Aaron Bendfeldt Vasquez is an entrepreneur from Guatemala and founder of Grønn (green). Grønn is Guatemalas first glass recycling /upcycling platform for restaurants. Preventing glass bottles from ending up in landfills and instead repurpose them into handmade glassware and home décor pieces. The products are manufactured by women from the most dangerous neighborhoods in Guatemala City. The aim is to create a business model that through its operation can contribute to the social and environmental development of Guatemala.
Aaron participated in the FK exchange programme SPOR in 2012 and spent five months in Kautokeino in the northern part of Norway.
- When arriving in Norway I good deeply impressed on how society works. The social and environmental values that drove the general thinking of the Norwegians. I realized how things had changed from being a poor country during the period of World War 2 and how right decisions made Norway what it is today. I truly believe the exchange helped me becoming a better person, more culturally sensitive and opened my eyes to a global perspective.
Think globally - act locally
Going on exchange often lights a spark. The participant wants to create a change, wants to contribute and put the knowledge into practice. Aaron says his FK experience and having to deal with the realities of his country has challenged him to become an entrepreneur.
- Even though I don't exactly use what we learned in my exchange I was highly motivated in wanting to create changes in my country, which hasn't been easy. I still remember to this day a phrase one of the directors we met said: Our goal in FK Norway is to help the world become smaller, thinking globally but acting locally. This idea has stayed with me up to this day.
So, what will Aarons advice to those who wants to go on exchange be?
- Keep your mind open, embrace as much of the culture as you can and understand that there is always a unique perspective and story on the country you are visiting. Be respectful to that. Challenge yourself to view life differently and focus on how the exchange can make you a meaningful individual once you come back home. The exchange has allowed me to understand how we all are equal, no matter where we come from and replicate that culture in our business, since we primarily work with women who are marginalized in our society based on where they live and having difficulties finding a job.
What's your #myFKeffect?