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From UNB to Zambia

Most students see their summer break as a chance to relax or make some pocket money. For Caroline MacIsaac, this summer will be an opportunity to make a difference in a developing country. She’ll be heading to the African nation of Zambia for four months this summer on behalf of the UNB branch of international non-governmental organization Engineers Without Borders (EWB).

Engineers Without Borders is a loosely affiliated, largely student-led international movement dedicated to international development in disadvantaged communities throughout the world. UNB’s chapter sends one or two Junior Fellows abroad each year to various African nations to aid in local infrastructure projects.

Once there, MacIsaac will be working with Business Development Services Africa (BDSA), an independent management and technical advisory venture funded by EWB Canada.

“Every year the projects are different so I’m not sure what project I’ll be assigned,” MacIsaac said. “I’m really excited about my placement because it will be working within another culture and will show me the different ways services are provided in other countries.”

A native of New Glasgow, N.S., the second-year Renaissance College student has a passion for international development.

“A big deciding factor for me coming to UNB was [Renaissance College] and the leadership and travel opportunities that were offered with the program,” she said.

EWB’s main priorities on the world stage are sustainable change and human rights — priorities that MacIsaac also shares, which led her to get involved with EWB this past October.

“I wanted to become involved in an organization that shared that passion,” she said. “I was chosen to be a preselected fellow which meant that in February, along with [junior fellows] across the country, I would apply to the individual ventures that EWB works with throughout Malawi, Ghana and Zambia. Shortly following these interviews, I was fortunate enough to receive a placement.”

Of course, sending students overseas isn’t cheap, and fundraising is an essential part of how non-governmental organizations operate. Laura Shaw of Engineers Without Borders UNB is hoping to see a big turnout for their fundraising gala on Saturday, March 21.

“This gala is going to feature speakers on topics surrounding engineering in a globalized world, and provide a networking opportunity for students to meet with industry professionals,” she said. “I love working with EWB because we focus on fixing systems, not fixing things.”

For MacIsaac, the work EWB does makes a real difference in the world.

“EWB never just assumes it knows what people need and it works to provide people with the tools to be independent,” she said. “I also appreciate EWB because it produces an annual failure report. I see this as a way of being more transparent than many organizations out there.”

Tickets for the EWB UNB Gala are $10 for students, and can be purchased in the Head Hall Lobby or directly from Laura Shaw at laurashaw@ewb.ca.

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