An initiative which had its roots in CH is having an effect in Hurricane Harvey affected Houston.

The Student Volunteer Army began when Sam Johnson (2008-9) rounded up his friends on Facebook after the September 2010 earthquake. The success of this response to the Canterbury earthquakes continues to ripple around the world.

Shortly after the February 2011 earthquake in Christchurch, Japan experienced a large earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear plant meltdown. Global DIRT (Disaster Immediate Response Team) asked SVA leaders Sam Johnson (2008-9) and Jason Pemberton (2007-8) to help organize Japanese university students develop a similar volunteer program. Additionally, Global DIRT asked Pemberton and fellow SVA member Jackson Rowland to help New York City recover after Hurricane Sandy.

SVA's success also led to the creation of an academic course, CHCH101 at UC. The course is focused on post-quake Christchurch and covers post-disaster response, social innovation, and volunteerism.

When Hurricane Irene caused significant damage around the University of Vermont in 2011, UC connected with colleagues there and University of Vermont adopted and adapted CHCH101 is their own students went out and helped with their cleanup.

In 2013 a US study abroad student at UC took the course and on her return to Champaign, Illinois set up a Student Volunteer Army there. When a category F5 tornado struck nearby, the lessons learned from SVA immediately to a ‘fill the truck’ campaign, where needed items were swiftly donated.

Last month, soon after Hurricane Harvey passed through the Houston area, the CHCH101 course leaders were in touch with colleagues at Rice University, Houston. It was a timely connection and the information and experience from Christchurch were particularly helpful. Further collaboration is underway with Rice as they get further along in the process.






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