Discover Your Agency for Social Change with Teresa Chahine

February 23, 2023 | | 0 Comments



Teresa Chahine

Dr. Teresa Chahine is a social entrepreneurship expert and professor at Yale University. During this episode, Dr. Chahine shares her journey into social entrepreneurship and the work she’s been doing with students over the years. She emphasizes the importance of understanding the root causes of social and environmental challenges and talking to those affected by them. Dr. Chahine believes that social entrepreneurship is a tool that can be used to activate people’s sense of agency and challenge the status quo, a critical step toward creating social change.

Dr. Chahine’s journey into social entrepreneurship began in her home country of Lebanon where she worked on a project with the United Nations Population Fund. Despite working in the social sector, she felt that her work wasn’t impactful enough. It wasn’t until she started reading books on social entrepreneurship that she realized there was a different way of doing things. She learned that some of the old ways of doing things were not as effective as they could be and that new ideas were needed.

Dr. Chahine’s course on social entrepreneurship is designed to help aspiring social entrepreneurs develop potential solutions, build a business model, and measure outcomes to further that impact. The course is a practical skill-based way for students to learn about social entrepreneurship. It helps students choose a topic, research it, and understand the root causes of the problem. Students then spend time talking to those affected by the problem and those working on it. They generate ideas and screen them for desirability, feasibility, viability, and potential for social change.

Dr. Chahine’s new book, “Social Entrepreneurship Building Impact Step by Step,” is a framework for budding social entrepreneurs to develop potential solutions, build a business model, and measure outcomes to further impact. The book inspired her to create a free online course on Coursera, which is set to release in the next few months. The course will be available to anyone with an internet connection and will be a safe space for students to learn about social entrepreneurship and how to activate their sense of agency.

Dr. Chahine believes that social entrepreneurship is a tool that can be used to activate people’s sense of agency and challenge the status quo. She emphasizes the importance of understanding the root causes of social and environmental challenges and talking to those affected by them. Her work with students has shown her that most people, whether they are generational refugees or Ivy League MBAs, want to contribute to social change, but they don’t realize their own sense of agency. Dr. Chahine believes that by learning about and practicing social entrepreneurship, people can figure out their own unique pathway to contributing to social change.

In conclusion, Dr. Chahine’s work on social entrepreneurship is inspiring and impactful. She’s helping students understand the importance of activating their sense of agency and challenging the status quo. Her course and book are practical tools that can help aspiring social entrepreneurs develop potential solutions, build a business model, and measure outcomes to further impact. She’s making social entrepreneurship accessible to everyone and creating a world where more people can contribute to social change.

For Further Reading and Resources:

Books mentioned:

  • The End of Poverty by Jeffrey Sachs
  • Creating a World Without Poverty by Creating a World Without Poverty by Muhammad Yunus
  • Blue Sweater by Jacqueline Novogratz
Read Full Transcript

[00:00:11] Adam: Welcome to People Hopping People, the podcast for social entrepreneurs who want to build a social impact business and increase their sustainability footprint. I'm your host Adam Morris, and I'm so excited to speak with our guest, Dr. Teresa Chahine, who started the inaugural Sheila and Ron ’92 B.A. Marcelo, lecture and social entrepreneurship at Yale University, which I know is a mouthful, but she does great work. And in addition to working with students for the last four years, she has published widely on financing, measuring and scaling social impact. She just released her new book, Social Entrepreneurship Building Impact Step by Step. It's a book to help budding social entrepreneurs develop potential solutions, build a business model, measure outcomes, that further impact.

So let's dive in. Teresa welcome on the podcast.

[00:00:57] Teressa: Thank you so much for having me. It was really such a treat to learn about your work and I'm so glad we connected

[00:01:04] Adam: Yeah, me too, I'd love to start and, and just hear a little bit about your journey into social entrepreneurship, when did you first get involved in impact work?

[00:01:13] Teressa: It's funny that you ask that because impact work could mean anything, and my career has always been in the social sector. So my first job was in the Ministry of Social Affairs in Lebanon, where I come from working on a project with the UN F P A, the United Nations Population Fund. So I come from the traditional social sector, right, where things are a little more bureaucratic, but it is all about social service and making a difference. So I don't know if you would consider that an impact career. Um, but then I went back to school to do a doctorate in public health. And I studied the social and environmental drivers of health. I always assumed that when I finished I would go back and have a pretty similar job.

