The past few weeks have been an exciting time for us for many reasons, but one of the most exciting of our recent accomplishments is leading us into a new chapter in collaboration and friendship with the network of EWB chapters from Massachusetts and Rhode Island. On February 16, EWB-BU had the honor of hosting what we hope will be the first of many roundtable meetups between over eight EWB chapters throughout Rhode Island and Massachusetts, including Roger Williams, Tufts, Northeastern, Harvard, MIT, the Boston Professional Chapter, and more.
The roundtable included three hours of discussions and networking between students, covering a variety of different topics: membership growth and retention, finding and opening a new program, fundraising and outreach, the technical aspects of water supply projects, and creating NGO partnership. Chapters had varying levels of experience: for example, Roger Williams was newly established and has yet to find a community to partner with and UMass Lowell is currently trying to establish a chapter, whereas Northeastern and Harvard have well-established programs working in multiple countries. However, everyone had something to contribute and something to learn. Northeastern and Roger Williams both gave presentations on their own topics, and after each presentation, active discussions took place that all chapters contributed to. In fact, everybody had so much to say that discussions even ran late. The other highlight of the event was the networking lunch, a free half hour that everybody used to get to know each other and discuss their experiences in a less formal setting. In addition to being a time to exchange tips and information, the meeting was a wonderful place to form lasting friendships.
Many of the attendees had much to say about their experiences. Wali Sabuhi, EWB-BU’s Social Networking Chair and the man responsible for much of the meetup’s organization, judged that the meetup was a great success. “The turnout for the first ever roundtable was remarkable, given the harsh weather conditions and public transportation situation on the day,” he said. “It speaks to the amount of enthusiastic students and professionals there are in just this particular EWB chapter network. Chapters varied greatly in terms of their program and project statuses – several students were looking to begin a chapter or secure a program, while others were happy to deliver advice and encouragement. Along with ongoing knowledge-sharing in events similar to this first roundtable meet-up, the long-term vision for this collaboration of thirteen-plus chapters is to collectively support project and chapter development and assist each others’ goal pursuits.” A representative of the Tufts chapter stated that, “It was good at creating discussion that all of the groups were able to contribute to and learn from,” and others acknowledged it as “a great networking opportunity.”
Overall, the meetup was a huge success. Most of the chapters expressed interest in having similar meetings once or twice a semester, and many volunteered to host the next one, so we are hopeful that this is a tradition that will continue for many years. We encourage those that are interested to attend the next one, and to take advantage of this incredible learning opportunity.