Water is a staple of human life, used for everything from drinking and cooking to washing and cleaning. But for many in the world, this basic necessity is hard to come by.
In the village of Marwa in Tanzania, for example, women typically spend four to seven hours each day walking to collect water. There is no local well or water collection system in the area – a problem that students in Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences are looking to fix.
This summer, students in The Sustainable and Resilient Tanzanian Community study abroad program will begin their quest to build a rainwater harvesting system in the medical clinic in Marwa Village, Tanzania.
After completion of the project, three students — Ris Twigg, Heather (Katie) Harper and Clay Perry — will be staying in the country to facilitate more development.
Twigg is an Environmental Policy and Journalism major from Bloomville, Ohio, and will be taking photos and blogging the entire trip.
“This is my first time ever leaving the country,” said Twigg. “I am excited to hone in on my passions in writing and photography to tell their story in an authentic way that gives meaning and purpose to our project and their daily lives.”
Harper, an Environment, Economy, Development and Sustainability major from Columbus, is most excited about taking what she has learned about development in the classroom and applying it during this trip.
“I can’t wait to get to do nitty gritty development work. You can sit in a classroom and learn about it all day, but until you are actually doing it, you don’t fully comprehend it,” said Harper, who will focus on women’s empowerment.
“The women are relied heavily on in the village because they go and get the water,” Harper explained. “If we make it easier for the village to obtain water, we don’t want to disturb or lower the women’s social standing.”
After the completion of the study abroad, Harper will be working in a village called Same, where she will be looking for ways to improve a community market.
Perry is a Development Economics student who hails from Washington D.C. Like Harper, he will also be working on women’s empowerment while studying abroad.
After completion of the program, Perry’s internship will be at the University of Dodoma, where he will be studying political and economic changes to the food system of Tanzania.
“I can’t wait to be doing full-time research at a university that’s in a developing country,” said Perry. “I am looking forward to doing work on my thesis, and hopefully will be complimenting research done by Tanzanian economists as well.”
All three students have taken courses in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences to prepare them for the cultural changes they will experience.
“We were required to take a pre-departure seminar course and we are learning about the cultural norms, how colonialism has affected Tanzania and also Swahili,” said Harper. “It’s better preparing us for what we are going to be getting into and giving us some context.”
When asked why they chose this study abroad program specifically, all three students agreed that the Sustainable and Resilient Tanzanian Community Study abroad will have lasting impacts on their future careers.
“The length of the study abroad (3 weeks) will definitely help us better understand how development work occurs,” said Harper. She hopes to get a solid foundation of development skills to take with her into a future job.
“I heard about the program around the same time I was starting to get interested in economic development,” said Parry. “I knew that if I ever wanted to be a good development economist, I would need to get experience working in development implementation in a country that is developing.”
Twigg would love to work for National Geographic someday, and is looking forward to the international photography experience she will have. “The opportunity to spend so much time learning a culture, their history and building relationships with them is also something that drew me in to this study abroad,” said Twigg.
The study abroad will leave in May and return in June, but the impacts of the Sustainable and Resilient Tanzanian Community program will surely leave lasting impacts on the people of Marwa village and also on the CFAES students working to benefit the country.