But, you know, I'd be like a regional director or something fancy cuz I had a doctoral level education and. It was really in my last year of my doctoral studies that I realized that I needed a new plan because when I went back to talk to my former, partners and employers, they, they said, oh, we'd love to have you back.

And they started describing the work to me that I would be doing. Like, we're gonna send you to the Palestinian refugee camps to build community and peace. I was like, what? Like you're gonna send someone who just spent the past five years at an Ivy League University in the US to build peace and community in a refugee camp like that.

So does not make sense. Only people living in a refugee camp can build peace and community in a refugee camp. Like why aren't you investing in community leaders and supporting them and asking them how do they build peace and community? It just reminded me of everything that I had felt can be wrong about those types of jobs and career.

I'm not saying everything related to government and UN is not impactful. I'm just saying that in my first job, I spent 90% of my time writing reports about what I was gonna do or what I just finished doing, or finding consultants to actually do the work and like 10% of the time doing the work. And we spent millions of dollars and I didn't really see the.

So to answer your first question, maybe even though I was in the social sector, I wasn't really doing the most impactful work, and that's when I started questioning whether I wanna go back to do that work or if I can find something different. So I started reading books that had been recently published at the time, like The End of Poverty by Jeffrey Sachs, Creating a World Without Poverty by Muhammad Yunus, and a Blue Sweater by Jacqueline Novogratz. and I started realizing that some of these old ways of doing things were not as effective as we wished that they could be. And I started getting new ideas like, the end of poverty by Jeffrey Sachs talks a lot about what's broken in the World Bank and the UN system.

And I started thinking like, what if instead of governments giving money to governments, citizens could give money to citizens to support specific projects? Like I was really devastated about cement quarries in Lebanon where they would dig up the mountain and just completely destroy it. And I was like, what if I start a project in Lebanon and then I post it on a website and people around the world pitch in to support me?

And so the day after I defended my dissertation, I went to the Global Health Innovation Conference at Yale. It was the first time I had been there and it pitched this idea, I called it the Citizens Environmental Restoration Bank instead of World Bank. Get it? And the feedback I got was, uh, yeah, this is a thing.

It's already being done, and it's called social entrepreneurship. Like you're not the first person that thought of this. And people gave me lots of examples of different websites for crowdfunding and for posting projects and for doing things differently. So I was like, okay, that's my new plan. I'm gonna work in social entrepreneurship.

And ever since then, I tried to carve out a new path for myself because, Didn't know what job I could have if I went back to Lebanon after my studies. And I felt like no job was a good fit. So I had to build my own niche. And that's how I got started.

[00:05:15] Adam: And then if we fast forward, you've been teaching at Yale for four years?

[00:05:20] Teressa: Yes. So going back to, to the time after I finished my doctorate, when I found a way to go back to Lebanon, I connected at the time with an organization called El Fanār, which means Lighthouse in Arabic. They had been founded out of London to serve the entire Arab region, but had only been working in Egypt up till then.

So I had the opportunity of launching El Fanār Lebanon and building a strategy to support social enterprises serving marginalized populations, through education and job creation for youth and women. So it was really exciting work. And at the same time I was kind of frustrated that I was figuring out as I went along, I had no training in this and, it was a thing, as I had been told, like social entrepreneurship is a thing. So why had I spent five years at Harvard? I never heard the word social entrepreneurship until I went and pitched my ideas at an innovation conference. So I went back to my alma mater and I said, this is ridiculous, this is a school of public health.

It's full of people who have dedicated their lives to public service. So why, why aren't we being taught about social entrepreneurship? It's like we're being trained in becoming experts in the problems, but not in formulating and applying solutions. And so I got the feedback that, yeah, you're right. Actually, we do need this in the curriculum, so come and teach it.

So while I was living in Lebanon, I started flying back to Boston once a year to teach the first social entrepreneurship course in the public health school. And then El Fanār was growing in Lebanon and my academic work was growing. I wrote a textbook for my course, "Introduction to Social Entrepreneurship". And then a colleague asked me to help him start a second course, and then they were both just snowballing and I knew I couldn't do both and I had to pick, and I figured I wanna be part of the global conversation and I can continue to do grassroots work, but, um, having an academic platform might be a larger platform that would give me more freedom and flexibility than running a grassroots organization in Lebanon.

