BUILD Latin America is a student-led organization that immerses students in the theory and practice of sustainable development in Latin America. Throughout the year, students collaborate with organizations in Latin America that strive to promote sustainable development in the region. BUILD members serve as year-long student consultants, working with organizations to support their marketing, outreach, website development, and fundraising efforts. This year, each BUILD member will work with one of our three partner organizations: Human Connections, Escalera, and La Comunidad que Construimos. This experience will provide BUILD students with invaluable skills for working in the field of international development while giving them the opportunity to further the goals of our partner organizations in Latin America.
Throughout the year, BUILD members also engage in group discussions, participate in skill-building workshops, lead presentations, and invite speakers who have experience in the field of international development. Members also have the opportunity to intern with an organization in Latin America during the summer or to go on educational trips (last year, a microfinance workshop in Mexico) during the holidays. In the past, BUILD members have worked with a variety of organizations in the economic, health, environment, and education sector within Latin America during the summers.
History of BUILD Latin America
For its first six years (2002-2008), BUILD participants spent a semester learning about international development, cross-cultural exchange, and the history and politics of Nicaragua before spending their winter break working in the field with the community. In 2008, BUILD shifted its work from Nicaragua to a project in Santa Anita, Guatemala that focused on income generation, sustainable agriculture, computer learning, and eco-tourism. BUILD's work in Guatemala culminated in a viable fair-trade social enterprise selling coffee that can be read about at the IGL Archives here. In 2013, BUILD returned to Nicaragua, this time following an internship structure, giving students the opportunity to coordinate their academic interests and capabilities with the various projects implemented by our various NGO partners in the Matagalpa-Jinotega region of Nicaragua. In 2014, BUILD shifted its focus to include all of Latin America. During the year, students enhanced their understanding of development in the region by hosting discussions and inviting speakers, and in the summer students interned with a variety of organizations in Latin America. Beginning in 2015, BUILD adopted a new model in which members serve as student consultants, working remotely with three development organizations in Latin America.
There is no standard profile of a BUILD: Latin America student. We integrate undergraduates from diverse majors within the liberal arts and other schools, combining methodologies and analytical approaches from engineering, anthropological, political, economic, literary, cultural and medical perspectives. Regardless of career path, all BUILD students are motivated to learn through practice in sustainable development, understand that their work is high stakes, and prepare themselves to use sensitive and innovative methods to effect sustainable growth in the developing world.
To get involved with BUILD: Latin America, contact one of our group leaders or plan to come to an early-semester general interest meeting.