CollegeCorps—the brainchild of Hani N. Elias ’06 and Adam Kalamchi ’06— opened officially this September.
Coordinating internships in regions like Latin America, Africa, Southeast Asia and the Middle East, CollegeCorps offers students destinations notably different from more traditional, university-sponsored study-abroad programs.
“We really hope to make students informed about international development,” explained Elias. “The hands-on work that relates to that is very different from just sitting in a classroom in Europe.”
In contrast with more academically-focused travel programs, CollegeCorps emphasizes volunteer service and cultural experience, goals in keeping with one of its primary supporters, the United Nations Development Program.
Elias and Kalamchi have been planning the organization for almost a year, after taking an eye-opening class on international development.
The pair found themselves searching for ways to get involved in development work, but faced the problem of too few fellowships and job opportunities for undergraduates.
“Between airfare and lodging, a lot of these programs cost up to $5000,” said Kalamchi. “For an undergraduate, that’s a huge financial barrier.”
Money wasn’t the only obstacle.
“We also found also an organizational barrier,” Kalamchi said. “There were a lot of organizations out there, each with its own coordinators and materials. Out of this came an idea to create one organization to alleviate these two problems.”
The twin barriers of money and organization, according to Kalamchi, are fairly widespread.
“I’m not sure if any of the obstacles are specific to Harvard,” he explained. “At many institutions, the prevailing attitude of students is that one must graduate in four years, and so the determining factor in deciding whether to travel abroad becomes whether you can receive credit for your experience.”
Elias and Kalamchi also hope to extend a greater partnership with Harvard. Supplemental training programs at the Kennedy School of Government for CollegeCorps participants are already planned for this spring.
One or two nights a week, students will work with Peace Corps volunteers and KSG professors to develop knowledge and skills needed for work in international development.
Applications for this summer’s programs are due by Jan. 5. This year, CollegeCorps is only accepting applicants who are enrolled as full-time students at accredited colleges or universities in the Boston area. More information about the organization can be found at www.thecollegecorps.org.
Elias is optimistic about his organization’s future. “We’re finding more and more ways we can cooperate with Harvard,” he said.