Sunday, September 26, 2010

Edward's Reflections

I just want to take the time now to look back on our experience in this class and Patriensa.

We all came into the class about a year ago with varying degrees of expectations. There were people from different kinds of cultural backgrounds and engineering disciplines. Little did we know, this pilot class allowed our group to go beyond what we expected. Thrown together in a group with random students, we managed to turn the professor's ideas into a concrete reality with hard work and dedication. None of this was easy - everybody had to contribute and devote a large amount of time to the project. There were times when we had our doubts. Our project managers were able to give the group a direction and confidence in the project. Through their leadership, we remained disciplined and continued along.

Once we were able to get funding and made the necessary preparations, it was time to go to the village. Unfortunately, only four students (Carrie, Stephen, Caleb, myself) were able to actually go to the village and bring the water project to completion. To be able to help a village in need of a helping hand was incredible. The people of Patriensa were incredibly heartwarming and hospitable. They did everything they could to help and we needed every single bit of it. Without them, the project would not have happened - plain and simple. From the children to the village elders to our little group, everybody pulled their own weight. The children especially were a joy to work with - they were always happy to be with us and weren't shy about it. The people of Ghana, the culture (customs, language, food), and the environment were very new to me but at the same time very familiar. For me, a lot of the food and lifestyle was reminiscent to that of Taiwan's culture. For example, the markets in the city of Accra looked (and smelled) identical to Taipei's nightmarket. But everything else about the culture was new to me - including SOME of the food (very large snails).

Once I heard the news that the water system was working, I was ecstatic. Our primary objective had been completed and the children and village have another access point to water. Our hand sanitation education was somewhat successful and hopefully the teachers can reiterate the importance of washing hands. The village of Patriensa are a very strong and smart people. Hopefully in the future projects for this class, there will be ways to bolster the village economy and allow the young villagers to stay in the village and give back to this community in addition to the water projects or construction projects.

I want to give my thanks to our whole Ghana group, the Peru group, the professors, Afren, and the entire village of Patriensa. To experience a brand new culture and people in a small village environment and be able to help such a large community is something indescribable and life-changing in many ways; I encourage everybody to find some way to give back to the community if you can.

I wish the best of luck to this class and its future endeavors and expect great things ahead.

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