Coffee For Peace Collaborative takes student to the Philippines
Craft, a sophomore international business major, travelled alongside fellow Elizabethtown College and E-town Coffee Company representatives to Mindanao, the second largest island in the Philippines. There, they met the indigenous people who produce coffee on the sides of volcanic mountains—including the one Craft traversed.
The trip was for Coffee For Peace, a collaborative project teaching proper land management, conflict-resolution and peace to farmers in the Philippines. The farmers then grow coffee beans, which the collaborative purchases and exports wholesale. E-town Coffee Company at the E-town Public Library is connected to Coffee For Peace, and E-town’s Social Enterprise Institute provides development for all involved parties, according to Social Enterprise Institute Director James Reeb.
It was more about creating connections than anything else.”
“The marriage between these two organizations became very apparent and the SEI took on the role of developing a social enterprise to help each organization achieve its individual and the collective goals,” Reeb said. “Our role is the development of social enterprises and their leaders—that’s what we are doing.”
Craft’s involvement began when she took a class with Peacemaker-in-Residence Jonathan Rudy. One day after class, he approached her about SEI’s project.
“He just mentioned this to me,” Craft said, “and I followed up with [SEI], and I actually got the job.”
Her job is as a research assistant for the project, but when Rudy heard about the opportunity to see coffee production in action, he knew he wanted to take Craft along.
“I was just very pleased that Rachel did very well,” Rudy said of the busy trip, “and that it looks like there’s more possibility for students to go there.”
The four-and-a-half-day trip included daily meetings with Coffee For Peace representatives, conversations with indigenous farmers and watching the production of coffee “up close and personal,” as Craft put it.
“It was pretty crazy,” she said. “It was my first time out of the country at all.”
Despite the hectic schedule, Craft said she doesn’t regret the trip.
“It was just such an overwhelming, amazing and long journey in such a short amount of time,” the sophomore said. “It was more about creating connections than anything else.”
Rudy, who lived in the Philippines for six years and has taken 16 trips to the country in the past decade, said he was thrilled at the chance to head back and see Coffee For Peace at work. In fact, he’s the person who connected SEI to Coffee For Peace, having secured the initial round of funding to look into the project and urge stakeholders to meet with Coffee For Peace representatives.
“The Philippines is near and dear to my heart,” Rudy said. “And since it’s Coffee For Peace, it’s right up my alley.”
Craft said the project is a great fit for her as well, and she’s thankful the opportunity to be part of the organization presented itself.
“E-town plays a major role in that,” Craft said. “You talk to anybody, you talk about the opportunities here.”
Craft said that E-town allowed her to get to know professors on a personal level, which, she noted, attributed to her joining Coffee For Peace.
“My first day of freshman year I hit the ground running,” Craft said. “It’s gotten me a long way.”