While many teens might not have been excited about staying in Buffalo for vacation, the students on the Holy Angels Academy SAGE team were ecstatic. From July 22-26 at Canisius College, they got the chance to compete in the 2011 SAGE World Cup and welcome teens from all over the world.

SAGE, Students for the Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship, is divided into two divisions: Social Enterprise Business (SEB) and Socially Responsible Business (SRB). After sending both SEB and SRB teams to the national competition in Chicago in May, Holy Angels came out on top, coming in second in the SRB category and first in the SEB category. The SEB team, Small World Book Publishing Co., was invited to the 2011 World Cup. Holy Angels' teams are no strangers to the SAGE World Cup, and have gone to Nigeria, Brazil and South Africa to compete.

After a Friday night welcome party and a tour of the city the next morning, the Cultural Day presentations were held Saturday afternoon. It seemed to be everyone's favorite part of the weekend -- to see all the teams in their country's traditional outfits, showing the best of the cultures and their national pride. The presentations ranged from dancing to singing to the Holy Angels team's Buffalo trivia game.

Holy Angels sophomore Kelly Paterson said, "I loved getting immersed in cultures I never even knew existed."

Later that night the teams got another taste of American culture by attending a Bisons' baseball game.

On Sunday morning, it literally came down to business as the teams prepared to present to the judges. SAGE teams had to present their businesses, social ventures, environmental projects and how they taught civic engagement.

The Holy Angels team spoke about Small World Book Publishing, which has published three bilingual children's books written by students and two for FANA, an adoption agency in Bogota, Columbia, that also runs a Spanish camp in Buffalo.

The team focuses on empowering women, and this year's profits helped fund a beekeeping business in the Congo that will employ women and provide honey as nutrition and medicine. Also, the team sent dresses to a boutique in the Dominican Republic that employs women who would otherwise have to resort to prostitution. For the environmental aspect, the team cleaned up Shoshone Park; and for civic engagement, the team held a mock election at Holy Angels.

After the semifinal round of presentations, the teams visited Niagara Falls. After going there many times for field trips and with family, it was still a new experience for the Holy Angels team. Why? Because as junior Jenna Walczak said, we were "with people from different countries and seeing it through their eyes."

On Monday, the finalists were announced, including Holy Angels, and the teams presented again. Going into the gala dinner that night, everyone's nerves were on overload.

For many Holy Angels team members, SAGE has made a lasting impact on their lives.

Hanna Morelli, a member of the Class of 2011, said, "SAGE has taught me more than any class in school could ever teach me."

Allie Marasco, a senior, said, "When I began SAGE as a sophomore, I was shy and quite afraid of public speaking. Through SAGE, not only was I able to gain confidence but I was able to start my own business and help people around the world."

With these reflections in mind, the girls headed up to the stage to hear the results. In the SEB division, fourth place went to a team from South Africa; third went to Canada; and second went to Holy Angels. The team from Nigeria was named world champion.

The Holy Angels team won two other awards for empowering women and stopping the spread of diseases.

In the SRB division, Nigeria came in first again, with China in second, Canada in third, and Ukraine in fourth.

Heather Wilson, a 2011 Holy Angels graduate, said, "I think more people should know about SAGE, not only to bring notice to the people in need around the world, but also to show how capable and concerned today's youth is about the state our world is in."


Kristina Macro is a junior at Holy Angels Academy.