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Nourish International

Summer Project Spotlight: Computer Literacy in Honduras

August 19, 2011 | Posted in Summer Projects | By

Facebook, e-mail, Twitter, Google, blogs, instant messaging, Skype, chat rooms, discussion boards…the average American youth has so many methods of communication all available at the click of a mouse. These outlets give youth access to a vast array of information and allow them to connect to their peers and world in new ways.

In many developing countries, the Internet is still a new concept. Can you imagine how hard your life would be without the Internet? How would you search for a job? How would you keep in touch with friends and family? How would you find a recipe for dinner? The Internet gives humans access to so many resources that improve quality of life, yet many people do not have access to the Internet and do not know how to use it.

This summer, the UNC Nourish chapter and two students from Yale and Brown Universities teamed up with nonprofit FIPAH to bridge the communication and information gap between developed and developing countries. The project team taught English, computer skills, and Internet literacy to Honduran youth in the Yorito and Jesus de Otoro regions of Honduras. The team also taught the youth about photography to further facilitate connections between the youth, their communities, and the wider world.


This is UNC’s fourth consecutive summer working with FIPAH, or the Fundacion para la Investigacion Participativa de Agricultores de Honduras. “Nourish UNC’s longstanding, fruitful partnership with FIPAH models the kind of mutually beneficial exchange our chapter seeks to build in our relationships with every partner organization,” says one project member. “We keep sending teams to Honduras because FIPAH never fails to propose compelling projects and our interns return to the US every year raving about their experience.”

One UNC student has continued to work with FIPAH outside of Nourish. Rising senior Claire Kane, who established Nourish’s FIPAH partnership in 2008, returned a second time to film a documentary about the organization.

This year’s project team has returned from Honduras, and you can read about their experiences on their blog by clicking here.

Local Food at Summer Institute

August 18, 2011 | Posted in Summer Institute | By

As we look back on the Summer Institute, Nourish International would like to recognize and thank our food sponsors. This year, we strived to work with locally owned businesses, supporting our community members in these difficult times. Not only was the food delicious, but Nourish was able to continue forging strong relations with our community. Read on to learn more about our food sponsors:

Located in the eclectic town of Carrboro, Armadillo Grill is an award-winning Tex-Mex restaurant that has been operating in the Triangle area since 1993. Perhaps the secret behind their famous soft tacos is the fact that they make their tortillas after an order has been placed, not before. We enjoyed Armadillo Grill’s delicious rice and beans as the first day’s lunch, featuring a kick back to our first venture, Hunger Lunch.

We also enjoyed UNC’s Carolina Catering. From veggie wraps to Carolina Barbeque to portobello sandwiches, Carolina Catering pleased a variety of tastes.

Local coffee shop Cup A Joe provided caffeine for those Institute attendees who are not morning people.  Owned by Joe Van Gogh, a certified organic coffee roaster, Cup A Joe offers certified Fair Trade and Shade Grown coffee. We love that Joe Van Gogh strives to purchase coffee directly from farmers, maximizing the compensation for hard-working coffee growers around the world. Next time you’re shopping for your morning cup of coffee, check out their Cafe Feminino line, which supports women-owned co-ops around the world.

Elmo’s Diner is definitely the spot to go if you’re in need of comfort food. From chocolate chip pancakes and biscuits to meatloaf and burgers, Elmo’s menu covers all home-cooking favorites. Elmo’s provided delicious quiche for the Summer Institute for the second year in a row.

Jessee’s Coffee is another local coffee shop that provided coffee for the Institute. Nourish staff members are especially excited about this coffee, as they miss their near-daily visits to Jessee’s when the National Office was located in Carrboro. Jessee’s offers free live music throughout the week and also features a locally-sourced food menu that is delicious!

We are excited that Mez Contemporary Mexican catered the Summer Institute Banquet for the second year in a row. Located in Durham, NC, Mez is the latest venture of the locally owned and operated Chapel Hill Restaurant Group, which also owns the popular 411 West, Squid’s Seafood, and Spanky’s. Mez features traditional Mexican recipes with a modern, healthy twist, and uses locally grown organic products whenever possible.

Vimala’s Curry Blossom Cafe is owned by Vimala, a Bombay native and mother of three. She began cooking donation-based community dinners in her home in 1994, and it was here that her restaurant was born. Vimala’s long-term goals are to transform the local economy by buying locally produced food, seeking local investors, and paying a living wage to staff.

Many thanks to our other food donors as well:

In this difficult economic climate, we appreciate that local businesses and franchises continue to support our students and mission. Many thanks to all of these restaurants for their generous contributions!

