Bartkus, an associate professor of management, likes to remind her students about the importance of commerce in developing relationships and social capital. “Never underestimate the inherent dignity in a good day’s work,” she says.
Entering its second decade, the program has advanced enough to use its own alumni as advisers on many of the projects. Mendoza plans to expand the program next year from 30 to 50 students, which means attracting more corporate and foundation sponsors to pay for these trips to troubled areas. Future expansion aims to double the number of students again. Recent grants from the Kellogg Institute for International Studies and Ford Family Program will fund economic impact studies of some projects.
Two years ago, a Brazilian BOTFL student went to Bolivia and thought the program could help in the Amazon, where his father, Benjamin Sicsu, chaired the board of the Sustainable Amazon Foundation (FAS). Sicsu and its director general, Virgilio Viana, agreed that the Notre Dame team might offer a different perspective and decided to launch a collaboration.