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Jenn Leahy’s BlogTanzania

I’m a senior student of the Environmental Engineering Technology Program at the Ivany Campus. When I learned about the Mikumi Solar Water Project in my first year, I recognized it as a unique opportunity that I wanted to take advantage of. I have always wanted to travel to Africa, and to be part of an international project that allows me to share my skills in a meaningful way. Working as part of the Mikumi Solar Water Project team has been a challenging and yet such a rewarding experience in so many ways.

First of all, I want to say how grateful I am for the opportunity to experience the country and culture from the perspective of a working student – it has given me so much more insight than would have been possible if travelling as solely a tourist. Not only do we get to speak with local fellow college students, we are also collaborating and working with them and their teachers to get things done. Although communication can sometimes be a challenge, in the end tasks are completed and both sides come away with a sense of accomplishment.

As part of the ‘wells team’, our main goals for the project were to get the solar pump installed, and to collect water level data. With only a day and a half left on the project, we have accomplished these goals. The opportunity to apply my new knowledge in the field, interpreting the data and drawing conclusions about the nature of the groundwater on the VETA Mikumi campus has been a big confidence booster, not to mention very satisfying. I am happy to be able to contribute further groundwater and pumping effect data to future students working on this project.

Working with people with different skills sets from NSCC and from VETA has also taught me more about skills outside of my field.  We have been presented with a multitude of problems throughout our stay here – anywhere from equipment / supply delays, the pump not working, where to place our rain catchment / disinfection system, problems taking water level measurements, to an unexpected need for a new solar panel array structure, and anything in between. With a lot of help from our Tanzanian friends, we managed to work through it all, learning new approaches to problem solving while thinking outside of the box.

Building on the work of students from previous years, it feels good to accomplish what we set out to do. On top of it all, Tanzanian people are extremely friendly and welcoming and the countryside is beautiful beyond words. I would highly recommend this project to future students (learn some Swahili!) – an experience of a lifetime, thank you NSCC.

Jenn Leahy
Environmental Engineering Technology Student
NSCC Ivany Campus

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