The Council for International Development, a student-run organization aimed to unite the broad variety of student initiatives regarding international development, has taken an active role on campus since its inception in Winter Quarter 2013.
“[In summer 2012,] I had recently become friends with a lot of people who were high-ups in various… international development clubs,” said active member and fourth-year civil engineering major Imaan Taghavi. “I wanted to do a formal for my own club, Engineers Without Borders, and I realized, why not do it with some of these other clubs and have this joint venture where all these clubs can come together?”
Early on, Taghavi realized there was a strong need at UC Davis for a forum in which international development clubs could interact with each other. After interacting with these other organizations on campus, Taghavi noticed a lack of interest among students in collaborating with organizations similar to their own.
Since its inception, the Council for International Development has put on two fundraising events, each called a Formal Without Borders, and is currently planning for their third formal on Oct. 25. All proceeds from the formals go toward charities in developing countries and international work initiatives led by UC Davis students.
The first formal, held at the International House, hosted over 250 guests to take part in fundraising and raising awareness, while enjoying international dance music. Although this was originally planned to be a one-time event, its success encouraged clubs to continue making it happen.
Third-year environmental toxicology major and MEDLIFE representative Krisha Yadav-Ranjan also helped Taghavi with creating the council. Specifically, Yadav-Ranjan pitched the idea of an international development journal to give undergraduate students research experience.
When the small council was formed, various leaders from international development clubs met to discuss issues in developing economies. To spur conversation and engage with the students, Liliane Larson, executive director of the UC Davis Blum Center for Developing Economies, attended some of these meetings.
“We’ve met a lot with the Blum Center and they’ve been very supportive of Council for International Development,” Yadav-Ranjan said.
Though the council has been steadily growing since its start last year, Taghavi sees much bigger goals for its future.
“One of Chancellor Katehi’s goals was the 2020 plan. In the next five [years] she wants 50 percent of UC Davis students to have an international experience — that’s huge, but the council and what the council does could be directly involved in making that happen,” Taghavi said. “First we want the formal to gain legitimacy. I want to see Formal Without Borders [reach] the level of Picnic Day, the Buzz [and] all these campus events.”
Fourth-year environmental science major Amit Aggarwal, who worked on the first two formals and was active in helping to create the group, feels strongly about the continuation and growth of the council.
“I probably won’t see the vision realized [to its] full extent while I’m here, because I’ll be gone in a year, but my sister might go here next year,” Aggarwal said. “I hope that by the time she’s here she will get to be a part of this community that has already been built for her.”
Ultimately, the goal of the council transcends the creation of fundraising events or online forums, focusing on service and community building in developing countries.
“…We try to provide the technology or supplies based on what the community thinks they need,” Taghavi said. “This is a very fast-shifting field. The goal is that we create a space for that dialogue at the university level in hope that students will take what they learned into their own initiatives as professionals.”