Why did you enroll in this course?

Before coming to college I was extremely eager to join Engineers Without Borders. As a prospective engineer, I thought that taking what you learned in a lecture and transferring it to the real world was a wonderful cause. On top of this, the work we would be doing would be for the betterment of the lives of those that are less fortunate than the majority of us who live in America. I believe that the meaning of life is to make the world a better place for future generations, and I have molded my life around capitalizing on opportunities that allow me to make a positive impact on the world. When I arrived at Lehigh, I did not realize that the Engineers Without Borders chapter here assigns projects within the first week or two, before I was even able to find a way to join the organization. I was very upset that I had missed my opportunity for this year. One day, though, Vice Provost Mehta presented in one of my lectures about his Global Social Impact Fellowship (GSIF). This opportunity was music to my ears as I saw no difference between the two organizations besides the fact that I could work with people from any major as this was not restricted to solely engineers. I immediately filled out my application to the GSIF and was extremely happy to have my interview and be placed on the Sierra Leone Mushroom Project.

How do you envision this course making you a better student?

I believe that this course and the group work that corresponds with it teaches lessons that go beyond simply being a student. From our presentations, I get the sense that we are held to an extremely high standard when it comes to our work and progress. To me, this opportunity seems like a simulation of how I will have to work in my jobs in the future, if not even harder than that. Between the massive amounts of group collaboration, time commitment, and emotional attachment to our work, I believe that this project will teach me how to be an excellent worker. We will learn how to manage our time, meet deadlines, put together presentations and present to a group of intelligent people, and even get true field work experience. By the time we are done with this year of work, I expect myself to have a much better understanding for how to work as a team and work efficiently to achieve whatever project is in front of us. Although I have no doubt it will be hard work, I am confident that this course will more than prepare me for any project that lies in my future.

What solution do you propose to address the problem regarding poor eyesight in underdeveloped countries?

I recently watched a short video regarding this eyesight crisis. A lone doctor dedicated himself to performing operations such as cataract removal for free to the people of his underdeveloped country. He saw this problem first hand and immediately took action because he knew he could provide a much needed service for his people. The way he was able to fund his practice was that at a standard rate, one paying procedure could fund a multitude of procedures that he could then provide for free. Also, his cause was noticed by an American businessman who provided him with the technology needed for his procedures. The businessman understood that the market price for most of these goods were much higher than the cost to make those tools, and was able to get these items for a much cheaper price for the doctor. Solely from these two miraculous individuals, thousands of people’s eyesight was saved. The men acted selflessly and gave much of their time and money for the betterment of these needy people. As for my own personal solution, I think much can be taken out of their specific situation. To solve this problem we must find people who are willing to give their time and money for the greater good. Eyeglasses can be so much more affordable if producers chose to market them closer to their actual production value. Companies will certainly lose profit, but with convincing, I am sure we would be able to get funds and donations to supply the people with glasses. In addition, we would need field workers to go to these underdeveloped countries and determine who needs what magnifications. This is a much easier task compared to surgery; it is only a matter of finding those that are willing to help. Just like how we in GSIF have brought together 50+ members willing to help on these projects, we just need to provide people with an opportunity to help and let those that care come and volunteer. Overall, we would need to advertise for volunteer help in field work, teach these volunteers how to perform these checkups, and pitch our idea to eyeglass production companies to help us with donations or cheaper prices on glasses. This plan relies heavily on people being selfless and willing to help, but these people are out there and it is our job to find them and give them this opportunity to make a difference. 

One thought on “GSIF Blog Post Week #1

  1. Hi David,
    Great blog post! I think the businessman you refer to may be Dr. V, an Indian eye doctor (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Govindappa_Venkataswamy) but I’m not sure. One additional consideration would be sustainability – if you are relying on field workers and donations, will you need them on an ongoing basis? Is there an approach that would make the systems in developing countries self-sufficient after they are set up?

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