Summer Project Spotlight: Housing for Nicaraguan Women

August 2, 2011 | Posted in Summer Projects | By

In Nicaragua, a large portion of the population lives in poverty. Poor women, disadvantaged  due to  both their gender and their economic status, often operate on the margins of society. Lacking economic opportunity, these women struggle to care for and support their families. Basic needs like food and shelter are often not met.

This summer, the Nourish chapter at the University of New Mexico teamed up with Nicaraguan nonprofit Casa de la Mujer to provide housing for women and their families in Nicaragua. The project team is currently in Nicaragua building and improving upon houses. Deeds to the homes will be sold at little cost to female heads of household, providing the women with a property investment and increasing their independence. The women will then be able to focus on other needs in their lives.

Nicaragua construction

In addition to constructing safe shelters for Nicaraguan women, Casa de la Mujer addresses other needs, providing these women with legal resources, job training, and other services. The organization also educates women about domestic violence, health and nutrition.

The project team is currently hard at work in Nicaragua. Despite the hard manual labor required to build the houses, the team has still found time and energy to experience the culture of Nicaragua through holiday celebrations and sightseeing trips. Read about their experiences on their blog by clicking here.

What Do Nourish Interns Do, Anyway?

July 29, 2011 | Posted in Office Updates | By

It’s hard to believe that summer is already drawing to a close here at the Nourish International National Office, with the Summer Institute fast approaching. After the conclusion of the Institute, our four summer interns will leave their positions to focus on school work, jobs and other new commitments. But who are these interns and what exactly have they been doing all summer, anyway?

Natalie Prince, who came to Nourish through UNC’s APPLES Service-Learning Program, served as Nourish’s event planning intern. Her primary duty was to plan the Summer Institute, a five-day leadership conference for Nourish student leaders. Natalie has also started planning for Nourish’s Masquerade Ball in October.

Though Natalie sometimes found it challenging to be assertive in securing donations, she liked her position. “I enjoyed working in a nonprofit setting and learning more about Nourish’s mission,” she says. “I also enjoyed getting to take the lead on my own project.”

Natalie is a rising junior majoring in Spanish and political science. During the upcoming school year, Natalie will serve as co-chair of public service and advocacy for UNC’s student government. She also hopes to study abroad in the spring.

Ethan Fujita

Ethan Fujita, a rising junior at UNC majoring in philosophy and international studies, served as Nourish’s operations support intern this summer. His job involved creating resources for Nourish’s 24 chapters. Ethan created campus profiles, which highlight unique features to each chapter in order to better educate the National Office’s chapter support team. He also created university contact sheets for each chapter and researched campus restrictions on things like holding events and selling foods.

This fall, Ethan will be focusing on school, working at a local coffee shop, and volunteering with an on-campus organization called AIESEC. “AIESEC is very similar to Nourish,” says Ethan. “It is an international exchange program for student interns. We have chapters across the country and a national team as well. A lot of the things I learned through this internship are very applicable to the work I do for AIESEC, and I have a better understanding of what the national staff deal with.”

Megan Straubel

Megan Straubel, a 2011 UNC graduate, served as assistant to the executive director at Nourish this summer. Her position was challenging because of her wide range of duties: she sent out a summer mailing to donors, processed donation letters, wrote thank you letters, prepared for upcoming fundraisers, and contributed to grant writing strategy. However, Megan was happy to work for a cause close to her heart. “My internship reinforced my passion for public health while opening my eyes to the many ways in which an impact can be achieved,” she says.

Megan also worked this summer with the Chordoma Foundation, a research group for a rare form of cancer. She plans to stay on at Nourish this fall as a special projects consultant while continuing to work and apply to graduate school.

Laura Jasmine

Laura Jasmine, a rising senior majoring in public relations and religious studies, worked as Nourish’s public relations and grant writing intern this summer. She wrote Nourish’s blogs, created monthly newsletters, and designed the summer mailer and new brochure. She also helped Executive Director Ryan Richards apply for grants. “The practical skill sets that Nourish has given me have been so beneficial,” she says. “Not only have I built a portfolio and resume, I have also contributed to a cause with a mission I believe in.”

This fall, Laura will continue to serve as her sorority’s philanthropy chair and provide habilitation services to the special needs population in Chapel Hill. She will also be writing an honors thesis and applying to graduate school for social work.

Summer Project Spotlight: Educating Orphans in Uganda

July 25, 2011 | Posted in Summer Projects | By

In 2005, a young and enthusiastic Ugandan woman named Jenifer Tumwizere found herself deeply troubled by the number of orphaned and neglected children in her community. Tuition fees kept these children from attending government-run schools, leaving them without access to education or constructive daily activities. It was then that Jenifer decided to start the House of Hope.

