[MUSIC PLAYING] MARY MILLARD: Working on real-world problems was just amazing, I mean, completely different from everything I was doing in my coursework.
BLAKE BARR: Both in our country and across the world, there's a large health disparity, and I want to help.
EVA JOHNSON: I think there are some things in life that you do, and you can't explain to anybody why you want to do it. My focus in international work has been in Haiti, and that started in 2010 after the earthquake.
JUM WARRITAY: I look at the textile industry in Ghana. So instead of taking what I see as the stereotypical approach towards development from a perspective of decline, I look at what is happening in terms of the growth of consumption.
JOANNA BARRETT: I volunteered for a US nonprofit called Arrive, and I lived and worked at an orphanage in rural southwestern Kenya. I started teaching fifth-grade math, sixth-grade English, and seventh-grade science. One of the 15-year-old boys, he didn't actually know how to read, but he had memorized how words looked. And he practiced reading. It took him like two days to master the entire alphabet. By the time I left, he was writing and reading.
BLAKE BARR: We were working in South India. We're setting up and about to start a yearlong clinical trial. Right now, it's known that at the cellular level, vitamin D boosts immunity. But we want to see if vitamin D supplementation can help kick TB faster.
JAMES GUO: Because Haiti has a stigma against people with disabilities, especially after the earthquake, we wanted to create the schooling environment where people would be able to come together, sort of erase the stigma through education.
EVA JOHNSON: As the project stands now, Centre d'Education Inclusif, which we abbreviate as CEI-- and in English that means Center for Inclusive Education-- we are working to allow kids to interact with one another with disabilities and physical and mental capabilities that might be able to teach each other.
MARY MILLARD: We spent one semester researching the need for housing in Nagarote, Nicaragua. We spent a semester designing, and then we went out and actually built the house. So local families in the area can come and see what kind of home they could build. It's all made of adobe bricks, all locally-sourced materials, very energy efficient.
BLAKE BARR: You hear about some of the things that you'll face, and it's a whole different matter to experience them firsthand. It really gave me a lot of perspective.
MARY MILLARD: Just seeing the difference in resources that they have at their fingertips compared to what I have at my fingertips was shocking.
JOANNA BARRETT: It was such a step outside of my life for me.
JAMES GUO: There are some pretty significant cultural differences.
JUM WARRITAY: I think a lot about how complex our efforts to address poverty are.
MARY MILLARD: I think many of the poverty issues in the world have their crux in sustainability and resource management.
JUM WARRITAY: Africa is a lot of times viewed as this place with dysfunction, disease, and deprivation. And I think there's a certain damage that happens with this long history we have of representing Africa in those ways. There are these contradictions. There's people who don't have enough to eat, but at the same time, they are proud of how they look.
EVA JOHNSON: When you're working with people of all socioeconomic statuses, it's really important to keep in mind that that's not the defining factor of where you stand on Earth.
JUM WARRITAY: It's really important to see the assets and their talents that already exist in places and to build those up.
MARY MILLARD: I never knew that I would be so interested and passionate about helping people everywhere. Passion is something that's driven internally, not consciously. My Cornell experience has really not only spurred that interest in me, but it just made me aware of a larger scope that my work could take and actually have a global impact.
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Highlights of work by Cornellians to reduce poverty around the world. The film premiered at the Charter Day Weekend event, "Cornell and Global Poverty Reduction" held April 25, 2015.