I don't need to run the day-to-day operations forever. So in, so I handed over to a new country director and I started applying for academic jobs. And at the time, Yale received the philanthropic gift to create this new faculty position in social entrepreneurship. And that's how I ended up there.

I, I basically had been looking for someone to say, like a new home where someone would say, we value what you're doing, come do it here. And that's what Yale did. So now I'm based at the School of management and I teach people from around the campus, including management, public health, undergrad environment, divinity, even art and architecture and music.

So I get students from across campus and I love that about Yale. It's small and so it's very collaborative.

[00:08:11] Adam: What's the experience of students like that come through the course?

[00:08:15] Teressa: A lot of them have worked in global health NGOs and nonprofits and Peace Corps and things like that. So they're very idealistic, very anticapitalistic, which is surprising, like this is an MBA program, uh, but they really challenge every single thing that I say and do, and they really challenge the status quo, which I love because that is the start of social entrepreneurship when you challenge the status quo, and they do believe that there can be a different way of doing things, whether business or nonprofit, to be more effective. So they have a lot of potential and a lot of strengths. And one thing that I noticed, however, when working with them is that a lot of MBA students kind of have this feeling that they wanna have an impact career.

They're already on this path that someone else carved out for them. Like, oh yeah, I work, I wish I could work in social impact, but I'm kind of expected to go work in a hedge fund or something like that.

Another part is just like people's, people's expectations of them.

Like they've been groomed for something. And their heart is somewhere else. And I, I tell them like, seriously, if a Yale MBA student does not have agency to determine their own future, then who the heck does have agency? Like, come on, it's okay to work a job to pay off your loans. I'm not against that, but like, if your heart is in having in a social impact career, don't sit here and tell me that you're on a path that someone else carved out for you. You're not allowed to say that you are on one end of the power and privileged spectrum. That's like the opposite of the refugees I worked with in Lebanon, who I understand if they don't realize their sense of agency.

But for you to not realize your sense of agency is surprising. And so one thing that I noticed that was not a learning I had expected to learn at Yale, is that most people, whether they are generational refugees or Ivy League MBAs, want to change the world somehow or want to contribute to change, but they don't realize their own sense of agency.

And when I use the word agency, just to clarify, for those listeners who don't know what I mean, it just means basically realizing that you can make decisions that will change your life and others' lives. People always used to toss that word around when I was in grad school and they didn't know what the heck they were talking about.

[00:10:44] Adam: This is a, a very important concept because, you know, our, our ability to realize what power we have as individuals, whether we are students at Yale or you know, refugees living in a camp, like whatever spectrum we're on, that there is some capability for us to create change in that situation.

[00:11:05] Teressa: Yeah, and I never thought about this much. I mean, when I lived in Lebanon, I realized that most Lebanese people, felt helpless and hopeless because it's just such a messed up situation for geopolitical reasons. But I didn't realize until I got to Yale that actually most people in the world feel helpless and hopeless.

And that practicing and learning about social entrepreneurship helps activate their sense of agency, and that's really important because everyone wants to make some kind of contribution and they don't know what it is. I'm not saying everyone needs to be an entrepreneur or start something new, but I'm saying that learning about and practicing social entrepreneurship can help you figure out what your own unique path will be to contributing to social change in your own way.

And it could be something small, it could be something big, it could be starting something new, or it could be just taking that job, but continuing to question the status quo and to find new ways of doing. That will produce more positive social and environmental outputs.

[00:12:10] Adam: So question, when students go through the course, how are they transformed? Like how are they different at the end?

[00:12:18] Teressa: They're transformed in a couple of different ways. The first is that kind of, less tangible way of recognizing the sales sense of agency and being activated as agents of change. The second is a more practical skill-based way in that they actually now have practice in social entrepreneurship.

And I'll explain for a few minutes what that looks like. So basically the process they go through is that they choose a topic, some social or environmental challenge that they care about, and then they spend a lot of time researching that topic, understanding the root causes of that problem, who's affected by it, who has tried working on it before, what has worked and what hasn't, et cetera.

