Lots of awesome progress from the Fundraising Team this semester. Top moment: Give To The Max Day! We surpassed our goal by raising $5,550 so a big shout out to everyone who shared about and donated to our crowdfunding page and an especially big thanks to our generous match!! The funds will be well put to use on the upcoming assessment and design stages of our projects. The Fundraising Team is wrapping up the semester by understanding our budget for the next two years and applying for grants to support it as the next semester comes around.
On the Creative Team’s side, we had an awesome time putting together the Paint Within Borders Event this last weekend. Members came in to paint a canvas mural for our space in the Civil Engineering Building and even made some creative art of their own with spare canvas!
Community Context Committee (CCC)
A new initiative we have started this year is the Community Context Committee (CCC). This is a subcommittee of our chapter dedicated to improving our projects and interactions through deeper understanding of the historical, political, and social contexts of the countries and communities EWB partners with. The CCC presents information to general project meetings and provides space for discussion and reflection. Our main project for next semester is building community profiles for our partner communities which include information about their region’s history, politics, government, language, and social norms. This comprehensive understanding of our projects’ contexts is important to consider alongside our technical data because we can build stronger projects through stronger project relationships.
Our portion of the newsletter will typically present a topic of the month that students discussed in project meetings. This month we are discussing “voluntourism”, or volunteer tourism, a form of tourism in which visitors are offered volunteer opportunities as a trip activity or when the intended purpose of the trip is to volunteer abroad. This can occur between neighborhoods in the Twin Cities or between countries across the world. This type of volunteering is complex because it has the potential to make the communities being served feel observed or deprioritized. While it may have some positive effects, exploring the extent to which the work is for the community versus for the visitor is important to understanding how our mindsets can impact our interactions subconsciously. Voluntourism has the potential to perpetuate white saviorism, the action of helping based on the idea that those being served are inferior, typically enacted by white people from Western countries in communities in South America and Africa. The work EWB does has the potential to be viewed as voluntourism and white saviorism depending on how projects are approached.
Questions we are considering include: In what ways might EWB be considered voluntourism? What are some ways EWB perpetuates and challenges white saviorism? Can EWB’s role be changed to better serve partner communities?
Below are sources for further reading if you are interested. Additionally, ideas and feedback are always welcome so please tell us about any professional connections, discussion topic ideas, or anything else on our interest form.
Further Reading: “Voluntourism” by EWB Santa Clara University, “Applying a transformative learning framework to volunteer tourism” by Alexandra Coghlan & Margaret Gooch, and “They really love me!: Intimacy in Volunteer Tourism” by Mary Conran
Spring Reception – April 23rd, 5:30pm – 8:30pm
Valentine’s Day Chapter Event – February 12th, Time TBD