Many undergraduates have never left the country. Many have never taught English to anyone else. Most undergraduates have never considered the quality of the education system in a developing country. Noah Cellura, Florida ’19, has certainly considered this problem — and he decided to do something about it.
Cellura is a junior studying business administration with a minor in international development and humanitarian assistance at the University of Florida, where he is a proud member of SigEp’s Florida SEC.
We spoke with Cellura recently to learn more about his impressive humanitarian efforts during his time at UF.
What is Project YEET?
NC: YEET stands for Youth Empowering Education Together. Our mission is to build a bridge between the talents of UF students and the educational needs of children around the world. This past summer, I took seven UF freshmen (and one co-leader) to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for three months and started a free English academy for about 40 children aged 6-15 in, Rocinha Latin America’s largest favela, or shantytown.
Project YEET is a chance for UF freshmen to have a unique summer that combines the skills and training of an internship, the fun and cultural immersion of a study abroad program, and the mission and impact of a service project. Beyond that, we were the first project of our kind in a community like Rocinha, an urban favela of almost 300,000 people where most children lack access to English learning programs or high-quality education.
How did Project YEET come about?
NC: I started Project YEET because my biggest passion is improving access to education for children around the world, and I wanted to help kids in Rio de Janeiro have the chance to learn English and interact with positive role models. Further, I was frustrated at the lack of internship opportunities for rising sophomores and wanted to create an internship for freshmen that gave them a chance to expand their horizons and get out of their comfort zones early in their college careers.
What’s next for Project YEET?
NC: We’re trying to lower barriers to English education by building an online English learning platform where teachers in Brazil can deploy curriculum like engaging videos, quizzes and worksheets to their students on low-end smartphones.
How has your SigEp experience played into Project YEET and vice versa?
NC: I feel that my time with my brothers and serving in leadership positions such as being a recruitment captain and vice president of member development helped me gain skills I later needed as leader of Project YEET. Some of these skills include inspiring a shared vision and starting with “why.” Further, I think that watching my brothers succeed on campus and in their careers motivated me and gave me the confidence to start an ambitious project.
One of my favorite parts of leading Project YEET this summer was that two younger chapter brothers applied for the program and were chosen to go on our seven-person intern team. Watching two younger SigEps excel in our program and serve as stellar role models and teachers for our Brazilian students was a huge joy. I was incredibly proud of their passion, creativity and hard work on our program. Watching my chapter brothers exemplify the values of Virtue, Diligence, and Brotherly Love while in Rio de Janeiro was an incredibly unique experience that I am thankful to have had a part in.
How can interested brothers get involved in Project YEET?
NC: Brothers can keep up with our efforts to improve access to education at facebook.com/projectyeet!