Because obviously they're not the first person to care about this topic and wanna do something about it. So it's important to start by understanding the challenge, and then I actually get them to go out and talk to people. So it can't be this hypothetical Ivy Tower experience, like you actually have to go talk to people affected by this problem and people working on it and that, so that it's not just desk research and then like a month into the course, they're allowed to start talking about ideas and solutions. So I tell them the first four weeks, like, do not talk to me about your ideas. Only talk to me about the problem.

We're here to understand the problem. Then in week four, we finally do a design thinking ideation workshop where they can start generating ideas and screening through ideas. For desirability, feasibility, viability, and the potential for social change. And they pick one or more ideas to prototype and test.

And what that means for those listeners who don't know is that if you have an idea for something, you have to be able to find a way to share that idea with others. It could even be just by describing it or sketching it out or doing like a mockup or, or you know, like website landing. Or if it's an app, you could like draw the user interface or something.

Just a way of testing it with potential users or funders or anyone you can talk to to get feedback on it. And then that idea never ends up being what you're actually gonna implement. It always evolves a lot. So that's what we mean by iterate. Like, you have this great idea, you think it's amazing, then you go talk to people, then you realize what needs to change about it, what might work, et cetera.

And so it just keeps evolving over time. . And then as it's evolving, I start asking them to think about what would success look like and how would they measure that and how would they achieve financial viability? And that includes the revenue model. Who's paying for this? Sometimes it's the same people using it, sometimes it's others.

The delivery model, how are you getting it to those people? Um, operational efficiencies, like how will you lower costs, et cetera. and then funding. Who's gonna finance this? Is it gonna be grant-based or venture backed or crowdfunding? . And finally, how will you communicate it and how will you expand by partnering with others?

So we start by talking to people and understanding who the stakeholders are and how you think in systems, like whatever problem that you are tackling is part of a system that has many existing stakeholders and anything you do will affect and be affected by the way those stakeholders work together. So how can you think about your idea in that context?

And we circle back to that at the very end. Like, how can you expand beyond your own idea? How can your idea be one contribution to larger collective action and change? And how can you use your work as a platform to advocate for policy, and new laws and to just have an impact that's bigger than yourself?

So I encourage students to think beyond one company at a time or beyond one organization at a time. And we jokingly refer to this as extrapreneurship. So most people are familiar with the word entrepreneurship, which means starting something new. And again, I don't think everyone needs to start something new.

And most people are familiar with the word intrapreneurship, which means like you get a job and then you innovate within that job and create new projects and ventures. And then the word extrapreneurship is not, I don't even know if it's a real word or not, but we use it to mean like innovating across the boundaries of multiple institutions.

And there's so many examples of that, like collective impact initiatives, public private partnerships, distributed entities, so many different ways, it's more than collaboration. Well, collaboration is part of it, but it can be more than that. And so students go through all these stages in the course, and so when they leave the course, they have experience in how they would go about organizing information about the topic they care about and designing and offering that they can contribute.

So when they go off into the world, they have these skills and they have this practice. And when they wanna try to do something in the future, they can go back to this framework and just apply it again. And I always tell students, this is a safe space for you to fail. Entrepreneurship is about failure.

Most new ideas will fail and one in 10 or less will succeed. And. now if you fail, you have one failure under your belt, you're one step closer to success . So people are always asking you like, how many new ventures spin out of your course? And I'm like, that is not the success. That is not what success looks like to me.

Success looks like people practicing, just how to challenge the status quo, how to learn about social problems and design an offering that they might be able to contribute and just have this mindset and skillset of being agents of change. That is what success looks like. And then they can go out there and get jobs and join the world, but they will try to find ways of doing things differently.

[00:18:12] Adam: So, Going back to the sense of agency, developing that so that whatever situation people are in, they realize, yes, you know, here are the tools to connect with people, validate my ideas.

[00:18:24] Teressa: yeah, and, and I never, ever, ever thought about it this way, Adam, but for some reason I had this epiphany when I was talking to these MBA students like, what? Come on, you even, you don't realize your sense of agency. And so I realized that social entrepreneurship, if nothing else, It's power is that it activates people's sense of agency.

And um, I had just finished filming a new online course through coursera.org. I don't know what it's gonna be called yet, but that's the message I say in this course. Like, this course is free. It's out there for anyone anywhere in the world who has internet to do it. And it's just about activating your sense of agency and taking the first steps to figure out your own unique pathway to contributing to social change, and that's the power of learning about and practicing social entrepreneurship. I think it's not about starting something new, it's just about getting rid of that feeling of helplessness and hopelessness.

