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We are very excited to work with these groups in planning their engagement projects this year. Please read below and continue to check back with these ongoing projects.

Supported Winter Break Civic Engagement Projects

Engineers Without Borders

Obodan, Ghana
January 2nd - 19th, 2014
Project Leader: Michael Escobar

EWB has worked with Obodan since 2005 developing sanitation and water access solutions. This project returned to monitor the water storage and distribution systems put in place during the Summer 2013 visit. EWB assessed the sustainability of their project while and gauged possibilities for another project to be initiated in Obodan. Learn more about their project on the EWB Obodan website.

Engineers Without Borders

Aboiboi, Angole, Sugur, Okidi communities in Soroti, Uganda
January 2nd - 19th, 2014
Project Leaders: Will Van Noppen, Halvard Lange

EWB's Uganda program implemented a Multi-function Energy Platform (MFP) pilot program in January. Working with Pilgrim, a Ugandan NGO, EWB has set up eight MFPs in eight different communities in the Soroti district since 2009, and continued the relationship with this latest implementation. MFPs are mechanized farming approaches to increase community access to affordable energy and thus increases food security.

Engineers Without Borders

Ait Bayoud, Morocco
January 4th - 18th, 2014
Project Leaders: Tim Weber, Andrew Sumner

EWB implemented an efficient water distribution system in the small neighborhood of Izgaouaren. The system will provide a reliable and sustainable source of water to the community, which is 350 feet above the nearby river. EWB worked with various local authorities and organizations to design the distribution system.

Supported Spring Break Civic Engagement Projects

Gender Equality: Ecuador (GEQUA)

Picalqui, Ecuador
March 14th - 23rd, 2014
Project Leaders: Bianca Capone, Reyna Pacheco

Service is very important, but identifying why people are interested in service on the Columbia campus is also a big part of what GEQUA does. They believe it is important to critically engage with issues that are larger than just your surrounding community. Service is an exchange and GEQUA hopes to not only give to the community of Picalqui but to take what they learn and bring it back to the Columbia community. The team hopes to impart a greater awareness of computer literacy in the Picalqui community. They would like to grow as individuals and as a team, share their experience in Ecuador, and redefine their role across international borders.

Habitat for Humanity

Lafayette, Louisiana
March 15th - 22nd, 2014
Project Leaders: Julia Peck, Patrick Taylor

The Columbia chapter is partnering with Lafayette Habitat for Humanity to expand their volunteer base and build three houses from scratch during their week in Louisiana. Julia said that as the project leader last year, she learned a lot from the Lafayette community and the HFH team is excited to continue their partnership. Over the course of the week, the HFH team will build three houses with three families who have never owned their own homes before. They will also be working with Lafayette chapter to lay the groundwork for them to expand their volunteer network. They will also be having a panel on affordable housing and sustainability.

Caribbean Students' Association

Dennery, St. Lucia
March 15th - 23rd, 2014
Project Leaders: Sashanni Rose, Kachenta Descartes

CSA will continue its There is Hope campaign to encourage lasting academic engagement for secondary school-aged students. This will be the fifth year of the “There is Hope” campaign, and the group is looking forward to assessing the progress they’ve made in the past few years. Kachenta is from the island, and she said that her contacts on the island have helped her with the development and planning stages of the project. During spring break, the CSA group will be teaching workshops at a primary school about identity, sustainability, skills for future success, and college readiness. They will also be meeting the ministry of education at Saint Lucia, and the week will end with a tour for the children to visit the university on the island.

Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards (SAMS)

Appalachia, Virginia
March 15th - 23rd, 2014
Project Leaders: Deborah Secular, Daniel Bergerson

The Barnard-Columbia Mountain Stewards will travel to rural Southern Virginia to perform water quality testing in watersheds affected by pollution from coal mining operations such as mountaintop removal. The data collected will help ongoing citizen efforts to use existing federal water quality laws to prevent the permitting of new mines. They will meet members of the community in Appalachia, Virginia and learn how their lives have been affected by the mining operations that surround their community. The team hopes to succeed in collecting a significant amount of data to add to the data-base that provides information that will help regulate the process of mountain top removal mining in Appalachia. Learn more on Barnard-Columbia SAMS' website.

