MLT Blog

Committed to Driving Change: MBA Prep Rising Leader Jason Bailey Reflects on Trip to Ghana with New MLT Partner CommonBond

By: Jason Bailey, MLT MBA Prep (Class of 2010), Duke University, Fuqua School of Business (Class of 2012)

This piece has been re-posted from the CommonBond Blog. CommonBond is a student lending platform that provides lower cost student loans to students at 20 MBA programs across the country. Jason Bailey is a CommonBond borrower and MLT Rising Leader who was selected for a sponsored trip to Ghana with Pencils of Promise. Below are Jason’s reflections after coming back from the trip:

A lot of people have a point of view, a vision on how things should be, but how many of us actually put our resources and efforts towards seeing that world view come to fruition. My trip with CommonBond and Pencils of Promise (PoP) provided me with an opportunity to see what happens when people commit to driving the change they want to see. I’ve had two weeks to digest my awesome experience in Ghana and I am excited to share my thoughts with the rest of the CommonBond community.

Impact: It is easy to witness how PoP is changing lives all across eastern Ghana. I watched children proudly read aloud, sing educational songs and tackle tough vocabulary words in sturdy and well-designed classrooms. I witnessed passionate teachers, equipped with new engagement techniques confidently lead children in lessons on long division, geometry and fractions. For these farming and fishing communities I saw a new world of opportunities open up for future generations.

Like most things in life, it is not just what you do but how you do it. PoP is establishing true partnerships with the communities that they serve. In observing the interactions with local chief’s and village elders I saw a level of mutual respect that I couldn’t help but admire. In enlisting the help of local men and women to weigh in on design decisions, organize materials and build cement blocks, PoP ensures that these communities can help to create a brighter future for their children.

Reality check: Under the cover of a mango tree, I saw 20 8th graders discuss what would happen if a neutrally charged atom lost an electron. I watched as the teacher drew a diagram on a makeshift chalkboard, made from a spare piece of slate that had been leaned against the trunk of the tree. This wasn’t a case of students leisurely enjoying the bright and warm Ghanaian sun. This was their actual classroom. This is where they learned whether rain or shine.

Besides trying desperately to keep up with the conversation, I was amazed at how attentive and eager these students were to demonstrate their mastery of the material, despite the obvious lack of resources. Honestly, I felt a bit self-conscious as I realized that my daily complaints about slow Internet bandwidth epitomized a First World problem.

Community: The biggest compliment that I can share about the CommonBond and PoP teams are that they are good and decent people. Sometimes when you get ambitious, smart, type-A people together personalities can clash. However, I can honestly say that I haven’t had so many refreshing, stimulating conversations in quite some time.JasonBaileyGhana

What was equally impressive was the CommonBond team’s willingness to solicit feedback, entertain ideas and address concerns from the three borrowers on the trip. CommonBond credits an awesome customer experience as a key differentiator for the company. If the hospitality and generosity I witnessed on the trip are any indication, I am confident that the company will continue to experience success way into the future.

I want to reiterate my sincere gratitude to the CommonBond and Pencils of Promise teams for the wonderful experience. It was an eye-opening and truly inspiring life experience and I am proud to be part of a community that is doing great things for people around the world.