GSIF Week 1 (1/21-1/25)

Hi! Welcome to my first blog post 🙂

I enrolled in this course in the beginning of the Fall 2018 semester without really knowing the extent of what I was getting myself into. I didn’t know what Creative Inquiry was and it probably wasn’t until mid-October that I realized many other creative-inquiry projects were going on. Realizing the impact and scope of this projects and the others has made me really excited about the work we’ve done so far. I have always wanted to make a career out of helping people and really making a difference, which is part of the reason why I decided to study bioengineering. I am well aware that I am fortunate enough to be receiving a world-class education and consistently have access to food and excellent health care. I think it’s important to share these privileges and help others. I had always known that malnutrition was prevalent in many Sub-Saharan countries, so that peaked my interest in malnutrition project. What I didn’t realize until researching background information on Sierra Leone is that the median age in the country is only 19 years old. Twenty-five percent of children do not reach their fifth birthday because of malnutrition and illnesses related to it. I was at a loss for words when I heard these statistics. Work has been done by many NGOs and government organizations, but nothing has stuck. If we can make even just a dent in this number by creating a food that provides the essential micronutrients to children, we could make a much-needed difference. I’m optimistic that our food will help in treating micronutrient deficiencies in children between 6 and 24 months old.

This project as already helped me see the bigger impact of what I’m studying, giving me more motivation to really get things done and see the potential impact of what I’m doing. Sometimes work in other classes can be tedious and it’s hard to imagine its real purpose, but this project is nothing like that. As a junior, I’m getting into the higher level bioengineering coursework where professors assign many more group assignments and projects. Working on the malnutrition team, I have learned the benefits and struggles of working on a team more than ever before because we have now been working together for an entire semester. We learned the struggles of connecting our schedules but also the benefits of working together to develop new, more creative ideas than we could have discovered individually. This teamwork experience has already helped me become a better, more efficient team member in my other classes. Finally, with the freedom of the creative inquiry process, it’s easy to procrastinate and let work slip, but by working on a project that really will have a direct impact on people, it’s made me realize the importance of facilitating ideas in an efficient and timely manner. It’s something our team didn’t really realize until the tail-end of the semester that deliverable deadlines can kind of creep up on us. With that being said, I’ve learned the importance of setting my own goals and deadlines and be proactive about the work I’m doing.

Over one billion people who need eyeglasses do not have access to them. Many of these people live in developing countries with high poverty levels and very few eye doctors and subsequently have a poorer quality of life and deteriorating health. I think it’s easy to say that we can donate money and glasses frames and use things like doctors without borders to help people, but that would only have a short term effect. In the beginning, these donations are probably necessary because of the lack of resources in these countries, but once eye doctors and treatments have been established, it would be more effective for NGOs and sponsors to educate and train people in these developing countries of the importance of protecting their eye health, and show that deteriorating eye health can lead to what would have been preventable blindness. Providing a kickstart in manufacturing and educating people to become ophthalmologists would be a longer process but could provide a long term effect on eye treatments in developing countries. Really teaching people the importance of taking care of their eyesight then teaching them ways to do so would help current and future generations make lasting changes in fighting preventative blindness.