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May Week Alternative milestone

Two Trinity undergraduates who set out to change the way we think about charity are celebrating a new milestone. After inspiring hundreds of students, raising £380,000 to help protect 450,000 people against malaria, and spreading the May Week Alternative movement to universities around the UK, a new chapter will open at Harvard.

As Trinity students in 2017, George Rosenfeld and Areeg Emarah joined forces to pioneer a different way of celebrating the end of exams from Cambridge’s famous May Balls.

George speaking at the inaugural MWA Summer Party

By donating the cost of a May Ball ticket, in its first year May Week Alternative raised £12,700 with matched funding for the Against Malaria Foundation. George said:

That led to more than 13,000 people being protected from malaria. We had managed to protect literally more than the number of undergraduate students in Cambridge. We wanted to change the way students think about giving, reframing it from a guilt-laced moral obligation to a positive and rewarding experience which can be actively embraced.

Fast forward to 2022 and MWA has blossomed from its Cambridge roots, with chapters – known as Raise – at Sheffield, Durham, Oxford, Warwick and Glasgow universities.

This summer will see the launch of Raise Harvard. George, who has been studying effective altruism as a Henry Fellow at Harvard, said:

The continued success of Raise at universities across the UK shows how powerful it can be when we as students come together to celebrate giving. We can’t wait to see how this philosophy takes hold on the other side of the pond!

Most students who join are making the biggest single donation of their life to date. That’s done in an explicitly positive context, and I think it’s really powerful in changing the way students think about charity in the long term.

Arreeg worked on MWA throughout her time at Trinity as well as pioneering access initiatives at the Department of Education

Areeg was one of the first students to respond, joining the committee as MWA Publicity Officer. Now a Software Engineer at Cisco in Harpenden in the UK, she said:

This is not just a movement of people hopping on board. Everyone joining had to think about the donation they were making. The philosophy is about you engaging with the act of giving … this is a deliberate movement to do good and that’s pretty powerful.

George plans to pursue a career in charity entrepreneurship. He said: ‘When we adopt a more deliberate and positive approach towards giving it can become a more meaningful and rewarding part of our lives rather than seeing it as an obligation or an afterthought.’

 

 

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