Penn State Campus Brigade Club Goes Global

By Victoria Faconti

A brigade on campus has waged a war on fighting poverty and providing sustainable development to third world countries.

The Penn State branch of Global Brigades represents an international student-run non-profit organization that plan trips to countries like Ghana and Honduras to help improve various nations around the world.

Penn State has the largest Global Brigades club out of 200 throughout Europe and the United States, said Campus Chair of Global Brigades of Penn State Michael Henry.

“Communities in developing countries don’t have the resources to carry out their own development projects, and that’s where Brigades comes in,” Henry said.

Henry (senior-immunology and infectious disease) said the goal of Global Brigades is to give students practical on-the-ground experience in sustainable development while working to better the lives of those living in underdeveloped countries.

Global Brigades has a total of nine different chapters that focus on different parts of providing a variety of services to a village in need. Penn State has seven different chapters including architecture, environmental, medical, water, business, human rights and public health.

“It was an eye-opener to experience a different way of life and interact with people who have different values and value the environment the same way we do,” Lindsay McPhail (senior-economic and community environmental development) who has been in the business and environmental chapter said. McPhail went on a trip in January to Panama and helped build greenhouses and gardens.

Each of the chapters focuses on their own project, such as establishing a bank that supplies loans to small entrepreneurs or installing water gravity pipe stream systems so that the villages can have clean drinking water.

Every year, the chapters take separate trips to work on their specific projects. Students host fundraisers, canning trips and bake sales throughout the year to raise money to fund their trips. The brigade is currently doing a fundraiser with Rita’s Italian Ice and selling Italian ice to raise money for their upcoming trip to Honduras.

Fundraising Chair Mitchell Johnson (senior-environmental systems engineering) went to Honduras during winter break last year and helped establish and educate a water council who keep up the improvement systems they installed during their trip.

“It was a great introduction into sustainable water development and make a actual positive impact,” Johnson said.

Last year the largest brigade on campus — medical — traveled with 70 people each trip to Ghana and Panama.


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