Jenifer began House of Hope by setting aside wages from her job as an English teacher. House of Hope now serves 250 children and has grown into a full primary education school offering 10 grades, daily nutritious meals for staff and students, medical care, and social service to ensure safe home environments for students. The House has also created 28 much-needed full-time jobs for residents in the Masaka District.

Uganda House of Hope

This summer, the Nourish chapter at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville teamed up with the House of Hope to cultivate farmland and construct a water tank to provide sustainable nourishment, fresh water, and income for the House. The project team also built a new schoolhouse. All of these additions will help the House sustain itself for years to come, ensuring that orphaned children gain an education while having their basic needs met.

Click here to read the project team’s blog about their experiences in Uganda. Though they experienced some challenges, they were excited to work directly alongside Jenifer and even found time to do some sight-seeing at the Equator, Kampala, and Lake Benyoni.

New Nourish Board Members

July 21, 2011 | Posted in Office Updates | By

The Nourish International Board of Directors recently experienced some exciting membership changes. Though the board is sad to see student board member Pallavi Garg leave, they are excited for her as she begins law school this fall.

“Having a student board member is a great idea,” says Garg. “It introduces a key perspective to the board and the national office. Board members have the same propensity as chapters of getting bogged down in financial or logistical details during meetings. I felt that I was able to remind people to keep the big picture in mind during meetings. It also helps bridge the gap between chapters and the board, and provide feedback for the national office’s operational perspective.”

In her time with Nourish, Garg also helped create Nourish’s Alumni Committee and served as the University of Texas-Austin chapter’s volunteer director and CEO.

In keeping with the notion that Nourish is a student-led movement, the board decided to add not one, but two new student members to replace Pallavi. Kyle Forrester is a sophomore at Ohio State University majoring in business with a minor in leadership studies. Kyle led his chapter’s project to Peru in 2011 and will be serving as the human resources director for the 2011-2012 school year. He is excited to get his feet wet in the world of nonprofits and wants to facilitate inter-chapter communication so that the passions and techniques that empower Nourish members can be shared. Outside of Nourish, Kyle enjoys playing ukulele, reading, and running around outside.

Kyle Forrester

Claire Boychuck, a senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is the second new student to join the board. Claire holds an IB diploma from Pearson United World College and is currently studying geography and Chinese. She is passionate about the role of images, words and rhetoric in framing poverty and development. In her first year at UNC, she founded the Nourish-FIPAH Honduras partnership, co-led student teams to Honduras in 2009 and 2010, and served on the UNC Executive Board. As part of the Nourish–FIPAH partnership, Claire co-produced a documentary film, Saving the Seed, which explores the struggles of rural farmers in Honduras to control their food supplies and livelihoods. The film highlights one organization’s pioneering model for rural community development.

Claire Boychuk

Garg is excited to see two students taking places on the board. “The expansion of this position is a great plan and I am excited to see it’s impact on chapters,” she says. “I hope the future student board members will further bridge the gap between the national structure and chapters.”

Summer Project Spotlight: Educating Violence Survivors in Guatemala

July 18, 2011 | Posted in Summer Projects | By

In Guatemala, there is a community of women who have suffered from sexual violence. Most have been raped, are pregnant, or were thrown out of their homes. These survivors are currently living in a shelter with fellow survivors. Most new arrivals to the shelter have never had access to skills training opportunities and have no basic tools to provide for themselves and their children.

This summer, the UCLA Nourish chapter has teamed up with nonprofit SIFE to support these women by providing them with vocational skills. The project team is teaching the women finance proficiency as well as ecoweaving, or the practice of weaving new goods out of recycled materials. These skills give the women an opportunity to become financially stable.

“They say that ending global poverty starts with women,” says Ryan Tong, International Projects Director for the UCLA Nourish chapter. “It makes sense—the mother is the heart and soul of the family. With a strong heart, there is absolutely nothing we cannot do.” Several studies back up this logic, showing that when you educate the mother, you improve the education of the entire family.

SIFE, or Students in Free Enterprise, is a nonprofit active in 47 countries around the world. SIFE brings together a diverse network of university students, academic professionals, and industry leaders to create a better, more sustainable world through the positive power of business. SIFE students apply knowledge gained in the classroom to develop and implement projects that improve the quality of life for individuals in the community. The UCLA Nourish chapter has partnered with the SIFE chapter at the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala, a team of young entrepreneurs from diverse disciplines.

The project team is currently in Guatemala and blogging about their experiences here.