[00:19:23] Adam: Now in addition to this course, you've also just released a new book.

[00:19:28] Teressa: Well, the book is what prompted the course. So this is the second edition of the textbook I mentioned I wrote many years ago, which was called Introduction to Social Entrepreneurship, and the second edition is called Social Entrepreneurship Building Impact Step by Step. So it kind of refers to that framework I just described, and when I finished it a year ago, I was feeling so guilty and called out like I'm such a hypocrite. I'm not walking the walk. Like I just signed this contract with an academic publisher who's selling my book for a ridiculous amount of money, which by the way, I only see a super small part of, so it's like a lose lose situation and it, I'm not making this knowledge accessible. So how is it gonna change the status quo if only people who can afford it will buy the book.

I want everyone to access this information. And so I applied to coursera.org through Yale. Yale has a partnership with coursera, which is a website that has free online courses, and, Coursera has an interesting business model where anyone can take the course for free. If they want a certificate. If their company for or themself is willing to pay for certificate, they pay $50.

And so it does have some revenue generating component, but it's free for anyone who wants it, and so that. , you don't have to buy the book if you don't want to. You can just watch all these free videos where I literally describe and discuss the content and then if you want, and if you can afford to buy the book to accompany on that journey, great.

And if you can't, no problem. I think most people enjoy videos more than textbooks, so I'm really excited about that course and it's gonna come out. in the next few months, at some point in 2023.

It's in post-production now, so I'm super excited about it.

[00:21:09] Adam: Well, we'll keep the show notes up to date when that comes

[00:21:11] Teressa: Thank you.

[00:21:12] Adam: question for you personally, um, after working on this course and, and your book and the Coursera, how has that changed you?

[00:21:20] Teressa: How has it changed me? It's interesting. I think it has changed me in two ways, which are pretty correlated. The first one is that has made me more calm. I don't know why. And the second is that it has made me less ambitious, which doesn't sound like it's a positive thing, but I'm gonna try to help you understand why I'm not necessarily saying this as a negative thing.

It's just that I think that 10 years ago, or 15 years ago when I was finishing my doctoral studies , I kind of felt this burden and this personal pressure and restlessness, like the weight of the world was on my shoulders and I had to find a solution and I had to figure it out and I had to create change. And the more I learned about how change actually happens, which is through collective action, the more I realized that A, I actually feel more hopeful because there are so many people out there to join forces with, and there are so.

ways of organizing social change, and a lot of those are just like really traditional classical forms of social change. It doesn't have to be entrepreneurial, and B, it's like it's not all on me . Like it's not up to me to find some crazy new solution that's gonna make a huge difference. It's like I'm gonna contribute in a small way to nudge forward social progress, and every single human can really do only that.

There's this. Misconception that entrepreneurs find genius solutions and disrupt the world. And, and in some cases it might be true, but I think in most cases it's up to humanity collectively to nudge forward human progress. And I used to. Be super existential, I guess I still am, but I used to, when I was younger, trying to figure out the meaning of life and what is the purpose of me being here?

What is this like huge thing I need to find and discover and create to make my life worth it? And I realize as I get older that there there's no like secret or hidden meaning to life that you have to figure out. Life is the meaning. Life is the purpose. You're just here to live, and to do it as gracefully as you can, as your life unfolds and to survive what comes at you and to find some small or big way of making others lives better and of taking care of the planet and yourself and others.

And so it's kind of like in design thinking when they tell you, you just have to sense. You have to do this sensing stage where you see how others are impacted by things. It's like just keep your senses open, keep your heart open and your mind open and just play your part and play whatever role you have the opportunity to play and always look out for opportunities for how you can make it better.

And what I'm describing is not social entrepreneurship. It. Life 1 0 1 the way the ancients used to describe it, I'm just saying that social entrepreneurship is a pathway to practice those things, and it's, um, the framework in the book and the online course is like the specific framework to practice, the mindset and skillset of getting involved and it can look like a bunch of different things, but the way it has changed me personally over the years is to kind of calm down and dial back and realize that I don't need to solve the world's problems.

