Christel: My Couchsurfing Host!

24 Feb

Registering for the Ashoka U conference was a bit of a stretch to pay for as a student who doesn’t have a university to sponsor her ticket (which is why the Indiegogo campaign goes a long way to help out!) Then came the second challenge: I didn’t have money to stay at the hotel where most attendees were staying. So after checking out couchsurfing options on, which all seemed a bit too far away from the venue, I wrote to the organizers to ask if they could put me in touch with another option. I ended up connecting with Christel, a girl attending Arizona State University who was volunteering for the Exchange. She and her roommates were super friendly, and I could not have asked for a better solution and group of people to stay with.

A Child and Family Development Major and Non-Profit Management minor, Christel is interested in social work. ASU is the largest university in the country with 70,000 undergrad and grad students! You would think that with a university that big, it would be difficult to create change within and introduce new departments. However, the president of ASU Michael Crow who spoke at the TEDxAshokaU is a real visionary, and along with students and faculty has helped ASU become a leader in the field of social innovation learning in higher education.

Christel shares her thoughts on social entrepreneurship, and how it can be better embedded into higher education. Christel says that “I think what’s really important is an introduction to the concept of social entrepreneurship. Just through power of awareness that can help people start thinking about it. [Something] I heard at the exchange that was really interesting was that most people don’t view themselves as entrepreneurs. When they hear the idea, that’s not really how they view themselves, it’s kind of far removed. So I think that educating people that it is a possibility, and that it really starts in small ways, like the 10,000 Solutions Project… ideas that can be very raw, unformed ideas, can still make a diffference and get people thinking a little more in that mindset.”

10,000 Solutions as Christel mentioned is an initiative of ASU to gather thousands of solutions to solve local and global challenges, and participants can receive feedback on their submitted solutions and have a chance to win $10,000 for their innovative idea. You can check out my own submission, filmed at the exchange!

Regina and Christel

Another important element Christel mentions is finding and seeking out formal or informal mentors, which can include your own peers and friends. Christel was introduced to social entrepreneurship by her friend and fellow ASU student Regina. Regina was one of the student organizers of the Exchange, and interned with Ashoka U this past summer in Mexico, working with a university there. She was also the organizer who put me in touch with Christel for couchsurfing. You can watch her TEDxAshokaU talk from last year at Duke University. Christel talks about how by surrounding herself with peer mentors like Regina, she was able to be further educated about a topic that at first was an unfamiliar term and concept. 

Thanks to Christel, Regina, and Christel’s roommates Emily and Kevina for the great conversations and time at ASU!


One Response to “Christel: My Couchsurfing Host!”

  1. Terhaar April 9, 2012 at 4:16 am #

    Get upset! Simply letting the quota happen isnt acceptable. Generally this will allow you to take the inititive to make things happen.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: