MIT’s Independent Activities Period (IAP) is one of my favorite times of the year because it is a perfect opportunity to send D-Lab students abroad. This month, our students are traveling to 10 different countries and working with collaborators from many areas of D-Lab’s global network.
During the course of the month, they will immerse themselves in different cultures and communities to perform needs assessments and investigative research, begin or advance projects, and assess past work by previous trips. Students will mostly live in the communities where they are working, often living with host families, to experience life as it is lived by our collaborators. Here’s a snapshot of what 41 students and their trip leaders will be working on.
From the D-Lab: Development Class
Team Botswana is working with These Hands for the third time, advancing work on six projects that range from an ostrich egg driller (for making jewelry) to a pedal-powered washing machine. Five students will travel with trip leaders Brittany Bautista and Justin Carrus, both MIT graduate students who were involved with D-Lab as undergrads.
Team Colombia is investigating projects from IDDS Climate Change Adaptation and helping local innovation center C-Innova decide how they will progress. Six students will travel with trip leaders Johanna Greenspan-Johnston (graduate student in the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning) and Juan David Reina Rozo (Fulbright Fellow at D-Lab and Colombian native).
Team Guatemala is following up on projects from IDDS Sustainable Homes, with a focus on examining cookstoves and cooking practices in the town of Santa Catarina together with partner Link4. Five students will travel with leader Charlotte Fagan, formerly of Bikes Not Bombs.
Team India & Nepal is embarking on a two-in-one trip so they can work on a xylem filter water research project funded by J-WAFS and an agriculture project, both in India, as well as a heating project in the Himalayan region of Nepal. Seven students will travel with trip leaders Megha Hegde and Anish Paul Antony, both D-Lab research staff members. Supported in part by MISTI and MIT-India!
Team Kenya is providing technical support to two startups in Nairobi, BrightGreen Renewable Energy and Foondi. Two students with leader Juliet Wanyiri, Kenyan native, founder of Foondi and a current graduate student at MIT's Integrated Management Program.
Team Uganda is running a youth STEM workshop in Soroti in collaboration with Makerere University and TEWDI Uganda. Three students will travel with trip leader Nai Kalema, longtime D-Lab staffer.
From the D-Lab: Gender Class
Team Ghana is running a workshop to identify wastepickers’ financial needs and aspirations in order to identify appropriate financial inclusion tools for the informal sector with Environment360, Fan Milk, and WIEGO. Four students with leader and course co-instructor Libby McDonald. In conjunction with D-Lab Inclusive Market project Resilient Economies Action Lab (REAL).
Team Nicaragua is leading workshops with a cooperative of 400 smallholder women farmers to understand technologies and business models appropriate for responding to climate change and share results to learn from one another with Fundacion Entre Mujeres and Fundacion Para la Investigacion del Clima. Three students with trip leader Juliana Miranda Mitkiewicz, a visiting PhD student from Brazil. In conjunction with D-Lab Inclusive Market project Pick-it!
Special Project - Transform WASH Co-Design Summit
And finally, I and my colleague Sher Vogel will be taking 6 current and former D-Lab students to Ethiopia to participate in the Transform WASH Co-Design Summit, occurring from January 21 to February 2 in Awasa. These students will be working alongside local Ethiopians in six teams seeking to identify behavioral and cultural solutions that help eliminate open defecation, in partnership with Population Services International.
Stay tuned for Updates!
Like what you’ve read so far? Then stay tuned for blog posts from students, instructors, and trip leaders when they return to Cambridge in February. I can’t wait to see what stories they bring back!