Volunteer Viewpoint – Petra Nichols

By Emilia Hull

The Global Alliance for Animals and People was lucky enough to have four volunteers from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania come for a period of three weeks to help fine-tune the business inner workings of the GAAP this past spring. This partnership was facilitated by the GAAP’s partnership with Penn International Impact Consulting (PIIC) group.

1891378_10203160594695481_4832594742021949251_oOne of the volunteers, Petra Nichols, is currently a student at the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania, pursuing a major in both International Relations and Hispanic Studies, with a minor in Economic Policy.

Petra was attracted to the GAAP’s mission due to her previous stay in Latin America, where she witnessed first-hand the large populations of stray dogs in the region, along with the issues that arise from these populations, including widespread diseases.

While at the GAAP, Petra collaborated with the GAAP to enhance their use of their donor management software to increase both the visibility of the GAAP and effectiveness of the software. Petra stated that this work “made [her consider what [she] valued in donating to an NGO, especially international NGOs. It is difficult to articulate certain issues when donors have no knowledge of them. For instance, very few North Americans are aware of stray dog populations in other countries, or of different conceptions of pet ownership in other cultures.” Petra and her colleagues worked tirelessly to better articulate the mission of the GAAP for potential donors and boost the GAAP’s current image and brand equity for clients, donors, and potential sponsors. Their final report focused on outlining specific steps – such as changes to the website, social media platforms, and partnerships with other organizations – that would address these key issues.

One of Petra’s favorite experiences on site was taking a tour of the clinic DSC_0301during the GAAP Clinic’s Anniversary Open House. Along with various clients and members of the community interested in the GAAP’s work, she witnessed the veterinarians perform physical exams on dogs and explain the surgical equipment used around the clinic. She commented that “they clearly showed passion for their careers on a daily basis, as do the GAAP’s other employees.” She also noted that she was “very impressed with the dedication of the directors and the staff and their range of backgrounds and capabilities, from the administrators to the veterinarians. The positive atmosphere of collaboration creates a friendly environment for employees and clients alike”,

20150602_185337Petra also praised the GAAP staff not only for their friendliness, but also on their drive to “accomplish much more with fewer resources” and their ability to provide “quality veterinary care to pets as well as educate the public about diseases such as hydatid through successful poster campaigns, clearly communicating the dangers of petting stray dogs,” embracing both parts of their mission to help animals and people alike.

Furthermore, Elena and Guillermo – the GAAP’s founders – not only embraced the daily responsibilities of running clinics and an NGO in Latin America, but also continued to conduct their own research projects that are published in peer-reviewed journals, enabling them to “legitimize the necessity of the GAAP’s work in the academic community.”

Having returned to the United States now, Petra will be continuing her education at the University of Pennsylvania and hopes to continue collaborating with nonprofits, volunteering her time and skills pro bono to aid organizations that help those most in need.

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