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Winter 2004 Bruin Walk

Without borders

Photograph Courtesy of the EWB Chapter

Thailand is a favorite summer haunt for college students, but most spend more time slinging back the local brew than swinging picks and shovels.

But that’s just what six UCLA engineering students did when they traveled to this Southeast Asian country last summer as part of a project sponsored by the nonprofit group Engineers Without Borders (EWB)-USA. The students — all members of EWB’s UCLA chapter — spent eight days building a medical clinic in the tiny village of Samli in Thailand’s northern highlands.

“It makes me feel really good. You should have seen the faces of the (villagers) as we were building it,” says Philip Wegge, 22, president of the EWB chapter at UCLA. “The mother of the headmaster in the village would walk by every day with the sweetest smile on her face. She was just so happy.”

The 10-room clinic is the first medical facility for Samli, population 120. “They had a huge surge of people come from the surrounding villages when it opened,” Wegge says.

UCLA EWB club members are already planning future projects, which will take them on a return trip to Thailand, as well as to central Mexico.

by Anne Burke

2005 The Regents of the University of California