2015-2016 MCN Fellow | Undergraduate University: Boston University | Engineers Without Borders at BU
Like millions of freshmen across the United States, Wali entered university wanting to make a local difference and eagerly sought opportunities to expand and develop his skills and interest. He joined Engineers Without Borders (EWB) during his freshman year at Boston University in the hopes to apply the skills of the classroom to real world issues. But he didn't anticipate how much EWB would impact his undergraduate experience and understanding of global development.
Wali became more involved with EWB BU throughout his time at BU. He served as a Hygiene & Sanitation Team Technical Lead and is currently the Networking & Social Chair. Driven by student initiatives and inspired by the complexity of global development, Wali is committed to contributing to the UN’s Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Through support from BU College of Engineering and corporate sponsors, EWB BU was able to employ small teams of students to travel to their community partners abroad and help implement project designs. For the past four years, EWB BU has been working closely with Naluja, a community in Zambia, on developing projects that have recently begun focusing on water sustainability. Wali was a member of the team last summer and spent three weeks in rural Zambia.
It was in Zambia, traveling through the rural communities, that Wali discovered that there is more to EWB than just being a great engineer. It is of equal importance that EWB cultivates partnerships and makes sure that locally driven motivation are fostered to ensure sustainability and long-term efficacy.
EWB BU students worked throughout the calendar year to create, plan, and design successful projects for their partnering community in Zambia. During the twelve months in Boston, there was a major emphasis on building leadership, broadening students' horizons, working across disciplines, and sharing resources throughout the project development process. But through the stress and chaos of college life, it was sometimes difficult to see the bigger picture of their organization. In Zambia, however, "everything you have worked toward is right there in front of you.” Wali wanted to bring that reflection, appreciation, and tremendous purpose that he felt in Zambia back to BU’s campus.
Wali's work with EWB BU and time in Zambia encouraged him to pursue a career in global development. He particularly showed interest in global health and progress toward achieving the SDGs. He says, “in 15 years, we [university students] will be the professionals playing pivotal parts in global development, whether it be through technology, advocacy, or policy.” MCN could not agree more- investing in college students today is essential for creating a more equitable world tomorrow.
Community ownership is very important to EWB BU. They are committed to ensuring that their projects are not only wanted by the community, but also feasible in rural Zambia. EWB-BU is dedicated to valuing projects as a shared initiative and collaboration between its students and the members of Naluja.
Cultural Exchange: During Wali’s time in Zambia, he was able to interact with the chapter’s partners is Zambia. He remembers a nurse at the maternal health clinic who he describes as the most “inspirational person [he’s] met.” Wali is always excited and passionate about sharing his experience in Zambia with other MCN fellows and peers at EWB BU. His experiences in Zambia have not only created inspiration but have also educated the EWB community on the importance of its projects and how they can be optimized for positive impact.
Sustainability of projects is very important to EWB BU. After EWB BU recently received a corporate sponsorship from Boeing (the second corporate grant awarded to the chapter), Wali is excited to work on growing EWB BU. He plans to do so by expanding water-related projects, solidifying local contacts, and empowering local change-makers to monitor projects. Wali and EWB BU have set no ceiling to the chapter’s goals and continue to create bigger impact plans.
For more information about BU EWB and how to donate, visit EWB BU's website