During summer 2013, Sida Li ’15, a political science major with a concentration in visual arts, created “Healthy Children for a Peaceful Future,” a project that sought to provide the knowledge and medical help to lead healthful lifestyles to underprivileged children from rural villages in Shanxi province, China, from which she emigrated as a child. Along with local doctors, Li visited daycares in eight villages in the Changzhi area to provide check-ups, health lessons, nutrition supplements and medicine to the children, many of whom are sent to daycare for prolonged periods of time due to their parents’ work schedules. Li’s project was an extension of work she had done in New York City as a member of Columbia Peer Health Exchange, a program that brings health education to underfunded New York City high schools.
Davis Projects for Peace, funded by philanthropist Kathryn W. Davis GSAS’31, encourages undergraduates to design and implement their own grassroots projects. The initiative is coordinated through Undergraduate Student Life’s Student Engagement team, which supports students in the logistical planning and implementation of their projects. The support that Undergraduate Student Life provides allows students to engage in myriad civic-minded and leadership opportunities, including Alternative Spring Break, the Columbia Communities in Action Internship program (co-sponsored by the Center for Career Education) and registered student groups whose mission is giving back and making a difference on campus, in New York City and around the world.
“When I learned of the dire health conditions in poor, rural areas of China, I wanted to do something about it. The Columbia College curriculum was certainly an influence that inspired my project. We've spent a great deal of time learning about different perspectives and cultures to remind us of our duty to do good as a global citizen.”