School of Science and Engineering students provide microloans around the world

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Huddled around their desks inside a classroom at Townview Center, Mrs. Ping Zhuge’s students are deciding whether to provide a loan so a 21-year-old nursing student in Cambodia can pay his college tuition.

Or, the students’ discuss, maybe they should instead provide a loan to a Kenyan farmer so she can buy the lights and inputs needed to plant six acres? Then again, there is also 24-year-old in the Gaza Strip who is requesting a loan to buy a solar system for heating water for the family house. Maybe they should give a loan to him instead?

The students are able to provide the microloans thanks to Fossil, which gave every student in the classroom a $50 credit. The students then use their $50 to make a loan through Kiva, a nonprofit that lets individuals lend as little as $25 to help create opportunity around the world.

A student and volunteer from Fossil discuss what to finance with their microloan.

A student and volunteer from Fossil discuss what to finance with their microloan.

Frank Geslani, senior copywriter in global communications at Fossil Group, said the activity was a way to broaden the students’ horizons and make a real world difference.

“For many of us, it’s easy just to think about our own lives and the people around us in our own communities,” Geslani said. “Coordinating it so students could give loans through Kiva is a way to show them how they can make an impact in peoples’ lives around the world.”

The Dallas Teacher Residency, which helps recruit, prepare, develop and support teachers, arranged for volunteers from Fossil to appear at Townview. The Dallas Teacher Residency is a grant recipient of the Fossil Foundation and has placed multiple teachers, including Mrs. Zhuge, in Dallas ISD schools.

As for whether to provide the loan to the nursing student, Kenyan farmer or Garza Strip resident in need of hot water, the students eventually settled on an answer: split up their money so they could donate to all three.

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