Friday, March 29, 2013

Summer Plans

Well it begins. I would have never pinned myself as someone who would keep a blog, but I think it will be the perfect way to document the amazing adventures I will be going on this summer.

So I have been working on a research team at Clemson. It is a chapter of a national organization called Engineers Without Boarders. We are split into multiple, student-led projects which all work on design projects for the developing world. 

This semester, our group is working on constructing a sustainable playground for a school to give children an incentive to attend classes. One of the concepts we are aiming to incorporate into the playground is to design a system that will generate electricity, providing the village with a source of cheap, sustainable energy. This energy will be used to light the school building at night, providing the adults in the village an opportunity to further their education when the building isn’t occupied. Since the area does not have abundant access to electricity, it is necessary for us to design a project that will generate electricity and transport it to a readily available source.  In order to fulfill this need, we are designing a sustainable playground to place in the area. While the playground will mostly contain some features strictly for the kids’ entertainment, our project focuses on an energy-producing merry-go-round that will be wired to a building within the village. 

Here is a video that shows a similar project that people from my team and some U of Michigan students built a few years back: {video}

So through this research, I have been allowed to travel to Liberia in May and put this plan into action and build the merry-go-round! I will be there from May 5- May 15. I am beyond excited and cant wait to see all the children so happy about the new playground! 

But, that isn't even all!!

So this past tuesday, I skipped my class to go to Anatomy with Emily Winburn. For literally no reason, as far as I knew, but Jesus knew otherwise. About halfway through this class, I am checking my email anddd......

pause: Let me throw in some back story. Back in October, another team I research with (Robotics in Bioengineering) was giving a talk at the Annual Biomedical Engineering Society Meeting. So that entire weekend I got to sit through lots of other mind-blowing talks. One being from Engineering World Health, and they were talking about a program called the Summer Institute. "The EWH Summer Institute has provided young engineers with the chance to live in a developing country with a local family, learn a new language and use newly acquired technical skills to improve health care in the community. One month of training is followed by a month of service in a local hospital during which participants install and repair medical equipment, train the staff, take inventory, solve problems and perform other engineering duties." says the website. So OF COURSE I applied right when I got back to Clemson. There were three options of destination: Rwanda, Nicaragua and Tanzania. They called me and interviewed me to go to Rwanda. Woah! I was so pumped. buuuut I didn't get the position. I was so upset. So I made plans to go to Liberia (as mentioned above) and then work and take summer classes. end pause.

So back in Anatomy with Em and check my email annnnd... I had an email from the Summer Institute saying that I could go to Nicaragua with them. They saw my application and had a spot if I wanted it. AND OF COURSE I WANTED IT! 

So there it is. I will be working in Liberia May 4-16 and Nicaragua May 23-July 28. I have never been so excited and nervous in my entire life! This is every (career related) dream I've ever had, coming true! But the only reason any of this is even possible is because I serve a God that only wants good for me."And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)."

The thing that I need to be most mindful of though, is that all of the things I do are meaningless without good motive. Not to make myself happy or feel good. Not for bragging rights. But for the love of the beautiful Liberian and Nicaraguan people who I will be able to serve all summer. 

In the words of Solomon, "Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 2)." 

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