Students exposed to MEDA’s global work
Lessons on community, business and leadership merged this year during the annual Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) conference in Vancouver, Canada. During the conference, seven Bluffton University students, including Wyatt Baer, a senior accounting major from Marshallville, Ohio, learned how business majors can leverage their strengths to improve society. The students were also able to network with business professionals and community leaders also in attendance.
Baer appreciated learning about how entrepreneurship and business solutions can allow people to thrive despite difficult circumstances.
“My biggest takeaway from the MEDA conference was hearing from one of the speakers, Tareq Hadhad, a Syrian refugee that had started a chocolate factory in Canada,” said Baer. “The theme of the convention was ‘Business as a Calling: Building Bridges to Enduring Livelihoods,’ and he was a great example of that.” Hadhad is the founder of Peace by Chocolate.
MEDA is an organization that aims to create business solutions to poverty and to generate economic growth for small businesses. It is comprised of members from the United States and Canada. A different location and theme is highlighted for each conference.
Dr. George Lehman, professor of business, led the group of Bluffton students during their travels. Lehman who attends the MEDA conferences regularly believes it is beneficial for Bluffton students to take part in these experiences.
“Attending the MEDA conference helps students to see that business leadership is about more than personal accomplishment. It is about creating workplaces in which employees and communities thrive because of the opportunities that are being created. This is important both locally and on a global scale.”
Lehman says the theme “Business as a Calling,” underscores the point that as Christians we can be “called” to business in much the same way that ministers are called to their vocation. “I think the MEDA convention experience helps students see this ‘calling’ idea clearly because of the many positive role models they encounter both in formal presentations and in informal conversations,” said Lehman.
Tessa Short, a senior marketing major from Middlebury, Ind., appreciated the networking aspect of the conference.
“I have heard from professors on what they recommend I should do after graduation, but it was really cool to see real-world professionals – people I didn’t know – share their personal experiences and advice,” explained Short.
Also attending the conference from Bluffton University were Ezra Amstutz, a junior from Goshen, Ind.; Brittany Good, a senior from Bluffton, Ohio; Daniel Gregg, a junior from Ontario, Ohio; Michael Lehman, a senior from West Liberty, Ohio; and Adel Sommers, a sophomore from Lima, Ohio.
- Jena O’Brien, public relations student assistant