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Spotlight: UC Haiti Initiative

UC Students Form UC Haiti Initiative to Coordinate and Strengthen Campus Efforts

The UC Haiti Initiative is an innovative systemwide organization developed by students in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake in Haiti in January 2010. The three co-founders, UC Berkeley undergraduate students Tu Tran and Will Smelko and UCSB graduate student Nicolas Alberto Pascal, realized that students at all 10 campuses were looking for ways to get help to Haiti but each campus was working independently and efforts were not coordinated. They decided to establish UC Haiti with the goal of bringing students, faculty, staff and alumni together to create a 10-campus program to complete development projects that impact the life and health of Haitians. Focusing on capacity building, UC Haiti will also involve students and educators and train them how to do systems-based community development. According to Pascal, one primary goal is to “work on a peer-to-peer basis, serving Haitian counterparts and UC students. We strive to do impactful, action-oriented work.”

The UC-Haiti Initiative offers UC students the opportunity to learn outside the classroom and give researchers a chance to study the unique conditions that are influencing the recovery process. These efforts will enhance reconstruction and development through education, research and service and will be focused on six sectors:

  1. Agriculture and Food Security
  2. Architecture, Engineering and Technology
  3. Arts, History and Culture
  4. Economics and Law
  5. Education and Psychosocial
  6. Health and Healthcare

These sectors are working across disciplines in thriving campus-based chapters.

“Listening to out Haitian peers is key,” says Pascal. “Working with both UC and Haitian partners, we hope to pull together a curriculum that will support the infrastructure of our Haitian partners and contributes to their capacity building potential.”

Visit UC Haiti Initative for more information on UC Haiti and its campus-specific programs or to get involved.