Starting up a Chapter… How easy is it really?

Ask Liv! She Just opened up a Chapter at Tulane University

We are very honored to announce, we officially started a Chapter at Tulane University! This would not have been possible without Olivia Evans (Liv). Liv spent a lot of her free time throughout the past few years traveling, assisting, and studying with 7 Elements. She has been a huge part of 7 Elements and we are so grateful to have her return every year helping with a variety of projects. It is because of her dedication, she was able to start a 7e Chapter at her University in just a couple of months. Here is a short interview about how she started up a chapter so quick and how the 7e experience changed her life. If any students have any questions for Liv, please email us and we can get you in contact with her. She is a wonderful resource and mentor. Thanks Liv for being an all-star. 7 Elements appreciates everything you do!

Liv, how did you start up the Tulane chapter?
Starting 7 Elements at Tulane was something that I had planned on doing since I got here freshman year. I took a year to get settled into the college routine, and then this fall my friends Grace Marino, Emma Scott, and I (all 7e participants to previous Dominican Republic and Peru projects) decided we would take the next steps to get the chapter going.

What was the process?
We first completed the 7 Elements portion of the chapter application, which allowed us to find a chapter advisor and an initial twelve members by networking in our classes. All of us were able to reflect on what our 7e experiences meant to us. Then we completed the Tulane application for a new student organization. We answered several short answer questions about the purpose of our organization and created a chapter constitution of our bylaws. When our application went through, we were required to sit in front of a panel of an Undergraduate Student Government committee for a hearing where we made our case about why 7e should be recognized as an official organization at Tulane. Just over a month later, on November 27th, we heard that we were approved.

What can you recommend?
Use your resources! If there’s a department at your school that fits particularly well with the 7e model, use that to your advantage. Chances are there are lots of experienced faculty members that can offer you valuable guidance. Network in classes in those departments to find members, too. Above all, be passionate. People are more inclined to give you the tools you need if they see that something means a lot to you.

What were the challenges?
Our main challenge was making sure we stressed how unique the 7 Elements model and curriculum is. We had to explain the specific aspects of 7e that make it different than anything else. No one else does what 7e’s does and we needed to show that.

Why did you start the Tulane Chapter?     
7 Elements at Tulane is a way that I can bridge two worlds. Sometimes working in the international development field can mean “living between worlds” in order to be as productive as possible. With the chapter, I’m able to voice the importance of development issues to the university, educating others about things I’ve become incredibly passionate about and allowing them a similar experience through 7e service initiatives abroad.

Now that the Tulane 7e Chapter is official, what’s next?
We are currently a provisional student organization at Tulane, therefore we will continue recruiting into the next semester and beyond. We hope for our first 7e trip to be within the next calendar year, if not early 2018 when we receive active status from the university.

How can students attending Tulane become involved?
If you’re a Tulane student and you’re interested in getting involved with 7 Elements, you can sign up for email alerts on our OrgSync page, or find us at the Spring Activities Expo next semester! You can also contact me directly with any specific questions.

Who is Liv?

How did you get linked up with 7e?
I came to the Dominican Republic through a 21-day program on Human Security host by 7Elements between my junior and senior years of high school. There I became incredibly passionate about development. After that amazing experience, I stayed in touch with the staff there and got engaged in projects and other work with them for the past few years.

What kinds of projects have done with 7e?
The first project I did was a continuation of a water filter initiative started by Sarah Stubbs. In my senior year of high school I was co-president of my student council, and we raised $7,500 to provide water filters to Dominican families, and I brought a group from my high school in March 2015 to begin distribution. Summer of 2015, I spent seven weeks finishing that distribution and serving as a junior mentor for the high school groups coming in. I returned the following spring break and, the following summer, was lucky enough to work on the pilot program to Peru. I created a comprehensive intervention guide as we transitioned the water filter project to the context of the indigenous communities of the Peruvian Amazon. Later that summer I worked in the DR again, where I continued working with the high school students on Human Security programs.

What is your major in school?
I’m majoring in both international development and public health with a Spanish minor.

Who do you look up to?
My “academic idol,” as I say, is Dr. Paul Farmer, an infectious disease specialist that works in Haiti and other countries with his organization Partners in Health. I was really inspired to go into this field based on my experience and his biography Mountains Beyond Mountains. I also love his speech from the 2003 Harvard Class Day, “If You Take the Red Pill.” I find what he has to say about development and public health both inspiring and honest, but he takes an academic approach to it that reminds me how important it is to have a comprehensive understanding supplemented by an innate desire to do good.

What are you passionate about?
The part of development I’m most passionate about is our responsibility to do development well. It is not enough to think that just because we are privileged enough to travel gives us a skillset or knowledge that makes us qualified to solve the problems of the developing world. It is up to us to evaluate what we’re doing and understand that our effects are not always entirely positive. The prospect of “changing the world” takes a lot of work, and we need to be sure that in this development space our good intentions translate to truly sustainable, effective interventions and initiatives.

How has 7e helped you with your goals?
7 Elements has given me practical experience to complement my studies. I think that in this space especially, it is incredibly important that studying the course material is paired with relevant field experience. Not only have I been able to learn about development from the inside, but I’ve also been able to teach others’ about it through mentoring and presentations at schools. I could not be more thankful for all the opportunities 7 Elements has given me to learn, grow, and make real change in the world.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
My ultimate goal is to be a program evaluator to gauge the effectiveness of NGO interventions in development and public health. I would love to be an internal evaluator for smaller NGOs both internationally and domestically before moving on to join the evaluation team at a government organization like USAID.

Thank you Liv, good luck for your brilliant future and for your efforts to help us in our projects.