With all the changes made to our plans at the last minute, it was hard to say what exactly what my role would be on the trip. I expected I would be helping the canal rehabilitation with my civil engineering knowledge, but feared I wouldn’t have most of the knowledge necessary until next semester or further. Our approach lessened the pressure to teach: we decided to minimize our engineering input on minor issues and instead document the construction practices we observed the villagers performed as they worked. It definitely helped to have taken Materials Engineering this spring and studied concrete, but book knowledge can only get you so far. What this trip so far has been for me (and probably for many) is a collection of learning experiences. Observing and inspecting as opposed to attempting to design on the fly was a major part of our many “teaching moments”. I’m happy to report that our team now has a basic understanding of how water flows, how to build the canal floor to prevent undercutting, how to use concrete and rocks to repair and delay erosion, greetings in Swahili, and how Tanzanian politics affects our project…and this is just the short list! That’s the thing about traveling to a new country- everything you see is new, so with every turn is more learning. Luckily, I really like learning, so the rest of this trip will be quite enjoyable. I’m looking forward to the tides turning and learning more about nursing practices and Masaera in general.
– May 31, 2012