Teaching International Development (Villanova) / Synergy of College and Community (Lafayette) / Challenging Assumptions, Building Relationships (PennEWB)

Teaching International Development (Villanova University):
    The presenation will introduce the course curriculum which was developed at Villanova University to support EWB projects. Course work includes topics designed to introduce undergraduate engineering student to issues related to working in low-income developing communities. Topics such as environmental health and sanitation, water supply infrastructure, renewable energy and project management in developing countries will be introduced.

Synergy of College and Community in Honduras (Lafayette College):
    "The Synergy of College and Community" will focus on how our chapter educates the community in Honduras and the Lafayette campus. We teach the community members of El Convento, Honduras how to strengthen their community by creating sustainable economic projects and being knowledgeable about their water system. We teach the Lafayette campus to open their eyes to a new perspective on how the lessons implemented in the classroom directly convey real life applications.

    Biographies -
Diane Tran, Thomas Johnson, Emily Clark, and Michael Trejo.:
    We are students from Lafayette College, who are all committed members of Engineers without Borders. As a group, we have completed one project, finishing up on another community, and just beginning a project in El Convento, Honduras. We have traveled to El Convento for several site assessments and have completed the overall water system design. The next trip in January will be focused on implementation of the water system.

    Thomas Johnson, a junior Chemical Engineer, is the technical team leader of the pump design. His job is to lead his group in finding feasible pumps for El Convento, Honduras. He has designed and constructed a hand pump to be used in the community. Emily Clark, a sophomore civil engineer, is one of the club's most knowledgeable people regarding slow sand filters. This semester she will be helping with the design details of the construction of the slow sand filter. Michael Trejo, a sophomore mechanical engineer, is part of the cultural team. The cultural team is the essential link between the students and the community members. Michael will be traveling in January to assist in implementation as well as educating the community about the design and educating the students about the community's needs. Diane Tran, a junior civil engineer, is co-technical leader and will be the trip leader in January. She has down work with surveying and GIS and helped design the water distribution or pipe system component of the design.

Challenging Assumptions, Building Relationships: Reflections on Development Work in Cameroon (PennEWB):
    PennEWB will be presenting a powerpoint presentation on the work that they have engaged in in recent years.  We will talk about how PennEWB has shaped the careers and paths of participants of PennEWB projects.  Many of our alumna have startups or are working with the Peace Corps.  We will also discuss the specific experiences of the 12 students who traveled to Cameroon this past summer to implement a water distribution system in the village of Gundom.

    Mezirow states that transformative learning is the process of "becoming critically aware of one's own tacit assumptions and expectations and those of others and assessing their relevance for making an interpretation."  Merriam and Caffarella identify three stages of this process: critical reflection, reflective discourse, action.  Transformative learning epitomizes our experience in Cameroon this past summer and the careers of alumna reflect how "transformative" such experiences can be.

    Our team arrived in Cameroon with many preconceived ideas surrounding development work, the needs of the community, and the political, financial, and social realities of implementing projects like ours.  Almost immediately we were forced to challenge our assumptions and confront difficult realities.  This was not only a process that happened on our side but the community also had to reconsider their own assumptions.

    We will talk about our work in Cameroon, the community, the players and stakeholders of the project, and the many challenges we faced.  Some key experiences we will discuss include our experience with conducting health focus groups with the community.  In conducting the focus groups, we came to realize the importance and difficulty of engaging the community for feedback.(reflection)  We were also presented with the difficulty of asking the right questions and finding the issues that needed to be clarified.  Our explorations continued in discussion (discourse) where we examined the discrepancy between what we perceived as the needs of the community and what the community itself perceived of its needs.  The water system we were helping build was a priority of the community, and though it won't affect the community in as big of a way as we had previously believed, it was a step onto the ladder of development.  We then looked inward and became aware of the purpose of our trip and our roles in implementing this project.  That our trip was as much for providing support to the community as it was for us to learn.  We will also talk about our meetings with the community of Kob, with whom we had previously worked in past years.  Our post assessment in Kob also proved key to our understanding of the measures that need to taken to ensure sustainability and financing.  We shall then discuss the decisions (action) we along with the community and NGO made to ensure success in Gundom.

    We will finally take a look at what alumna have done with their past experiences working with PennEWB.