Felipe first found out about Nourish when he received an email about OSU’s 2010 Project in Peru. The Project sparked his interest so he decided to attend a meeting. After his first meeting, Felipe was hooked, joining the Project team and becoming an active member of OSU Nourish.
On the project, Felipe observed that “by having community members work alongside Nourish volunteers and our project partner, Nourish ensures that the project or program will continue to exist and benefit the community. “He believes that it is this commitment to community partnerships distinguishes Nourish from other organizations.
Felipe says that participating in the Clean Water Project with Moche in Cerro Blanco, Peru during summer 2010 was one of the greatest experiences of his life. On the Project, he was able to see how their efforts raising money and preparing the project during the year lead to having a sustainable impact on the community of Cerro Blanco. After all the preparation, he finally got to see Nourish’s work in action!
When asked what advice he has for students who are thinking about joining Nourish, he said: “If you want to help impoverished communities and learn career skills, Nourish allows you to do all of that. At Ohio State, we had students from all majors and backgrounds in our chapter. We all learn different things from our experience in Nourish but we have the same goal – to help others. I like phrasing it as ‘empowering students while empowering communities.’”
Allie loved how Nourish promoted thinking outside of the box, which helps Chapters develop Ventures that cater to the particular environment on campus and in their city. For Allie, Nourish is unique because “people tend to think of business as antithetical to development, but Nourish combines the sustainability of ventures with the bottom-line of do-gooding in order to create relevant, interesting change that is accessible to both students and partner communities.”
After graduating from UCLA in 2010, Allie headed to Argentina for grad school. “Nourish prepared me for this adventure in a number of ways; from executing the chapter project in Bolivia in 2010 to the constant adaptation required to launch successful ventures, getting my hands dirty in Nourish was an important learning experience in designing innovative interventions.”
To those students who are just getting involved in Nourish, Allie has a few words:
“There’s this great Nelson Mandela quote that sums up my feelings about the type of work you can accomplish in Nourish: “Your playing small does not serve the world.”
In 2008, Audrey decided to attend an information session for a new organization on her campus, something called UT-Austin Nourish International. After just one meeting, she was hooked. “I loved how enthusiastic Natasha, the Chapter Founder, was about the whole thing. I loved the message and the idea behind it! I think the model of an undergraduate organization raising money throughout the year to send their own members on a project is pretty neat.”
Audrey held the International Projects Director position for two years in her chapter, and she loved that the chapter was like a family. “Being the IP Director, I always tremendously enjoyed all the project planning, and then watching it all finally unfold after months of work. I also loved the feeling of camaraderie, when we were all holding emergency poker-dealing tutorials before Casino Night or something. Everyone was really committed to helping the chapter succeed.”
Since graduating in 2011, Audrey has moved to Houston, Texas and joined the working world. Her main advice to students thinking about joining Nourish is pretty easy to follow: “Do it! In addition to being a great organization, it’s a great opportunity to grow. The skills you use in Nourish are directly transferrable to your life post-graduation. How many 23-year-olds can say completely honestly that they have a strong background in project-planning and budgeting? Plus it’s so rewarding to be around all these people that are all passionate about the same thing. You really develop a community together!”
In the Spring of 2010, Nourish Staff reached out to Wake Forest University in search of undergraduate leaders to found a new Nourish International Chapter. “I knew that my school needed to be a part of this organization, and I knew that I wanted to help make that happen,” thought Paul Szurek, who later became the Chapter Founder and Chapter Leader of the Wake Forest Nourish Chapter.
Paul is passionate about Nourish because it gives students an outlet for innovation and valuable teamwork and because he believes that Nourish brings a more unique and creative approach to international development. “My favorite part of the Nourish experience was seeing how much passion and enthusiasm this work sparked among my friends and peers. I never would have suspected that so many of the people I went to school with would be so interested in social entrepreneurship, but people just get really excited when they know that they are making a difference – and that is when exciting things happen”.
Paul currently works as a management consultant for Bain & Company. Paul uses the skills he learned as Nourish Chapter Leader daily and mentions that he now knows how to approach challenges with creativity and perseverance.
As advice to all future Nourish International Chapter Members, Paul suggests, “If you want to do something that will truly benefit the world around you – and have a lot of fun at the same time – you won’t find a more rewarding experience than what Nourish can offer.”
Logan Couce, a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, first became curious about Nourish International when he saw students serving the weekly ‘Hunger Lunch’, UNC’s most popular Nourish business venture. After speaking with a friend who had participated in Nourish’s summer project in Latin America, Logan decided to become involved.