Supported Summer Break Civic Engagement Projects


May 19th - 30th, 2014
Project Leaders: Sarah Green, Ahana Maken

Columbia-Barnard's buildOn project this year is "Trek for Knowledge," for which the participants will raise funds to help build a primary school in rural Senegal and serve as cultural ambassadors who will help promote literacy in the country.

Unite for Sight

Accra, Ghana
May 24th - June 2nd, 2014
Project Leaders: Alexandra Castillejos, Deandrea Ellis

Columbia's chapter of Unite for Sight will work with Ghanian ophthalmologists to provide quality eye care and sanitary services to impoverished areas of Accra. The team will explore the health infrastructure of Ghana and aims to begin the conversation of global health for Yale's annual Global Health and Innovation Conference next year.


Gulu, Uganda
June 15th - July 15th, 2014
Project Leaders: Diane Wang, Mariko Kanai

The current project, initiated by last year's GROW (Grassroots On-site Work) members, will assess service previously implemented by GlobeMed. The team will also be raising HIV awareness and sensitization; promoting maternal and newborn health; and supporting nearby health facilities with equipment. The campaigns have been in place in Gulu over the course of the last year, and GlobeMed's team will be evaluating the progress and reassessing the needs of the local community. For more information and to learn about their past projects, check out GlobeMed's Columbia Chapter website and their WordPress blog.


Shanghai & Beijing, China
July 10th - August 15th, 2014
Project Leaders: Shen Qiu and Qiuyun Tan

The 32 participants will work with the Columbia Global Center to plan Western literature seminars--modeled after Columbia's Literature Humanities course--for Chinese high school and college students. The education system in China is very rigid and science-focused, and Symposium hopes to expose the students to classes structured around discussion and critical thinking. They will report their experiences  next fall in a panel to be co-sponsored by Core Office, Weatherhead East Asian Institute, and Teachers College.

Global Youth Mentorship Initiative (GYMI)

Quzhou, Zhejiang, China; Lu An, Anhui, China; Zi Gong, Sichuan, China
TBD July 15 - August 25.
Project Leader: Christine Wang

The organization has selected three schools in rural areas of China where the regimented curriculum leaves little opportunity for extracurricular pursuits. The members will provide mentorship to the students in hopes of addressing the educational gap between schools with many resources and those with fewer. GYMI aims to teach technological and artistic skills to the students during their stay, and implement an online mentoring system to continue their influence after the project ends. Learn more about the mission on the GYMI website.


Zuni Pueblo, Pine Hill, To'hajiilee, Isleta Pueblo, New Mexico
July 26th - August 10th, 2014
Danielle Lucero

AlterNATIVE Education is the first peer-education and mentorship initiative aimed at bridging the gap between Native American high school students and us as Native College students (80% of AlterNATIVE Facilitators were Native in its pilot year).We have developed a week-long curriculum aimed at engaging students with Native histories, Native governments, Native arts and Native current events, topics that are not talked about often enough in the classroom; empowering Native students as community members, as individuals, as agents of change; and finally, encouraging Native students to seriously consider pursuing higher education through long-term mentorship.
In the summer of 2013 AlterNATIVE Education had the opportunity to take that curriculum into the classroom. We piloted the program on four Native American Reservations in New Mexico. The week long program will take places at 5 sites over two weeks. The sites are Zuni Pueblo and Pine Hill and Farmington during week one and To’hajiilee and
Isleta Pueblo during week two.

Alternative Break Program


515 Alfred Lerner Hall
2920 Broadway
New York, NY 10027

Call: 212-854-1371

9:00 a.m.–5:00p.m.