all of these countries are literally dancing around together, and they’re setting aside their cultural boundaries,” she said.
Perhaps even more special than experiencing all the cultural exposure, SIFE had its own personal cheering section, including coaches Donna DeLorenzo, the Executive Direct of College Relations at Flagler, Barry Sand, a professor of communications, Dr. and Mrs. William T. Abare, as well as several alumni.
The end of their trip to Germany most certainly did not signify the end to their work. As soon as they stepped off of the stage they were already planning new projects to work on, as well as continuing with older ones.
“The goal of SIFE is to keep improving and push ourselves harder,” Welch said.
Currently, there are about 15 projects SIFE is working on.
Suruwat, which is Nepalese for “creating new beginnings,” is an assimilation program involving refugees. Upwards of 300 refugees are brought to Jacksonville and taught how to assimilate and be successful, all while still embracing their culture. They are shown how-to videos, which give them information about jobs, better preparing them for the working world.
Another project is the Winmark Training Video. Winmark is a franchising company that owns five different companies: Play It Again Sports, Plato’s Closet, Once Upon a Child, Music Go Round and Wirth. Last year’s training video, put together by SIFE members, addressed employee and time theft. Currently, SIFE is working on a video about the importance of customer service.
SIFE also teamed with the ARC of St. Johns on the Traveling Lunch Box, a vocational training business that aims to teach the mentally challenged about the restaurant business. The Traveling Lunch Box employees learn how to wash dishes, prepare meals and serve food.
SIFE’s plans for the future include an environmental sustainability project, which the team estimates should last for the next seven years, until the 450th anniversary of St. Augustine.
“We want to make the oldest city in America, the greenest city in America,” Welch said.
Before she became president of SIFE, Welch said she could see rapid change within the team.
“In the last two years people have been more involved, and our numbers have grown,” she said. “We won a national championship, and that’s a big deal. It shows how incredible and dedicated our team members are.”
SIFE is getting for the regional competition in March. If the team succeeds at the regional level, it will move on the national competition in May, and with a win there, Flagler SIFE just might end up overseas again in October for the next SIFE World Cup.