Two things about Nourish International really sparked Logan’s interest. First, the organization is totally run by the students. Students take the drivers seat in planning and implementing everything from on-campus ventures to summer projects abroad, allowing them to grow both professionally and personally. Second, is Nourish’s capacity to be self-critical within the organization. Logan says, “As an undergraduate I saw many student organizations that, while possessing the best of intentions, frequently ran full steam ahead without ever stopping to question what unintended negative impacts were possible.” Logan feels it is important that the culture at Nourish promotes development of future leaders who have the experience and skills to think critically about the projects and their impacts.
Nourish International provided Logan with the opportunity to gain experience in developing and leading projects and organizations from the ground level up. In working through the process of taking something from idea to reality, Logan became skilled in everything from public speaking to partnership building, from writing to simply understanding how to effectively run a meeting. “The skills learned through my time with Nourish International were easily the most professionally valuable thing about my experience in college, and have served as a strong foundation in the working world,” remarked Logan.
He also had the chance to work with dozens of passionate, hard-working and like-minded people, including both fellow students and our partners abroad. Logan says of his time working with Nourish on UNC’s campus, “Lifelong bonds were formed, and those friendships and experiences played a big part in shaping who I am today.”
Logan is currently splitting his time between developing and leading online fundraising campaigns for a youth development foundation in New Mexico, researching a few potential business and social ventures, and exploring options for graduate school. He would encourage students considering working with Nourish to jump in wholeheartedly. “The opportunity exists to learn and grow an incredible amount, and the bonds built in the process will be with you for life. You won’t regret jumping in with both feet.”
The University of Georgia’s Alumni Association recently printed an article about the successes of the UGA Nourish Chapter. “We were so excited to hear the recent news concerning the Nourish International Chapter here at the University of Georgia. We have shared this exciting story through our blog on the UGA Alumni Association website”, says UGA Alumni Association worker Kaelin Caldwell. Keep up the good work UGA!
The article can be viewed here: http://www.alumni.uga.edu/alumni/index.php/site/blog/12664
Nourish International is committed to continuing to improve our extensive student leadership curriculum. In keeping with this, the National Office is excited to announce that alumni will be serving as mentors to current student leaders at the Summer Institute for the first time ever.
Alumni will attend Summer Institute workshops alongside students and will be able to provide instant feedback on ideas for ventures, projects, leadership, and more. This presents a unique chance for students to receive advice from past students who have gone through the same challenges they currently face as campus leaders. This also presents an opportunity for alumni to stay connected to and give back to Nourish.
The following alumni will be serving as mentors at the Summer Institute:
- Alex Ahearn: former chapter leader at Duke University
- Logan Couce: former NINO staff member and UNC chapter alumnus
- James Dillard: former NINO staff member and UNC chapter alumnus
- Alison Dorsey: Duke chapter alumnus and Argentina project participant
- Joel Thomas: first executive director of Nourish and UNC chapter alumnus
- Bryon Zandt: former NINO staff member and UNC chapter alumnus
We are excited to welcome these esteemed alumni to the Summer Institute!
Carolyn Brown first found out about Nourish through a friend at the University of Michigan. “Nourish was in its first year at Michigan, so it was a great opportunity to get heavily involved as a freshman,” says Carolyn. “Since the group was small, I felt that my voice was heard and appreciated. I had equal say in the daily activities of ventures as well as project planning.”
When Carolyn transferred to Brown University the following year, she knew she wanted to continue working with Nourish. Specifically, she liked that Nourish’s development model is community-based and revolves around local people knowing what works best for them. Carolyn decided to apply to found a Nourish Chapter at Brown.
The biggest obstacle Carolyn encountered as she began her chapter was getting Nourish approved as a student group by the university. That year, Brown changed its policies to prohibit student groups who took money from the Brown community and invested it elsewhere. Carolyn met with several deans and the head of the Student Activities Office to counter this policy. Her perseverance paid off, and she convinced university officials to create a new student group category for service organizations that could raise money on campus but would not receive funding from Brown.
Another setback occurred for Carolyn during her chapter’s first year when their summer project partner chapter folded in the midst of trip preparations. The Brown chapter scrambled to find a new partner at the last minute and ended up having a very successful partnership with Cornell University in El Salvador.
After her first year as the Brown chapter leader, Carolyn also went on to serve as co-international projects director and treasurer.
“Nourish provided me the opportunity to understand what truly motivates me, which is collaborative service and development,” says Carolyn. “I’m pursuing a career in public health, so the fundamental lessons I’ve learned through both developing and implementing Nourish projects will be directly useful as I go on to conduct studies and interventions in the health sector later on.”
Carolyn highly encourages college students to get involved with Nourish International. “Nourish has honestly been one of the most rewarding experiences of my college career, and the only way to truly benefit from all it has to offer is to totally immerse yourself in the cause and trust in the experience,” she says. “Not every aspect of Nourish’s work is going to be fun or perfect by any means, but if I hadn’t pushed through the challenges, I would not have had the chance to grow and benefit from this amazing organization and all the people involved both here and abroad.”
