All that sounds really good, but honestly, it pales in comparison to the self-confidence the students gain during the year. Personally, my biggest struggle is hearing students say “no puedo” — I can't— and I hear it all the time. In the second semester of fourth year, the first semester of Emprendedurismo, we spend a lot of time identifying the characteristics of an entrepreneur, a leader, and of each student. Often, the first time we ask, “Which of the characteristics we just identified do you share with leaders/entrepreneurs?” we get silence and blank papers (And the second time, the third...). To see groups of students go from staring at their desks to avoid having to answer a question, to standing in front of three distinguished judges in Managua, a city many of them have never even visited, and answering questions on the fly about a product that is their own is a great feeling:
Judge: So be honest, and this is an important question, did you come up with this product and this process? Or did you see it somewhere else?
Student: Well, we took the idea from instant potatoes. Our region produces a lot of beans, and people really like “frijoles molidos” but they take awhile to make, so we applied a similar process in order to make an instant product that met the needs and tastes of our community.
Do they all get there? No, of course not. But hopefully they all learn something.