An Intro to Service in South Bend:
Gary Gilot Talk on Leadership and Service to the South Bend Community,
This was the first event put on by Engineers Without Borders following their first general meeting. The talk was held in the café in Geddes Hall, which helped to provide a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere. When I walked in I decided to have a seat with two gentlemen who seemed to be the guests of honor. One of them was Gary Gillot, the night’s speaker. I learned that he is a civil engineer who has been heavily involved in the South Bend area for much of his career. His purpose for giving the talk was to introduce us to a series of projects in the South Bend Area and possibly inspire us to do our part in continuing his mission. He also talked about the aspects of being a good engineer in the field and a strong leader in society.
The talk really introduced me to the idea of South Bend as a part of Notre Dame. While Engineers Without Borders is an organization grounded in international service, it also relies on elements of local community. I realized that before we look to solve problems elsewhere in the world, we need to fix problems found at home. Gary’s dream was of a renewed Bowman Creek in the heart of South Bend. He explained to us its current situation as a seasonal water system and how the city’s development had harmed the ecosystem. But he really wanted to express how much potential the creek has in making South Bend a greater city. South Bend has a few problematic areas and the creek would help to open up South Bend to new civil developments. He then introduced a series of smaller, student-based projects that will help the movement along. One of which is the Ravina Park bridge project, something which I have recently gotten involved in.
Overall I thought the talk had a very powerful message. I signed up for EWB because it seemed like a great opportunity to serve impoverished areas worldwide. This talk gave me some perspective however. How can we as engineers expect to help the world when there are problems in our local communities? Can we really go to an area hoping to serve, knowing we have essentially turned our backs on the community at our doorstep? I hope to continue my involvement in the Ravina Project and do my part in helping South Bend flourish.
For More on the Ravina Park Project, see my Accomplishments and Reflection pages