Carolyn is currently working for the Harvard School of Public Health on a research study in Tanzania, examining the impact of vitamin A supplementation on decreasing neonatal mortality and other health indicators. She hopes to return to work in Boston in the fall and will continue to support the Brown Nourish chapter from there.
Lauren Browne, the Chapter Founder at the University of Virginia, became passionate about international service after going on several alternative spring break trips. “My trips opened my eyes to public service and the international development field,” says Lauren. “Nourish presented an opportunity to explore that potential interest.”
Like most other starting organizations, Lauren’s Nourish chapter initially experienced some obstacles. The group had to compete with hundreds of other organizations for membership, attendance at events, and funds for projects. “After numerous setbacks, I also found it difficult to motivate my executive board members, so that wound up being a challenge as well,” says Lauren.
Despite a rocky start, the UVA chapter went on to have many accomplishments under Lauren’s direction. The chapter was able to send five students abroad during its first year to work on a summer project in collaboration with other Nourish chapters. Lauren’s chapter also hosted a successful date auction with several other public service organizations at UVA.
Last summer, Lauren’s chapter sponsored a project in Ecuador in collaboration with community partner Triple Salto. Lauren’s job was to ensure that the participants had a positive trip experience. The project team constructed greenhouses at elementary schools, planted tomato seeds, installed an irrigation system, and built a wormerie. They also painted murals related to nutrition and world geography. The goal of the project was for the schools to use the vegetables in school meals, sell the surplus for profit, and teach the students about gardening and nutrition.
Throughout her time as the UVA Nourish chapter director, Lauren successfully balanced her school, work, and volunteer responsibilities while still finding time to relax with friends on the weekend and apply to the Peace Corps. For students struggling to find such a balance, Lauren advises, “Figure out your priorities, focus only on the most important, and stick to a schedule.”
Lauren’s involvement with Nourish impacted her life in many ways, causing her to rethink her future career plans. “My sole interest was in medicine until I became involved with Nourish, which cemented my interest in international development,” she says. “The Ecuador trip re-confirmed my belief that sustainable development was a cause I should dedicate my life’s work to.”
Currently, Lauren is volunteering with the Peace Corps in San Cristobal Totonicapan, Guatemala, where she implements the Healthy Schools program in 20 schools. After the three-week teacher’s strike that occurred during her first month at the site, she began visiting schools, meeting faculty and students, and working on baseline surveys. Most recently, she has been applying for grants to fund water projects at schools lacking consistent access to water.
After gaining field experience in the Peace Corps, Lauren plans to work for several years and apply to graduate school. She hopes to obtain a Master’s of Public Administration in development practice or a Master’s of Public Health. Eventually, she would like to find a career where she can work in the United States for most of the year and facilitate development projects overseas for the rest. “I know that I’m not going to change the world,” says Lauren, “but I can at least change a small part of it.”
Lauren plans on staying connected to Nourish by networking with alumni, reaching out to the UVA chapter, and sharing her story with as many people as possible. “I highly recommend that every incoming university student with a slight interest in poverty reduction gets involved in some way with Nourish International,” she says. “The rewards are numerous and you will undoubtedly walk away not only a better person, but also a better leader.”
For Zina Badri, founding a Nourish Chapter at University of Michigan was all about connections. One of her friends from high school who attended UNC knew the original Nourish founders, and he reached out to Zina when Nourish began to look to expand to other college campuses. She “loved the Nourish International model which kindles the entrepreneurial flame in students, and the unique approach to ‘outside the box’ fundraising activities that bring students closer to the issues” which with they work.
Initially, Zina found that Hunger Lunches were a great way to get the word out about Nourish on their campus. It was a great way to spark conversation and Nourish members were able to have meaningful conversations with students about the nature of their work. The first-year team also worked hard to set the tone for the group and lay out a long-term strategy. While Hunger Lunch soon became a staple, it proved difficult to diversify and promote other fundraising activities.
The new Chapter initially had not planned on sponsoring a project, opting to focus on group membership, but soon decided to partner with UNC and Duke. The three chapters worked on a project in Fortaleza, Brazil that sought to create a center and factory for the construction of musical instruments; this generated a source of sustainable income for the community. To learn more about this project, look at our projects history page.
Zina successfully balanced Nourish responsibilities with academics and job applications. She said that the key is to “stick to the cause that is nearest and dearest to you and devote yourself to it. You’ll find the time and work much more rewarding if you’re passionate about the area, and you’ll undoubtedly be more successful.” Nourish was critical in bridging the gap between her theoretical coursework in global health and development and execution of those ideas. While many of her undergraduate courses focused on the shortcomings and criticisms of development, Nourish empowered her to make a positive global impact. “Nourish is proof that passionate, innovative students can do great work.”
Currently, Zina is living and working in Washington, D.C. with the US Agency for International Development (USAID).