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Club focuses on international development

Katie Peralta | Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Ask questions, find answers, change the world. This task is ambitious, but one that the International Development Research Council (IDRC), a new student-created and student-run organization, hopes to accomplish through outreach to students of all backgrounds and majors.

The club aims to promote awareness of international development as well as extreme poverty through a multi-disciplinary lens, Catherine Reidy, IDRC press secretary, said.
Issues must be examined, Reidy said, through a business-economic standpoint, for example, as well as a psychological one.

“Future doctors have to talk with future economists; future engineers with future anthropologists; future philosophers with future politicians — the list goes on,” Paul Jindra, co-president and founder of IDRC, said.

Jindra, a senior who majors in economics and history, saw the need for such a group at the University and an ample opportunity for undergraduate dialogue about development issues.

“I’ve worked on development concerns across four continents, and have seen firsthand that there’s no easy answer to the question of poverty,” he said. “If we want to make a dent, we have to talk to one another, support one another, learn from one another.  
“That was the vision I had for IDRC: a place where students could come together and take real steps to become better, more effective agents of change.”

Reidy said it is critical especially to educate the young people of today to become the future world leaders of tomorrow.

“Our generation [will play] a huge role in the alleviation of poverty,” she said.

Reidy, a freshman who wants to major in psychology and anthropology, said she found out about the group at last semester’s Activities Night. Interested in human trafficking issues, she plans to study abroad in India or Thailand.

Study abroad through the Office of International Studies and research grants, she said, is an experience the club works hard to promote.

“With every effort we make to send kids abroad, we will have some kind of awareness event to promote overseas study,” Reidy said.

The group is divided into five working groups, she said, that focus on issues in their own specific region.

The regions include Africa, East and Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East and Central and South Asia and Russia and Eastern and Southern Europe, Reidy said.

“[Each group is comprised of] people passionate and knowledgeable about their respective region,” she said. “The group leaders have a tie in with each region.”

IDRC officers plan to spread the word about the group’s mission as well as increase membership over the next coming weeks.

“We’re pushing harder for new members right now, because last semester helped us not only to pinpoint our identity as a group, but also to see that we can do a lot to help students accomplish their goals and make a difference in the world,” Jindra said.

Membership has grown, he said, from about 20 members in its inception in September to around 50 now.

Jindra said the group could be a valuable asset especially to students now who are looking for grants, internships and scholarships, as many such deadlines are fast approaching.

“We consider research, internships, academic work and service work all great ways of experiencing the world and learning more about international development,” he said.

IDRC will hold an informational meeting today at 7 p.m. in 126 DeBartolo Hall. Students from all majors are welcome to attend.