- I have a very Type A personality and I believe that my unique and effective design process would illustrate this. I like to thoroughly plan things before beginning to work on them and thus I would begin the design process by writing all of my steps out and then creating a prototype to fit these steps. If I realized that it was not possible, feasible, or reasonable to follow the process, I would adapt and change the written plan as I progressed through the project. Once I created my prototype to the best of my ability, I would have other people look at it so that there would be multiple sets of eyes focusing on it and looking for the mistakes that I would not notice. Afterwards, I would make adjustments based on other suggestions and finalize my model. I would keep the written process updated the entire time so I could do it over again following the process if need be.
- I will validate my sweet potato cake (or other nutritional supplement if we decide to proceed with a different option) fully once I am on the ground in Sierra Leone. Our muffin is a prototype until we get to Sierra Leone and have children taste test it and until we experience the street markets in Sierra Leone and truly understand the cultural implications on our product. Once we have gotten critiques and made appropriate adjustments, we can update our product in whatever ways are necessary. For example, if the children have a specific complaint about the taste of the sweet potato cakes, we can try to adjust the recipe to make the product more appealing to them. If we notice that the sweet potato cakes are too expensive, we can try to make adjustments to lower the cost. Once we are on the ground working and have different input for our product, we will know that it is sufficient and fits well into the Sierra Leonean culture and markets. We have to make sure that it is understood and fits well within the context.
- My philosophy of engagement has its roots in respect and meeting a community on their own level to interact. I believe that knowing your own strengths, weaknesses, and hesitations are important to interacting with any community. It is also important to note and acknowledge similarities and differences between you and the community you want to engage with. Acknowledging differences is a form of respect and will allow for more meaningful engagement. I plan on doing this in Sierra Leone in order to successfully implement our sweet potato cakes and get children interested in them. Meaningful engagement with a community also involves respecting them and not making them feel like victims to a problem going on around them. Engagement is empowering people to be in control of their lives and situations in order to better themselves. This will ne important in Sierra Leone as well. Child malnutrition is a crisis but we do not want the children to feel like helpless victims. We want to help them get the resources they need in order to reverse malnutrition, rather than just handing them a sweet potato cake and telling them that it is a cure all for their problem. It is important to give them the tools to help themselves as a form of respect and real community engagement. Another form of engagement and empowerment is making sure that communities feel like their voices are being heard, listened to, and understood. Ultimately, we are starting initiatives to help others and we want to make sure that they are being helped in the ways that they want to be helped. We do not want to force anything on anybody, as forcing somebody to do something or accept something would be disengagement.
1.Biomimicry is the idea that nature has already solved many of the problems we deal with in our everyday lives and we can use it as a model, mentor, or measure to overcome our challenges. In my own life, I can emulate nature to solve my own problems. In regards to my GSIF project, we are working to make our nutritional supplements more efficient by lowering the costs, as we have parameters we must fit in in order to be successful. We can use forms of energy that nature has proved to be efficient to make sure that our overhead costs in production are as low as possible. Second, we can use nature to create an appeal for our muffins. It is important that they are appealing to children so we can study the things that children like in nature and translate that to our work. Third, people often struggle while doing group work because they may “step on each other’s toes”. If we compare a group to an ecosystem, we can see that people will be more efficient because they all have their specific place.
2. It is important to apply life’s principles to our work in order to optimize our success in creating social value, and to do it sustainably. They encourage us to “maximize benefits with minimal effort and negative impact”, in accordance with nature (S. Patel & K. Mehta). “Integrating cyclic processes” directly applies to our project focusing on malnutrition in Sierra Leone. As a team, we are trying to implement a process in Sierra Leone in order to combat the devastating malnutrition in children. We would like Sierra Leonean women to have the skills and ability to make the sweet potato muffins and generate a profit so that they can continue to make more. As they are able to make more muffins, their process will directly be reducing malnutrition in Sierra Leone’s youth population. They can also teach the process to their children as a second cyclic process, who can then teach their children, and so on. This example is of the learning and imitating that exists in nature.
3. We can and should integrate the Cradle to Cradle Design into our project in order to create ethical processes and be more economically successful and efficient. The Cradle to Cradle Design is the basic idea that processes should not create waste, and that we should not attempt to fix a problem by creating another one. This is extremely important for our malnutrition project. Malnutrition is one of the most critical health problems in Sierra Leone; almost all children are lacking micronutrients. We must be cautious not to create another problem by trying to fix this one. For example, we must be very careful with the design of our packaging. We do not want to create a waste problem by trying to fix hidden hunger. Additionally, we are going to need to plant sweet potato plants so that our process can be sustainable and Sierra Leoneans can continue to make these muffins after we have left. We need to make sure that these sweet potato plants are not taking away from other crops’ farm space. We do not want a shortage of another crop because we are adding sweet potatoes. It is important that when we are implementing a process to fix a problem, that we use the Cradle to Cradle Design so that we are not causing another problem through our intervention.
4. In a conversation about how small the world is, one of my friends introduced me to the concept of “Six degrees of separation”. This means that anybody in the world can be connected to anybody else through a chain of 6 people. Although everybody talks about how the world is so small and everybody is connected, it is crazy to think that through 5 people, I am already connected to everybody in the world. Another interesting concept to me is the Theory of Everything in quantum mechanics. I do not know anything about quantum mechanics or physics but it seems unbelievable to me that there is no theory that describes everything in the world, given nature and science. A third interesting concept that a friend was telling me about is Solipsism. It is the theory that nothing exists besides our own consciousness. It is impossible to verify anything else, because anything else could be just a part of our consciousness.
- The Malnutrition in Children Under Five in Sierra Leone project has many stakeholders that are interested in our venture.
