January, 2011

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Spring 2011

If you’re new to HPSD this semester, check out this very comprehensive guide to what we do!


We’re really excited to have you on board. This e-mail should have more information about HPSD — its mission, its organization, and its programs. There is a ton of info in here, but most importantly take a look at the committees (down at the bottom) to see if you want to get involved in one!! And feel free to contact us with any questions.

History: HPSD was founded in the fall of 2006 by Eric Meyerowitz ’10 and Toby Norman ’10. The idea was to create a student group that not only talked about development but took action, and took action in a way that was community-based, rigorous, and responsible. The group was formed based around a partnership Eric had established with the community of el Limon, Nicaragua. This is where the core of our work has taken place to this point, but we are rapidly expanding into other areas while maintaining our partnership in Nicaragua.

Philosophy: Our mission is “taking action to reduce poverty in partnership with communities.” We take a holistic approach to development, looking at everything from global health to microfinance to international education, human rights, and much much more. We focus on building long-term relationships based on solidarity and reciprocity with the people with whom we work.

Current Structure: We currently have roughly 30 active general members led by an 9 person executive board. Our board meets Monday nights at 9pm, and all members are invited and encouraged to attend if they are interested. Elections for the next Executive Board will be held in early March. Our general meetings begin with a 20 minute content piece discussion, and 20 minutes of committee work.

Weekly Meetings: Our weekly meetings are 2pm on Sundays in Lamont Forum Room. They are based on “content pieces.” These are group discussions led by any member of the group, on basically any aspect of development. The more controversial the topic the better, but nearly anything development-related is game. We are ALWAYS looking for people to lead content pieces, so if you have any suggestions for topics or would like to lead (or help lead with the assistance of another member), let us know! Contact Matt for that (mcmulroy@fas.harvard.edu)

Campus Events: On campus we host a variety of events, some that are focused on the internal group and some that are campus-wide.

  • Workshops: We usually have a few workshops each semester, where HPSD as a group meets with someone who works in development. Past workshops have featured Jeff Sachs and Jim Kim, and more commonly draw on Harvard faculty or Boston-area NGOs. These are great opportunities to have an intimate discussion with someone very experienced in the field of international development.
  • ISPS Trainings: Eric and Devin lead interactive workshops designed to train people doing fieldwork in the developing world how to build sustainable relationships/projects with communities. There will be 4 trainings this semester and HPSD members, especially those who will be working in developing countries this summer, are *highly* encouraged to attend.
  • Forums: We host an annual campus-wide forum on a specific development issue. Past guests have included Michael Chu speaking on microfinance and Dr. Nicholas de Torrente (former Exec Director of Doctors without Borders) and Howard Zucker of the WHO speaking on “Recession-Era Global Health.”
  • Conferences: This fall we hosted our first conference called “Stories from the Field: Perspectives on International Development” featuring a luncheon with experts who work in international development and post-lunch workshops
  • Local Service Projects: A few times per semester we volunteer in the community. Projects have included local Habitat builds, serving dinner at Rosie’s place, and volunteering at Harvard Square  Homeless Shelter
  • Socials!

We are always open to new ideas for campus events, so if you have ideas for new events or speakers, have some awesome connections to speakers, or would just like to help planning, contact Angela (aqchen@fas) or Min (minlee@college).

Committees: The best way to start getting involved in HPSD is to join a committee.

  • ISPS (International Service Preparation Series): This two-part workshop is offered by HPSD members to the campus to help those planning on traveling abroad prepare adequately for the task. Case studies and philosophical approaches are investigated and presented. Contact Daan (harmsen@fas) or Emily (emilyguo@fas) to get involved.
  • Fundraising: Necessary for our trips to work! This year’s initiative is a Valentine’s Day flower sale. You’ll get a lot of experience working with various infrastructures, including how money gets raised on campus. Contact Margaret (margaretjiang@college) or Maria (mariaxia@fas) to get involved.
  • Campus Programs: Help plan our spring forum! Again, contact Angela (aqchen@fas) or Min (minlee@college).
  • Content Pieces: Read the NYTimes World section every day? Have your eye on Aid Watchers? Help advance our mission of staying abreast of and thinking critically about current events in international development by joining this committee and making short (very low-key) presentations at our general meetings. You’ll have support. Contact Joshua Ra (joshuara@college).

Solidarity Nicaragua: HPSD has been working with the community of el Limon, Nicaragua, since the organization’s inception in 2006. The focuses of this year’s trip will still be listening, learning, solidarity, and building relationships with our partners in Estelí while engaging in several development programs on the ground. We will continue our long standing commitment to the students and teachers at el Instituto Nacional Francisco Luis Espinoza (INFLE), the largest public secondary school in Estelí. Over the last several years we have also implemented water filter programs in five rural communities around El Limón. This year we will also implement a program in the community of La Ramada, an isolated village without access to clean, filtered water, located near a community we worked with last year (Potrero Grande). Applications for the Nicaragua trip can be requested from Angela Chen (aqchen@fas).

Children of the Border: We are working with Kirkland Tutor Sebastian Velez to support his NGO, which serves impoverished children of Haitian descent living on the border Dominican Republic and Haiti. We are focusing on issues of water access and contraception, and plan to run a 2-4 week trip to the Dominican Republic this summer. HPSD/CotB is also partnered with DR Water, led by Tracy Han ’11 and Matt Mulroy ’12, which you heard all about today!. For more information about Children of the Border, you can check out their website: http://childrenoftheborder.wordpress.com/ Contact Matt at mcmulroy@fas if interested in joining this committee!

If any of these committees piques your interest and you’d like to find out more, feel free to either contact the project leader directly, or simply email one of us and we can answer questions/put you in touch with the appropriate person!

Once again, welcome to HPSD, and we look forward to seeing you at the next meetings/events!