© 2013 Sarah White


The past 5 days have been a whirlwind. I am amazed at how much I have learned having only been in the country for such a short period of time. As our projects progress, I can’t help but reflect on what an amazing experience this is turning out to be. One of the many aspects that I have found valuable so far is the diversity of our group in terms of area of study. As an IPS student, I have obviously spent much of my time so far at MIIS with other IPS students so it has been quite interesting to be working with fellow MIIS students that have very different academic focuses and expertise.

My team, for example, has an IPS student, an IEP student, a dual IEP-MBA student, and a dual T&I-IPS student. The project we are working on is a comprehensive evaluation of Asociación Mangle’s microcredit program in the shrimp farming sector. We will be looking at a series of shrimp farm cooperatives that have both very successful production results as well as loan repayment rates. Our objectives are to conduct a comprehensive analysis of these cooperatives to provide a model for success for less successful shrimp cooperatives as well as an evaluation framework for the future. What I think makes our project so compelling however, is that we are considering the success of the microcredit program from a number of perspectives that incorporate our specialized interests and expertise. These perspectives are: shrimp sector production, administrative management of the microcredit program, community development, sustainability of the microcredit program, and environmental sustainability of production. By conducting our evaluation in this manner, we hope that we can provide a more complete evaluation and framework. In the past few days we have been both helping and challenging each other to think outside of our own realms. Thinking toward to future, I cannot help but think about how useful this type of collaborative experience will be when we enter our fields.
More to come!

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