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Dignified, Human Centered Development through NDSEED

Written by: Kaci Heneghan

Dignified, human-centered development.

As a member of NDSEED, a student group who builds bridges in rural areas of Central and South American countries to connect them to opportunities outside of their communities, these words would soon start to define my junior year because of the people I have had the opportunity to work with. 25+ hours of my weekend starting October 6th was spent listening to panels, attending lectures and discussing building strategies—and I would do it all over again if I got the chance.

On Friday, NDSEED welcomed Bridges to Prosperity's (B2P) fellow university chapters for the 2017 University Conference. The gathering focused on in-field and on-campus operations in order to target every member of the university teams. Technical concerns, common project management issues, strategic planning, and community engagement were just a few of the topics discussed, as well as discussions on cross-cultural communication and standard bridge design. 

While many at the conference had already traveled internationally to work on bridge construction sites, there were plenty of educational opportunities for members who had yet to do so. Experienced members enlightened B2P members on what they could expect when they left for their first building journey. The weekend also consisted of hands-on construction workshops involving topographic surveying, fall protection, and quality control for in-country construction, giving novice members first-hand experience in different aspects of the build.

Part of the weekend included awards for different university teams, and NDSEED received the Bridge Builder Team of the Year award for the second year in a row. This award is given to a university chapter that “showed excellent performance in all aspects of their project planning and execution, as well as thorough understanding and embodiment of the mission of Bridges to Prosperity.” Having been given the award two years in a row recognizes the scrutinizing and meticulous work the past two teams have put into the execution of their bridge. The culture of NDSEED is one of excellence and the complete transfer of knowledge that occurs between teams, year after year, was recognized by this award.

Sitting amongst some of the most passionate and driven college students I have ever met sparked a fire inside every member of the NDSEED team, motivating us to continue our work of excellence and reminding us of the reason we do this work, to provide dignified human-centered development to those in need. 

University chapters:

Colorado School of Mines
Duke University
Pennsylvania State University
Rutgers University
University College London
University of Alberta
University of Colorado Boulder
University of Illinois
University of Iowa
University of Notre Dame
University of Toronto