Nourishing students, nourishing communities

By Bianca Pichamuthu '16, Staff Photographer

By Bianca Pichamuthu ’16, Staff Photographer

Nourish International organization continues to grow at Wellesley

By MARIANA ZEPEDA ’14

Online Editor

When SaeBom Choi ’14 first heard about Nourish International, she had just returned from an MIT Development Lab (D-Lab) trip to Tanzania. She read about the organization in a newsletter from the Sociology Department. Having just had an amazing experience abroad, she decided to found a chapter in Wellesley.

“At the time, Nourish was looking for new chapters to join its movement to alleviate global poverty,” Choi said. “After my own trip, I wished more Wellesley students could have similar field experiences in international development as well as in entrepreneurial activities.”

Nourish International is a student-led organization that works to partner college students with different communities around the world in order to work towards the overall goal of lessening global poverty through small-scale, community based projects.

During the spring of 2013, Choi got in touch with a group of six other Wellesley students and applied to found a chapter of Nourish International at Wellesley. After being interviewed by representatives of the organization, Choi was approved to found a chapter. She travelled to the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill for the Nourish International Summer Institute, where she spent five days at the summer conference learning about the organization’s methods and plan of action.

The chapter’s goals are twofold.  First, Choi and the rest of the students had to organize  on-campus ventures to earn money to sustain themselves as an organization and eventually to fund their future plans.

“During the fall semester, the founding members and I recruited new members, and in late October, we finally launched our venture, Munch,” Choi said. Through Munch, members of the organization sell food from different venues on campus, including dorms or the Science Center late in the evenings. They’ve also conducted side ventures, where they’ve partnered with other organizations and sold food to late night parties or events, most recently Slater International’s Bollywood Night at the pub.

Chapters at different schools, now 45 in total, form long term partnerships with community organizations abroad and work to help furnish a community with a specific need that they have.

Choi graduated in December and Manjot Nagyal ’17 and Johana Mata ’17 have since taken the reins as the current co-chapter leaders.

“Now that our chapter is settled down on campus, our overall goal is really to scale-up our venture and our impact,” Choi said. “We are hoping more Wellesley students participate in our movement so that we can generate more financial resources to send more students abroad and make greater impact on places where any help is needed.” Choi is excited to see how the chapter continues growing over the years.

Nourish has partnered with Wake Forest University to support the Mira Foundation in southern India in hopes of jointly developing a project that will make a lasting impact.

“We’re planning a trip to India over the summer to help women and children with AIDS or HIV, plant a community garden and educate them about sexual health and hygiene,” Nagyal said. “Once we leave, the garden will continue and the money that they are able to profit off that garden will continue. So, it’ll hopefully have a very long lasting impact on the community.”

Nagyal and Mata are both excited about working with the Mira Foundation for the next two years and about their trip to India over the summer.

Their short term goals include continuing their fundraising efforts on campus and sharpening their entrepreneurial skills as they continue to lead successful business ventures via Munch.

They continue to get support from Nourish International on their projects. “We talk to our mentor every week about what’s going on in the club and how we can improve it. She gives us comments about what other chapters are doing and how we can use them as part of our process,” Nagyal said.

Though Nourish currently subsists on support from the organization, e-board members hope to soon rely on the College for some degree of funding.

“We’re hoping by next semester, we’ll be constituted and have official recognition since we are such a different organization,” Nagyal said.

Both Mata and Nagyal remain as enthusiastic about the organization as when they first heard about it and hope it continues to grow and attract more students through the years.

The distinct structure of this organization allows students to contribute to projects abroad in more ways than one and to learn the intricacies of fundraising for a project of this magnitude.

“This was something I’ve never heard before. You can really have an impact on both sides. Where you’re abroad helping directly as well as here on campus, where you’re raising the money and helping indirectly,” Mata said.

Nourish holds meetings every week on Sundays from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Their meeting are open and both Nagyal and Mata encourage anyone who might be interested to drop by.

“This is a really time consuming organization, it’s true, but it’s really worth it,” said Mata. “You make friends, you get to help people and you also get to take a trip to another country that you might not be able to visit otherwise.”

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