Here at Gonzaga, there is a strong belief in building connections through global outreach and international connectedness.
“The Gonzaga experience fosters a mature commitment to dignity of the human person, social justice, diversity, intercultural competence, global engagement, solidarity with the poor and vulnerable, and care for the planet,” the GU mission statement reads.
One of the many clubs actively seeking to further the goals presented in this mission statement is the recently revived Gonzaga Without Borders (GWB). Although based in the School of Engineering, GWB is open to anyone of any major who seeks to learn and educate others about various international social justice topics.
“GWB is an interdisciplinary club that is combating social injustices in local & global communities,” the bio of the club’s official Instagram account, @guwithoutborders, reads.
The club plans to participate in and engage with a number of activities and projects. Like most clubs, however, GWB has had to adjust due to COVID-19.
“With the pandemic, we’re kind of focusing more on local [projects] that could later be applied to different countries,” said Bridget McFaul, president of GWB.
One of the local projects the club participated in earlier this semester was a “Spokane River Keeper Cleanup and Walking Tour” that occurred on Oct 4. According to GWB’s Instagram account, members were able to collect a total of 300 pounds of garbage and debris.
A core focus of GWB is on making permanent changes in the places it serves.
“Walking alongside communities is super important to us,” McFaul said. “Not just going in, fixing things, and leaving, but understanding why [things] got so bad in the first place.”
For those unfamiliar with the “Without Borders” concept, McFaul likens her own club to other organizations such as Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) and Ingénieurs Sans Frontières (Engineers Without Borders).
"It’s about not letting the borders keep you contained in the service that you’re trying to give, not letting your boundaries affect your abilities and your wanting to help," McFaul said.
She said the focus of the concept is on helping nations improve without being biased toward one nation or another.
At a time when global politics are more contentious than ever, GWB serves as an example of the good that comes from a focus on solidarity and social justice. The GU mission statement’s words of “dignity of the human person, social justice, diversity, intercultural competence, [and] global engagement” can be seen in the work done by the GWB club.
“Due to COVID-19 our projects have been localized, but this has not stopped us from assisting communities outside of Gonzaga,” said Elizabeth Moore, vice president of GWB. “Gonzaga Without Borders has an interdisciplinary focus on social justice and works to not only assist communities, but to walk alongside them. We hope to do some outreach in the Spokane community to improve public knowledge about litter and overall plastic pollution.”
GWB is also planning a host of meetings and projects to commence once COVID-19 is better contained.
“We have our bi-weekly meetings with club members every Thursday at 7 p.m.,” McFaul said.
Although in the research and development stage, GWB is currently engaged in three long-term projects. One of them is a cleanup of the Spokane River that the club hopes to conduct as sustainably as possible. Another project examines the river’s water at the chemical level and seeks to remove any harmful pollutants, such as plastic.
“While we do have a goal of cleaning the river, we also want to lessen the output of these pollutants to the river in the first place, and this starts with Gonzaga,” Moore said. “Currently, we are in the process of purchasing and testing three different filter systems to be implemented onto Gonzaga’s campus. Our hope is to lessen Gonzaga's contribution to this problem, and these filters would make a significant difference.”
In addition to these, a project occurring in the nearby Logan neighborhood is slated to begin this spring.
“[It will be] a little bit of something for everyone,” McFaul said.
Because the club was recently revived, all of this year’s members are brand new to GWB. Knowing this, McFaul said the leaders of GWB are striving to create a good foundation to leave behind to the lower-standing students who will be the future of the club.
“We’re really trying to reach out to the younger grades and encourage leadership and ownership of projects,” McFaul said.
For more news and updates involving GWB, check out the club’s Instagram, @guwithoutborders. GWB meets every other Thursday at 7 p.m.