Building Understanding through International Learning and Development (BUILD)


Building Understanding through International Learning and Development (BUILD) is an interdisciplinary student-led program of the Institute for Global Leadership at Tufts University. BUILD seeks to educate and immerse students in the theory and practice of sustainable development by partnering with rural communities in the developing world to research and implement sustainable initiatives for human, social, and economic development.

Our Inspiration

Across India, economic advancement and increased power on the world stage have created opportunities for a large portion of the population. However, negative consequences of development on India’s rural poor often go unnoticed.  

Thottiapatti, our partner village of 70 households in the Perambalur district of rural Tamil Nadu, India, is a community of individuals with a rich cultural and religious heritage. In the local language of Tamil, this is the ur—the people and physical spaces that make up a place to call home. These individuals have a remarkable sense of resilience about them; their life experiences speak for themselves. The majority work as daily-wage agricultural and brick-breaking laborers, do not own their own land and earn the equivalent of $1.50 per day. Families will migrate to different districts and states during the dry months to find work, disrupting their children’s education. Thottiapatti lacks access to immediate transportation, toilets, consistent power supply, and medical care. Reflecting the national trend, there have been multiple recent suicides within the village that have torn families apart—leaving an overarching feeling of desolation. Taking all in stride, the people of Thottiapatti live with the hope of a better life for their children. 

With applied effort and cooperation, BUILD India believes in the ability to transform Thottiapatti into a peaceful, promising community.100% of the proceeds from sales of our prints, taken by both BUILD members and various children of Thottiapatti, will go towards the current project taking place - construction of a computer center, public toilet facilities, and a communal meeting space with a library and art materials.

For more information, read our grant proposal for Davis Projects for Peace here