That's not what's so being social entrepreneurs about, it's just about like being systematic in your questioning and understanding and design of what we need to change about the world and how we're gonna. That was a much more philosophical answer than you were looking for probably. But today I was like thinking about all these life questions and I was like, oh, maybe I'll discuss it with Adam later.

[00:25:17] Adam: That's great.

[00:25:18] Teressa: is what I'm gonna say.

[00:25:20] Adam: You know, I think it's all interconnected. One thing that I love that you said about that is that sometimes we feel this weight on our shoulder and, you know, we read the news and it's horrible and we feel like, oh my gosh, I need to do something really big in order to change the world, and yet what you laid out in your course was like, Hey, no, actually, don't start with the idea. Start by connecting with people, talking, understanding what the problem is. Um, and that's something that's very easy to do because there's no pressure there. You're just investigating and, and connecting with people.

[00:25:53] Teressa: Exactly. You don't have to keep scratching your head until you come up with an amazing idea. Just get involved with something, anything. Just get out there and connect with people.

You said it

[00:26:01] Adam: Even when you have an idea, what, what I heard was like, Hey, you're gonna apply these design thinking methodologies where it's not about having a great idea. You're gonna put something together, test it, and you're gonna get feedback from people. Right? So it's more of a process of, building something in conjunction with the community that you're.

[00:26:20] Teressa: Exactly. And what I was saying earlier about like the lower level of, pressure actually is a positive thing because it lowers the barrier to entry. It lowers the activation energy, like you don't have to wait until you have an amazing idea. Just get out there and be a good human and be resourceful and be entrepreneurial and connect with others and see how you can find different ways of doing things and support people who are doing good.

So we talk a lot about lived experience leaders, like if you wanna tackle a social challenge, find people who are experiencing that challenge. Find leaders who are trying to promote different ways of doing things and support them. Get involved. You don't have to find the answer yourself and try to work with things that you either have firsthand experience with, or if you don't, then find those who do and support them.

So those are my tips for people who want to get.

Actually, I'm in, uh, Jakarta right now in Indonesia as a Fulbright specialist helping to develop, um, social entrepreneurship curriculum for a school of management here. And I had the opportunity to meet a social entrepreneur who created a social enterprise, uh, that has the mission of preserving, in the indigenous heritage of Indonesia through plants and food, like there's so many different food, and plant strains that have been lost, like different types of rice and herbs and spices and plants, and so many things that Indonesians have used for food the years and their ancestors even pre Indonesia, and they're being lost over time. So she goes out to all these islands cuz Indonesia is composed of thousands of islands and she talks to indigenous people about how they interact with nature. And she tries to find ways to help them do this for a living and to be able to continue earning a dignified living without losing their heritage and their connection with nature and without losing these plants that are just becoming extinct.

And so she told me, that when she goes out there, it's so important to not have an agenda. She said, the people where I'm going to visit in these remote areas, They live their life by sensing nature. They just keep their senses open and they try to read nature and sense nature. And humans are part of nature.

So when you go out there, they sense you and they read you. And it's so important to just go with the goal of listening and learning and not have predetermined agenda for them, like if you're gonna exploit them or something like that. Because they'll, they'll catch on right away. And I was like, wow, you just described how to live life.

Like don't have a predetermined agenda. Go with the goal. making things better and listening to people and understanding the struggles and the opportunities, and that's it. Just be open and know that the answer doesn't have to, you don't have to come up with a new answer. It's already out there. You just have to find ways of supporting it, like people are already doing it.

So I thought that was awesome. And I actually told her I'm gonna apply to a National Geographic grant to, um, like if it. these people and she said, yes it will. To go out there and like document and record this because I think it's so awesome.

[00:29:29] Adam: That's so cool. Yeah, no. One thing I found for social entrepreneurs is like sharing their story just helps get more attention so that people can participate wherever they are.

[00:29:39] Teressa: Yeah. One of the social entrepreneurs I worked with in Lebanon, uh, wanted to start a catering company by Palestinian refugees. And, um, , my organization helped seed that and a social justice filmmaker named Tom Morgan found out about it and created a documentary called . , S O U F R A. So if anyone wants to see that, it's such a film.com.

