Center for Social Entrepreneurship

at Middlebury

Sword and Plough

For three weeks I lived in an oasis of inspiration and guided
direction alongside 18 other budding social entrepreneurs (from 14
different countries) and leading mentors in the field. The lab was
split into three segments focusing on self-reflection & team dynamics,
design thinking, and business & financial strategies. The best part of
the program by far were the friendships that I made with the other
fellows and lab directors. Each person brought an undying passion for
his or her project, as well an eagerness to share with and learn from
each other. While I learned the most from casual conversations with my
peers over breakfast or down time, I also learned a great deal from
the mentors that the lab brought in to speak with us daily. For
example, over the course of one day, I had breakfast with David
Bornstein (Author of “How to Change the World”), lunch with Doug Rauch
(former president of Trader Joe’s), dinner with Iqbal Quadir (founder
of Grameenphone), and spent the evening singing with everyone in the
house to music led by Gemma Bulos (Director of the Global Women’s
Water Initiative). Three of those people are now on Sword & Plough’s
board of advisors. Dell made it easy for us to quickly initiate
meaningful conversations with these leaders by inviting them to share
meals with us, or even stay at the house and live alongside us for a
week or more. The Dell Social Innovation Lab actually felt strikingly
similar to the sense of community and energy that I experienced at
Middlebury. Everywhere I turned, there was a moving conversation to be
had and a new lesson to be learned and applied to Sword & Plough. I
highly recommend the Dell Social Innovation Lab to any Middlebury
student who has a powerful idea for positive social change and wants
to spend a summer devoted to its progress in an incredibly creative
and supportive environment.
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