BuildOn takes initiative with other communitiesPosted on September 23, 2013 | by Ritansha Jalan
Unlike most college students, Stern sophomore Sakshi Bhoolabhai busies herself far outside of the classroom in a tiny Malawian village, an opportunity granted to her through BuildOn.
BuildOn is a club at NYU that takes initiative in reducing poverty, illiteracy and low expectations in a unique way.
“Our members participate in local community service as well as community service abroad, when they travel to Third World countries to help in the construction of a school,” said Swati Mallik, the co-president and founding member of BuildOn NYU. “This experience is truly inspiring, which is why our chapter here at NYU strives to give this amazing opportunity to as many people as possible.”
Bhoolabhai, a co-president of the club, went to Malawi for 10 days to build a school.
“I don’t actually have words for it except that it was a cultural explosion,” Bhoolabhai said when asked about her experience. “I went there just with the expectation to build schools, but there were so many things that I didn’t expect.”
This cultural explosion took place the moment she reached Malawi and began to live with a local family. While making a connection was not always the easiest thing to achieve, they
succeeded despite the strong language barrier. BuildOn aims to create a complete cultural and social experience for members by creating opportunities for assimilation.
The NYU chapter is currently planning future projects. Bhoolabhai plans to organize a trip to Nepal, a nation the national BuildOn group has already fundraised money for.
“As the days progressed, I realized that communication is not restricted to language,” Bhoolabhai said. “The most important learning experience was how effective a smile is in breaking these barriers.”
While volunteering in a developing country seems like a difficult feat, it is Sakshi’s passion for assisting those in need of help that allowed her to prevail.
“[She is] an amazing citizen of the world,” said Elaine Freedgood, Bhoolabhai’s freshmen seminar professor. “I don’t know what she is not interested in.”
“You don’t just go abroad, but you go with the purpose to go to build a school and to live with the community,” Bhoolabhai said of BuildOn. “Here you’re not just learning about the culture or just providing education, but you also grow and learn so much about yourself.”
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Sept. 23 print edition. Ritansha Jalan is a contributing writer. Email her at email@example.com.