Nourish Staff at the Nexus: Global Youth Summit

July 14, 2011 | Posted in Nourish in the News, Office Updates | By

Nourish International is excited to be sending three staff members and a board member this July to the Nexus: Global Youth Summit, which is hosted in part by the United Nations. Executive Director Ryan Richards and Board Chairman Ryan Allis will speak at the conference. Chief Operating Officer Allie Treske and Chapter Coordinator Sarah Miller will be serving as volunteers.

Richards and Allis were also involved in the planning of this conference. Both spoke at a panel at the UN headquarters this past February.

The Global Youth Summit, which will take place in New York City, is hosted by the Young Donor Network as a follow-up to the first UN Meeting on Young Philanthropy. The conference will host hundreds of participants from around the world to discuss innovative philanthropy and social entrepreneurship. Goals for the event include exploring and advancing the potential of next generation leadership across nations and sectors, catalyzing young global philanthropy and social investment, and bridging communities of wealth and social entrepreneurship through dialogue, problem solving, and education.

“The Summit seeks to foster collaboration between young wealth holders who are seeking to change the world and the leaders of youth movements who are seeking to address global poverty,” says Richards. “I want to help shape the conversation and I want to learn from it. It’s going to be a great opportunity to connect with other leading peer organizations and potential funders.”

The Summit comes at the end of the UN’s International Year of Youth, which runs from August 2010-2011. The IYY aims to promote the ideals of peace, freedom, progress, and solidarity towards the promotion of youth development and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

Nourish staff are committed to staying engaged in the larger global entrepreneurship and international development movements. Check out Nourish’s involvement at similar conferences this year: the Ashoka U Exchange and the StartingBloc Institute for Social Innovation.

Summer Project Spotlight: Bamboo Forest Development in Nicaragua

July 11, 2011 | Posted in Summer Projects | By

The people of Nicaragua face multiple hardships, including poverty, housing deficits, and deforestation. There is a severe affordable housing deficit of 500,000 homes, especially in rural areas. Additionally, 68% of Nicaraguans struggle to survive on approximately US $1 per day. Contributing to this poverty level is the fact that 80% of the rural poor depend on agriculture for their livelihood, despite the land being only marginally productive. Finally, deforestation problems have grown worse, resulting in increased flooding and mudslides, a reduction in carbon sinks, and fertile land loss due to topsoil erosion.

This summer, the Arizona State University and Cornell University Nourish chapters are teaming up with nonprofit CO2Bambu to address these problems through bamboo reforestation. Locals in Rosita, Nicaragua, will be able to harvest the bamboo, which will serve as both a sustainable raw material for affordable housing and a source of income for local farmers. The bamboo will also sequester carbon from the atmosphere, creating topsoil cohesion and preventing erosion.

Bamboo Nicaragua

CO2Bambu is a nonprofit that uses renewable bamboo resources to support post-disaster reconstruction efforts and address housing deficits in Latin America and Haiti. The bamboo is used to assemble ecologically sound shelters, schools, and low-cost housing. Bamboo is a good building material because it has the same technical performance as timber, concrete, and steel constructions, but has a much lower carbon footprint. Because it is lightweight, it does not require the use of large trucks and cranes. Additionally, the natural flexibility of bamboo meets an important requirement for construction in seismic areas.

Bamboo construction

The project team is currently hard at work in Nicaragua. You can read about their experiences on their blog.

Park Foundation Gives $10,000 to Nourish

July 7, 2011 | Posted in Nourish in the News, Office Updates | By

Nourish International is excited to be the recipient of a $10,000 grant from the Park Foundation. This grant will fund the Nourish Fellowship, a program that provides Nourish chapters around the country with an increased level of support from the National Office.  We are honored to receive continued support from the Park Foundation, having received an additional 15,000 grant in December 2010.

The Park Foundation’s mission is to support scholarships in higher education, quality media that heightens public awareness of critical issues, and protection of the environment. “Nourish International is today’s intercollegiate response to today’s and tomorrow’s global needs,” says Park Foundation Trustee Bill Bondurant. “It is youthful, positive, entrepreneurial, world-conscious, educational and energizing. These are among the reasons that the Park Foundation has been happy to encourage Nourish International’s impressive growth.”

Tom Meehan was selected as the first Nourish fellow and started his position on June 20th. With his help, the National Office is increasing the number of hours every week spent providing direct training, mentorship, and support to each chapter. This is part of the National Office’s larger strategy of investing in building the capacity of the Nourish movement.

Tom Meehan

Many thanks to the Park Foundation—we are excited and honored that they continue to join us in eradicating poverty.