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FSD empowers students

Letter to the Editor | Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Apathy toward global issues critically affects college campuses across the nation. Students attempt to expand their understanding of the world by studying abroad in other developed countries, but frequently end up spending social time amongst fellow Americans. This all-too-common experience fails to deliver an understanding of the factors that result in poverty for almost half of the world’s population in ways that outreach programs such as the Foundation for Sustainable Development (FSD) can. Without students seeing the reality of the developing world, is there truly any wonder why they suffer from apathy?

Fortunately, an increasing number of universities are working to tackle global poverty by sending their students abroad to intern and volunteer with underserved communities. The recently-opened Blum Center for Developing Economies at the University of California at Berkeley is one example of a prominent school using faculty, students and immense resources to implement projects in developing countries. It joins a growing list of schools like Stanford, Northwestern, Princeton, Notre Dame and many others that are shifting their students away from traditional study abroad programs and toward active engagement in the developing world.

“Colleges are slowly responding to a growing number of students who want the resume builders and skills needed to enter a very competitive job market. If one expects to work in a global profession like international development, he must have active experience abroad. Study abroad doesn’t deliver enough experience,” says Alex Michel, Outreach Director of FSD. FSD provides students with hands-on training and project implementation with almost 200 grassroots development organizations in Latin America, East Africa and India.

Participants in their programs often gain college credit for their internships, but most importantly, they gain experience and the relationships that allow for entry into a challenging career field. Their internship program involves students and professionals being trained and given the opportunity to collaboratively design and implement projects that are funded directly by FSD.

Fundamental to FSD’s development philosophy is intense cultural immersion and ensuring that all funded projects respond to community needs and avoid imposing western ideals on developing communities. To find out more, please visit www.fsdinternational.org

Josh Schellenberg

public relations coordinator, FSD

San Francisco, Calif.

March 7