Sitting in her office on another Zoom call, the Assistant Director, Corrie Harris, works to motivate team members given the current state of affairs: an ever-changing landscape that greatly affects their ability to collaborate with in-country partners and affiliates. A series of delays, losses, and obstacles have flown in their path, yet they continue to press on.
When the shelter-in-place order was given in March 2020, the team members in the Institute quickly adjusted to remote work. The transition was seamless, as the Institute was already structured to accommodate full-time college students’ schedules by leveraging online project management and communication platforms. When other programs came to a screeching halt, the Institute persevered, taking steps to preserve the connectedness often lost with remote work. Now, given the opening of the SMU campus for the fall semester, they have a consistent system allowing for a hybrid workspace of both remote and in-person collaboration.
The question was asked, “What keeps the team going with all this uncertainty?” Harris responded, “Since I was a little girl, I have always been drawn to helping others. I am not alone. All the student workers, affiliates, and leadership at the Institute have their own version of this statement. It is why we do what we do. It is what keeps us motivated. Now with the consequences of the global pandemic at the forefront, institutes like ours need to be at the ready. Everyone here at the Institute feels it, and we keep pushing to find solutions.”
For the past two years, the Hunt Institute’s Global Development Lab (GDL) has evolved from the pilot stage to a mature program. With over sixty affiliates, an average of twenty to twenty-five student workers, and an extensive network of industry partners, the Institute has become a hub for fostering collaborative, innovative solutions. “There is something inside of us that is hard to explain, something that draws us to make the world a better place beyond what some may think is possible. Utopia may be a fantasy, but it is worth seeking and reaching for every day. It is in that reaching, seeking, and working that we help improve the lives of others. In so doing, we always improve our own lives.”
This Fall semester, we will highlight various team members as they courageously continue working on their projects in the GDL, overcoming the obstacles and uncertainty brought on by the global pandemic. Stay tuned to the Hunt Institute Digest to get a first-hand account as the story of this semester unfolds.
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