- World Hope: World Hope is the organization that we will work with on our project. They are a NGO that works with vulnerable communities to reduce poverty through entrepreneurial innovations that are empowering and sustainable in the community. They have many nutrition focused projects and our project of creating sweet potato muffins will add to their scope. Our project fits perfectly into their mission.
- Lehigh University / Creative Inquiry: Lehigh and the Creative Inquiry program want our project to be reflective and successful. Their motivation is to have their students make an impact through an innovation, and are concerned with the processes that we will go through and the outcomes that we will reach. Lehigh wants to facilitate creativity through CINQ projects and give students real life experience through their field work.
- Mothers / Grandmothers: Sierra Leonean culture values maternal figures (mothers and grandmothers) in a unique way. They are at the top of the hierarchy and want the best for their children. Many children suffer from stunted and wasted growth in addition to developmental disorders due to micronutrient deficiencies, so mothers want a supplemental, nutritious food that will prevent their child from illnesses caused by severe malnutrition. They are interested in the cost of the product, because they will not want to spend more than 25 cents on it, and on the taste because they want their children to eat it.
- Sierra Leone’s government: The high rate of micronutrient deficiencies in Sierra Leone is severe and debilitating. It compromises individuals who do not have the right nutrients to the point where they might be disabled and unable to contribute to society, reducing the possibility of economic growth. This also causes healthcare costs to increase. The government of Sierra Leone is interested in our project because it is improving the health of children and therefore will improve the economy.
- Potential sellers: Street food is an important part of Sierra Leone’s culture. Many women sell food at markets, so we decided that our sweet potato muffin would fit in with this cultural practice. Potential sellers would be interested in learning the benefits of our product so that they could make them, sell them, and make a profit. They are especially interested in lowering the cost of production as much as possible so that they can make a large profit.
- It is important to validate our project so that it is credible and doesn’t seem like we “pulled in out of thin air”. We have been collaborating with nutritionists and will be reaching out to sensory scientists at Penn State in order to make sure that we are producing a product that is of high quality and will be successful. Speaking to professionals will enhance our credibility because we are building off of their knowledge. Second, we will be collaborating with World Hope International, an NGO that specializes in healthcare innovations in Sierra Leone. Their previous experience with nutrition in Sierra Leone will allow us to confirm that our information is reliable. Additionally, our field work will validate our entire project. We will be on the ground in Sierra Leone interacting with locals to see how they sell street food and their different capabilities, wants, and needs. By talking to them, we can see how viable a sweet potato muffin would be in their community. We can ask them if they have any suggestions, because they know their country better than we do and are likely to have important input that can help our sweet potato muffins to be successful. This will ensure that our work is purposeful and effective. We want to reduce the rate of malnutrition in Sierra Leonean children and we want our work to be valid so that we can reach our goal.. It is so important to partner and collaborate with individuals who have expertise in the subject at hand or views that are different from your own in order to make any research or venture credible.
- Cultural issues have an important influence on our malnutrition project in Sierra Leone. Malnutrition is a huge problem in Sierra Leone but there are many cultural practices that are unique to Sierra Leone that will put limits and boundaries on our project. There are many cultural taboos surrounding food. We need to make sure we are using ingredients that are acceptable for children to eat, because just telling them that they should eat our muffin because it is healthy is not compelling enough. Additionally, we need to make sure that our product is not a burden to any of their resources. For example, if we need to cook the sweet potato muffin in a gas oven, we have to make sure that we aren’t taking gas away from heating their home or other things that they would need gas for. Additionally, we are going to be using sweet potato as the main base for our muffin and are going to want to grow more sweet potatoes in Sierra Leone. It is important that the extra sweet potatoes are not displacing other crops because they are taking up too much space. A third cultural issue to keep in mind is maternal approval. There is a huge cultural maternal hierarchy in Sierra Leone. It is important for mothers and grandmothers to approve of anything that goes on in Sierra Leone, so we need to get them on board with our muffin for their children
- I am participating in a Health Equity Internship at the Hispanic Center Lehigh Valley right now, working with the Food Pantry. The clientele, and South Bethlehem in general, is mostly Hispanic, so HCLV has to make sure that they are not providing anything that goes against their culture. For example, the HCLV tried to give seniors quinoa instead of white rice because it is healthier, but quinoa is not popular in the Hispanic culture, so it was not accepted. Additionally, I have noticed that gentrification is disturbing South Bethlehem. The city has put in new, expensive restaurants but these are disrupting the South Bethlehem community because residents are not able to afford the restaurants. Also, these restaurants are putting smaller, local businesses out of business and residents are losing their jobs. Third, although maternal approval is not as important here as it is in Sierra Leone, anything that is being given to children does need to be parentally approved otherwise it won’t be useful and practical.
- Sierra Leone has many cultural aspects that we can actually take advantage of for our project. Street food is a very important component to Sierra Leone and we are going to sell our muffins as street food. It is accessible and will ensure that more children will eat our muffins to improve their health. We can also take advantage of their maternal hierarchy. If we can get mothers to support our muffins, they will give them to their children. Finally, we can take advantage of their agricultural industry to grow local foods for our muffins. It will be cheaper to use ingredients that they grow themselves.
- The African contexts offers different challenges and resources to our venture than the American context. One challenge of the African context is that food cannot be accessed if it is out of season. For example, we need a lot of sweet potatoes and need to figure out how to preserve them so that they will be accessible even outside of the growing season. Otherwise, our muffins will not be sufficient. However, the African context also benefits our project. Sierra Leone has a very informal economy and people often take on small ventures to make money. Sierra Leonean women can sell these muffins in the market. The muffins will fit in with typical business ventures that women engage in.