As I think over the past six months that I’ve spent working intimately with Nicole and the others who have helped to nurture and support the development of the Student Advisory Board (SAB), I am left in humble amazement, feeling a deep sense of gratitude for the progress that we’ve made thus far and am excited for what is still yet to come. One of our most important tasks beginning the year was to recruit and secure new SAB Chapter Reps from all of our Chapters across the country. And then, to select a project that was worthy of the time and passion of our newly appointed board. With unanimous support, the new Student Advisory Board approved two new projects: planning for our first National Nourish Day and conducting Chapter discussions on long-term community partnerships.
The SAB launched into the discussion about long-term community partnerships during mid-October, utilizing its new Chapter Reps as facilitators for conducting thought-provoking discussions with their respective Chapters, engaging them in a conversation about the pros and cons of having long-term community partnerships. Through this process, the board learned that many Nourish members have quite a reasonable understanding of international development. The feedback revealed that Nourish members generally support the idea of having long-term community partnerships, believing that they will enhance the sustainability of the work in which Nourish engages. However, despite general support, some concerns were expressed by the Chapters. Two of their most prominent concerns were that this idea might foster dependency, and that it might limit the Chapter’s power of choice. Because the Chapters were not given a specific model of long-term partnerships to consider, there were many variations on what this might look like, which allowed the students to develop a comprehensive set of “worst case scenarios”. At this point in time, the SAB’s report on these Chapter discussions will greatly inform any changes that they may happen to make to better the International Projects process for the upcoming school year.
The SAB now has the opportunity to plan for our first-ever National Nourish Day (NND)! There is a lot of excitement across all the Chapters for this, and we are truly looking forward to diving into this initiative. In mid-December, we had a round of conference calls with all the Chapter Reps, during which time we brainstormed an assortment of ideas for NND. Nicole and I are sifting through the ideas now, trying to determine which are most feasible for implementing across the entire Network, and of course, which ones seem to be the most fun, creative and engaging. For now, I’m going to keep a tight lid on which ideas are rising to the top and will leave it up to your Chapter Reps to fill you in when the time is right. So keep your ears up and your eyes open – the details will be flying at you soon enough!
SAB Co-Chair / Student Board Member
My road to becoming a Student Advisory Board (SAB) Co-Chair/Student Board Member started in an unlikely place—and that place was Rome, Italy.
I vividly remember the sense of panic I felt when I got an email from the National Office gently asking and reminding me that applications for the position were due soon and encouraging me to submit one. I had fully intended to apply, yet there I was, 2 weeks and hundreds of miles away from my laptop and all my files. I was impressed that I could even get Wi-Fi on my phone in our ‘modest’ hostel. At that moment of panic, I could never imagine how rewarding, humbling, and deeply exhilarating the next few months of interviews, training, and then transition to being a Student Board Member would be.
As I’m quickly approaching my first board meeting, I still have trepidations and uncertainties. However, I am now more sure than ever that I made a very good decision to apply for this position and the opportunity to work with every integral part of the Nourish movement. I am continually blown away by the caliber of excellence in all of the individuals I am working with.
My work started in July as I got to know my Co-Chair, John McCreary. Neither of us knew exactly what to expect, nor did we have a firm grasp on the details of the journey we were embarking on together. Those first orientation calls with Allie at the National Office and last year’s wonderful Co-Chairs, Claire Kane and Kyle Forrester, helped us shape our enthusiasm into understanding. Side phone calls with just John allowed he and I to establish trust and a friendship on which to base our increasing interactions.
By the time the Summer Institute arrived in August, John and I had already logged several hours and spent several nights of work developing our vision for this year’s Student Advisory Board. So despite having never met him, I already felt like John and I had known each other for years. The openness and optimism that we shared with each other as well as the encouragement and support that Kyle Forrester provided leading up to and all throughout the Summer Institute allowed us all to work together exceptionally well. By the end of the Institute we put the final touches on Kyle and Claire’s work from the year before and unveiled Nourish’s new Mission, Vision, and Values—all while building stronger support for this year’s yet to be determined SAB project.
Since the Summer Institute, John and I have continued to grow the base of the SAB. Our last couple weeks have been filled with emails and phone calls and Facebook messages as we work to recruit this year’s group of chapter and regional representatives. The more emails I send, and the more interaction I have with other chapters, the more excited I get about the potential of the SAB and the Nourish movement. It’s still very early in the year (in fact, many of our West Coast chapters still haven’t returned to classes), but I am filled with hope and expectations for a successful year ahead.