Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Day 16 - Learning from each other(and from the experts!)

The Charcoal Crushers rose very early this morning and, accompanied by Amy, began some early morning charcoal burning so that they would have some materials for testing later in the day. They pioneered the very interesting and elaborately named method of "egg on a stick" to grab some early morning snacks as they worked. By all accounts, it was far tastier than one might imagine!

Amy ready to go into action

The finished product

After this, the Charcoal crushers, along with the other nine teams, got back to building and prototpying within, and often directly outside of, the workshops.

Nathan and Joshua, two of the Charcoal Crushers, sort through the carbonized corn cobs

Bernard, from the charcoal crushing team, speaks to a reporter from NPR(National Public Radio)

The participants were then treated to a lunch organized and sponsored by MIT's Public Service Centre. Each organizer facilitated individual round table discussions with the participants, explaining the role of the Public Service Centre and the potential for collaboration with MIT students on projects within their home countries. It was made clear to participants that if they submitted proposals to the Public Service Centre, the institution could then allocate funding for MIT students to work on research projects relating to the work or go out on field placement in the January break or on a summer internship.

Many of the participants were extremely excited about this and some great conversation was sparked at the table between community partners and students as they brainstormed about potential ways that they could work together in the future. In addition to this, there is follow up funding available from the Rockefeller foundation for for both the individual IDDS projects and for potential collaboration between participants in the future. This is something which was not available for last year's summit and as such we are hoping that it can help bring many more projects and prototype's to the implementation stage this year.

After lunch we returned to room 32-151, the lecture theatre in which we had spent so much of our first week. The subject of this afternoon's lecture was The Full Belly Project, a project which aims to relieve hunger and create economic opportunities in developing countries through the design and distribution of labor saving, locally replicable agricultural devices. The lecture was presented by the project's founder, Jock Brandis, and he spoke at length about his peanut sheller project in Mali and he also spoke to us about the potential the Jathropa plant had for developing new industries in the developing world. Find out more about Jock's work, and the full belly project, at www.fullbellyproject.org/ .

A Jatropha flower

Jock Brandis in Mali with his Peanut Sheller

After this the participants broke once again into their teams to continue work on their projects. We had then organized an evening of cultural interaction to help participants to let off some steam and to learn a little more about each other. We had about twenty five short presentations from participants from all around the globe over some Mexican burritos and tacos and I personally found all of the presentations extremely interesting and some of them downright hilarious. Participants spoke about their home cities, countries and favorite places with infectious enthusiasm and I now seem to have a much larger list of places I need to visit!

The presentations were also interspersed with some hilarious jokes told by Kenneth and Joshua, two of our Zambian participants. All of their jokes seemed to centre around the eventual loss of their father's job due to the influence of their former colonial masters, the English, and as such Steven Gerrard specifically, hailing from Manchester, seemed to be on the receiving end of quite a number of jokes! It was all taken in good humour though and was followed by some hilarious impromptu presentations from our Brazilian participants. Rafael even showed us some "traditional" Brazilian dancing once we gave him some encouragement! We were also treated to a wonderful piece of fiddle music from Michelle Marcinel, and this instantly had me thinking about some potential collaboration for the Irish dancing at the talent show next Thursday week.

The consistently energetic participants finished up the evening with a late night game of ultimate Frisbee on the Football field, before getting an early night ahead of another full day building in the workshops.

Grudge match before late night Ultimate Frisbee

The participants take a break mid-way through the frisbee match

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