Students from seven different countries converged in Newark at New Community to see firsthand what social entrepreneurship actually looks like when put into practice.
For 19-year-old Boyuan Zhao, touring various New Community programs and seeing the many services offered was enough to change his mind about the key role organizations like NCC can play in tackling large scale social challenges.
“At the beginning, I didn’t believe it was quite necessary,” said Zhao, a native of Qingdao, China, but then added, “I think it is important to give people hope…for a better future.”
Zhao was among more than 120 international students visiting New Community with Fairleigh Dickinson University as part of a cultural exchange program. This year’s theme of the program, called the Emerging Global Leaders Seminar, focused on social entrepreneurship, a buzzword that’s grown popular over many years and describes the process of pursuing innovative solutions to address social problems.
Aboard three buses led by NCC tour guides, the international students visited four NCC sites—Community Hills Early Learning Center, Automotive Training Center, Family Resource Success Center and Workforce Development Center—to meet staff and get a glimpse of how one of the largest community development corporations in the U.S. serves low income residents using a vast network of services.
At St. Joseph Plaza, local students participating in NCC Youth Services Summer Employment and Enrichment Program gave presentations on the organization’s history and mission. NCC CEO Richard Rohrman and Monsignor William J. Linder, the founder, also addressed students.
After observing the automotive students in training at the shop, Nahyeon “Anna” An, 21, said she realized that New Community has established a sustainable model.
Being successful and “doing good…is the same thing” for NCC, she said. During lunch, An, a native of Seoul, South Korea, sat next to 15-year-old Mahogany Taylor of Newark and the two spoke about growing up in their respective cities located nearly 7,000 miles apart. With the comforts of food, the young women chatted like old friends over a meal of fried chicken, collard greens, macaroni and cheese and rice and beans.
The students who participated in FDU’s Emerging Global Leaders Seminar represented countries including Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Germany, India, Korea and Sri Lanka. The event was co-sponsored by the Friendship Ambassadors Foundation, a group that promotes intercultural exchanges and service projects for youth.
“We really learned a lot,” An said.
Students from both New Community and FDU also spent a day at the United Nations for the Summer Youth Assembly.
Zhao, who said he now lives in Toronto, Canada, said he sees how a community-minded nonprofit like NCC can focus on a mission of improving people’s lives.
“Once you go into (the) profitable, the nature of things gets changed,” he said.