Why did you enroll in this course (motivation, prior interests)?
Since middle school I have partaken in various activities that helped my communities back home and at school, including serving food at soup kitchens and homeless shelters and tutoring younger children in the local school systems. Although I felt good about partaking in these activities, and knew that these actions did make a positive impact in the communities I was working in, I always felt like I could be doing more. During the work I was doing, I realized that you can give a person in need a few meals at a soup kitchen to keep them fed, but once those meals have been eaten the same problem of poverty, homelessness, and other struggles still remain for that person and other people in their situation. Due to this realization, I have wanted to personally help take on big issues on a much larger scale than just the communities I live in.
When I heard about this project and class, I realized that this would be a perfect opportunity to fulfill that desire. The idea of helping out multiple communities throughout a whole country rather than just focusing on one community like I have done in the past made me very interested and passionate about this project, and doing work that can save lives and create impacts for many years down the road is another reason I have decided to take this course and work on the test strip project.
How do you envision this course making you a better student?
I think taking this course and working on the test strip project will improve my problem solving skills tremendously. As mentioned during the class on Tuesday and in my group meeting, there is a large number of components to the project as well as challenges that have the potential to arise, meaning me and my team will not have an immediate and simple solution we could automatically institute for many of them. This will force me to often have to think outside of the box and creatively make use of my current knowledge in order to overcome the problems that present themselves during both research and fieldwork. Although my experiences in this class and in Sierra Leone will be vastly different than the other courses I will take at Lehigh, the ability to take on difficult problems and effectively solve them through unconventional methods at times is a skill that most definitely comes in handy in any academic field or in any life setting you could find yourself in.
Working in this course and on this project will also improve my teamwork and team management skills. Obviously in a project of this scale, there is no way a single person could take charge in all aspects of what the team is trying to achieve. Projects like these demand that there is good cooperation and cohesion between the group and will force some people to take on leadership roles they may not have filled before. The same goes for many courses in college and outside of school in the working world. This course and project will help me to build upon team managing and team leading skills, and then allow me to take what I learned about teamwork and apply it to my other courses at Lehigh.
What solution do you propose to address the problem of people in developing countries not having access to eyeglasses?
One solution I can think of to approach this issue draws inspiration from a current course of action taken by the prescription glasses company Warby Parker. Warby Parker currently does online prescription glasses sales to people, and in addition to selling to people, they run a program called “Buy a Pair, Give a Pair”. In this program, whenever a customer purchases a pair of glasses from Warby Parker, the company takes another pair of prescription glasses and works with partners worldwide to get the glasses to an underprivileged person who needs them either for free or for a very small price. To date, the company has donated nearly 4 million glasses.
A solution that could be tried to solve this problem would be to create an organization or group that would work with prescription glasses companies and try to get them on board with the idea of implementing their own similar plan to distribute quality glasses to developing nations for free or extremely cheap after a pair is bought domestically. If an organization like this was able to get bigger name glasses companies that sell in higher volumes on board with the idea of donating a pair after selling a pair, the problem of sight for people in need could be diminished greatly. Warby Parker charges much less for glasses than their competitors, but with other glasses companies, the combination of the ability to produce glasses cheap and the same glasses being sold for a very high price in the United States means that some companies could buy into the idea of giving more than one pair of glasses away per purchase, since they are already turning such a high profit per unit.