There are many platforms online where you can watch it, like Hulu and things like that. And it was, it made such a huge impact to document their journey. Like at some point the airlines bought it and all these people traveling around the world would send me messages like, oh my God, I just saw you. I'm on a plane, and I saw this documentary, and they had no idea about the struggles of these Palestinian women in Lebanon.

or that, and the women in Lebanon never even knew that all these people cared about them and knew about them. And even just the awareness about their story, I think made a huge difference. Aside from the enterprising of their idea.

[00:30:38] Adam: That's neat. And I, I think that's something so powerful about social entrepreneurship. it creates connections, um, with people in different communities and it gives a vehicle for sharing stories of here's what's happening, but not in a way that's like, oh, this is, you know, just negative news.

It's like, here's some positive change that's happening,

[00:30:58] Teressa: It's all about connecting and, and understanding the commonalities. So I'll include that document. We'll include that documentary in the show notes, film, and I'll also share the information about the Indonesian social enterprise, in addition to the online course.

[00:31:13] Adam: Looking forward over the next five, 10 years, like what do you see changing or what, what trends do you see going on?

[00:31:19] Teressa: I kind of hope that we're gonna humanize the way we interact with each other more, and I have no idea why I'm saying this, because I feel like everywhere I look, people are just attached to their phones and everyone's making new robots and it's becoming less and less human. But what I really hope is that on this note of connecting is that people I think, are hungry for actual human connection. And I hope that this is a trend that we'll be acted on, and that people, that connecting with others and practicing kindness will become a thing again, that is valued and cherished and taught, and it's not these days.

I can't imagine that this is only wishful thinking on my part. Like I do see evidence that this is happening, like empathy is important to educators and employers, and there isn't this new wave of empathy, I think. So I hope that that's a trend and that people start prioritizing and respecting just basic human connection and kindness, and, um, start including it when they evaluate other people and businesses in terms of what success looks like in their careers and in the world.

One organization that I really, look up to is Ashoka, which was founded by Bill Drayton and supports social entrepreneurs. And Bill Drayton has this vision of everybody, a change maker, and he thinks that, framework change for education is that it's no longer about just reading and writing the way it was a hundred years ago, but it's about having empathy, being a change maker, giving yourself permission to see problems and be part of solutions.

And he feels pretty strongly that that vision's gonna come true. And I hope he's right.

[00:32:59] Adam: Yeah. Has an amazing organization for connecting people,

[00:33:03] Teressa: exactly. The godfather of social entrepreneurship.

[00:33:06] Adam: That's wonderful. I feel like we covered so much, you know, finding your, your own way into the social enterprise space, and going over how students, at Yale are, are going through this experience and developing their sense of agency, but also learning how to connect with people and develop an idea.

[00:33:25] Teressa: Yeah, and I think on my travels, I definitely noticed how much people have in common around the world, like whether you're a Yale student or a generational refugee in Lebanon or in part of an indigenous tribe in Indonesia. It reminds me of when I was little and I used to read these books.

The value of, like each book was a different value, like the value of kindness, the value of honesty, et cetera. And I, I really used to love the one about Margaret Mead, and I'm not sure if it was the value of kindness or the value of friendship, but Margaret Mead was an anthropologist who traveled around the world and realized that at their core people are the same, they have the same problems and drives and values.

And so I really think that learning about social entrepreneurship and practicing social entrepreneurship has brought me back to that one of those early lessons from childhood that people around the world are pretty much the same and people are good at their core and that they just need to connect and, and work together to try to create positive change like the way we connected.

I'm so grateful to you for reaching out

[00:34:32] Adam: I love it. So I'm really excited about the work that you're doing and, I'm so glad you get to travel the world and help inspire others.

[00:34:40] Teressa: thank you. I'm so grateful for the opportunity.

[00:34:43] Adam: For those who are listening, thank you, for tuning in and, and listening to this. Check out the show notes for links of how you can find out more. there'll be resources to the documentaries that we spoke about, the book, and the course on Coursera when that comes up.

[00:34:57] Teressa: And I'll share a blog post by Bill Drayton where he talks about this new framework for education and empathy, and everyone, a change maker as well. So we'll give you lots of resources to check out when you're done listening.

[00:35:08] Adam: Well thank you so much.

[00:35:10] Teressa: Thank you, Adam.

Teresa Chahine
Follow People Helping People on WordPress.com

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.