Fairfield University students host sale of handmade Nicaraguan pottery and crafts to help the indigenous artisans of Nicaragua create a self-sustaining business

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Photo Opportunity

When: Wednesday, December 10th, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

What: Students of Fairfield University's Charles F. Dolan School of Business are hosting a sale of authentic handmade pottery and craft goods, made by indigenous Nicaraguan artisans. The event is the culmination of an ongoing student project to increase exposure of these goods, including vases, candlesticks and baskets, in an effort to improve the quality of life for the artisans, with all profits through the supply chain passed back to them. The pottery can also be viewed and purchased online through http://faculty.fairfield.edu/winston/ (click on the image of the urn). A station will be set up at the event to mail order items through Fairfield's partner in this endeavor, Seattle University. Prices start at under $10.

Where: Dolan School of Business, Fairfield University campus

Why: With the charitable mission of the Jesuit University in mind, MBA students have undertaken this project to help increase the sales of the goods being created by a range of Nicaraguan artisans. This project is one facet of a larger effort to create a self-sustaining sales channel for the handmade craft items and artwork that will benefit and stimulate the Nicaraguan community and economy. Nicaragua has many exceptional artisans including potters, sculptors, painters and weavers. However, most of these artisans do not have adequate access to markets to provide a decent living for themselves and their families. The number of tourists who visit Nicaragua is low compared to its neighbors, and Nicaragua has not yet developed its international craft market to the level of other Latin American nations.

Background: The project was conceived when Winston Tellis, Ph. D., professor of Information Systems and Operations Management, went to Nicaragua with students in his International Information Systems class. The purpose of the course was to investigate globalization and its effects. Students applied their classroom learning by creating a model for a self-sustaining business to sell the local artisans handcrafted pottery. Dr. Tellis hopes that a fair trade business will be created to sell the pottery and crafts at Jesuit universities. For additional information on Professor Tellis' vision, visit his website at http://faculty.fairfield.edu/winston/.

In 2004, Fairfield University entered into a five-year collaborative partnership with a sister-Jesuit university, the Universidad Centroamericana (UCA) in Nicaragua. The agreement provides opportunities for scholarly collaborations, service learning opportunities, faculty/student exchanges, curricular projects, and special projects such as this one helping artisans. The partnership gives Fairfield the opportunity to define its mission in Latin and Central America while having its mission at home influenced and defined through the various cooperative activities.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on December 9, 2008

Vol. 41, No. 160

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