High Impact of Virtual Institute 2015
This past Saturday, January 24th, we hosted Virtual Institute 2015! Every January, Nourish International and its Chapters gather together on AnyMeeting.com for this virtual training conference as a collaborative effort to grow the Nourish movement. This year, we were extremely excited to have over 30 of our amazing chapters with 100 student social entrepreneurs attend our daylong development session. (Shout out to our Chapters on the West Coast for getting up at 9 am on a Saturday!)
Every year, Virtual Institute has served as a platform for Chapters across the US and Canada to connect and learn from each other. We tailored our valuable workshops and discussions so that Chapters may build a better understanding of how to further the impact on extreme poverty as student leaders. Students are able to not only inspire but also learn from their peers—Virtual Institute is one of two times in the year, the other being our Summer Institute, in which Nourish is able to participate as one group.
Virtual Institute this year was a huge success! Students loved how they were able to meet with other leaders in the movement and share their passions for sustainable and responsible development projects. Lauren Monahan from Boston College loved “[seeing and] hearing from all the students and being able to connect with them!” Alex Deuley from Pitt affirmed that “connecting with students across the country and hearing that they are going through similar experiences that we are” was one of the best parts of Virtual Institute.
To support Nourish’s high impact virtual programs, like Virtual Institute, you can donate here.
Connect with Nourish!
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.
The National Office is excited to announce that Houston Spencer, Sarah Bishop, and Ted Gonder will be speaking at the annual Summer Institute this August. Held in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, this five-day conference for Nourish students includes leadership workshops, mentoring, and hands-on training in addition to the guest speakers.
Houston Spencer was born in the United States and raised in Canada. After obtaining both a bachelor’s and master’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he left his academic career in North America to enter the high-tech industry in Australia. He spent five years with McKinsey & Company assisting companies with major upheaval. He then joined Alcatel’s Asia Pacific Headquarters in 2001 and became the director of the global marketing team in 2003. In his current role, Houston leads the team responsible for Alcatel’s activity with key non-customer stakeholders, including industry analysts, strategic partners, and end-users. He is also responsible for Alcatel’s global marketing plan.
Sarah Bishop is the fellowship director at StartingBloc, an organization that trains the next generation of leaders in social innovation practices. She recruits StartingBloc Fellows, designs curriculum, and creates programming so that Fellows can get the resources needed to dramatically increase impact. Prior to joining StartingBloc, Sarah spent two years coordinating countrywide education programs in El Salvador, Jordan, and Peru. She graduated with a B.A. in International Marketing from American University, where she founded and led the gymnastics team.
As the co-founder and director of development for MoneyThink, Ted Gonder develops partnerships with universities around the United States to create student-orchestrated co-curricular financial literary workshops in low-income high schools and communities. He is a rising senior at the University of Chicago and a Boston 2011 StartingBloc Fellow. Gonder is currently interning at the Kauffman Foundation, where he is researching expansion of small business support in the United States.
The National Office is excited to welcome these esteemed speakers to the Summer Institute and is awaiting the arrival of the 40+ student attendees on August 4th.
Nourish is thrilled to add four new chapters for the 2011-2012 school year! Students at the University of Kansas, the University of California-Santa Barbara, Rice University, and the University of South Florida are excited to begin ventures in the fall. The National Office is grateful for the hard work and dedication shown by the Chapter Founders intern team in their recruitment and selection help!
Read on to learn more about the Chapter Founders:
Adam Nicholson is entering his junior year at the University of Kansas. He is majoring in sociology with a minor in peace and conflict studies. In the fall, Adam will be entering the McNair Scholars Program and hopes to one day obtain a PhD in sociology. Before coming to the University of Kansas, Adam spent four years in the United States Marine Corps and did two tours of duty in Iraq. His experiences overseas are a major part of his passion for developing impoverished areas. Adam is married and has an 8-month-old son, Joshua.
Miya Sommers is a first-year student at the University of California-Santa Barbara and is double-majoring in global studies and cultural anthropology. Growing up, she dreamed about joining the Peace Corps. Upon entering college, her desire to combat poverty on a global scale focused her interests into sustainable development, with a special focus on agriculture and the environment. She desires a world where all people have enough to eat while still preserving the beauty of our planet. When not dreaming up ways to save the world, Miya loves to do Polynesian dance, wrestle, or watch Doctor Who. She is excited about bringing Nourish to her campus and can’t wait to watch it grow.
Victoria Delgado is a sophomore at Rice University in Houston, Texas, studying economics and Hispanic studies. Overwhelmed by the number of different clubs and organizations on her campus, she stumbled upon Nourish International and was inspired to start her own chapter. She is confident that her campus will embrace Nourish’s message and is thrilled to be a stitch in the fabric of the movement to eradicate global poverty. In her free time, she enjoys spending time at the gym, sharing movies and music with her friends, and trying desperately to teach her German Shepherd new tricks. She ultimately wants to spend several years abroad working with the Peace Corps after graduation. Victoria is excited that Nourish will help her acquire skills that will facilitate success in future humanitarian work.
Adrienne Mael is a graduate student at the University of South Florida working on a degree in applied anthropology. Her passions include international development and working side-by-side with local communities to create sustainable change. Before she started graduate school, Adrienne worked for an international volunteer organization, which sparked her interested in development from the perspective of the volunteer. Her current research is on volunteer satisfaction and retention. Adrienne has been lucky to travel to West Africa and Central America, where she worked on development projects with schools, orphanages, and women’s empowerment movements. Adrienne is excited to be working with Nourish International and starting on a new international development project.
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.”