Wow, what a crazy last few weeks!. Between learning all about EWB, planning my vacation, finishing school, and moving to a new house, it seems like I always have a to-do list a mile long. However, these are all exciting, fun and new things, and I’m excited to have so much going on!
Defending my Thesis
At the end of April, I finally finished writing everything for my thesis (entitled “Income-Generating Products for People with Disabilities in the Majority World: Understanding the Complexities of Participatory Design in Rural Uganda”). The program at Carleton gave me an amazing opportunity to work with two different faculties (Industrial Design and African Studies / International Development), work with local partners (including an Ottawa-based NGO call CanUgan who raises funds for a group of people with disabilities in Kasese, who advocate for people with disabilities) and best of all, to travel to Uganda in February for two weeks of research.
Two weeks after writing, I defended my thesis, which went well (see pictures above). After revisions, I submitted my final draft on May 16, and am officially done my grad studies (see photo above of Steve and I celebrating). Along with the undergraduate students in the Uganda group, we hosted an information session where we got to network with those working in the field, and were even featured on the Carleton website (screenshot above). It was an amazing two years, but I’m so happy to be done!
As part of my placement, I have committed to raising $4500 for EWB Canada, the Ottawa Chapter, and the specific venture I’ll be working with in August called Mobile Business Clinic in Ghana. My first event was a comedy night at Absolute Comedy on Preston Street. It was a night full of laughs, and I’m happy everyone came out. Congrats to those who won the raffle prizes and the 50/50 draw! I will also be having a bowling event in July. If you can’t attend the events, or you still want to help, check out my crowd-funding website. Not only can you donate money, but you can also get great gifts in exchange, such as souvenirs, post-cards, Ghanaian food or local art. I appreciate all of your support, so stay tuned for more information.
What do I Bring?
So, I do not pack light (this is what happened when I lived in Australia for 6 months)! However, EWB has told me to only bring one backpack for my entire 4 months, yikes! So I bought a spiffy new bag, and am going to practice when planning my trip to South America. Although it seems like I’m planning really far in advance (I don’t leave until August), I actually only have 2 weeks in Ottawa when I get back before I head to Toronto for training. Therefore, I’m trying to figure out as much as possible right away. This also means I can’t bring my computer which I love, since it’s a behemoth that weighs a ton, and the idea of bringing it on a motorcycle taxi to work every day seems dreadful. So I bought a tablet that turns into a laptop, and I’m hoping that works much better. The battery also lasts over 10 hours, which seems practical if living in a country where power outages happen frequently. I’ve been told I should only bring 5 pairs of underwear, but there’s no way I’m following that guideline! Let’s see how packing for my short trip goes first…
Meds and Such
Not only does travelling to a foreign country involve flights and visas, immunizations and medications are also super important to avoid getting really sick while abroad. Fortunately I just got back from Uganda so my Yellow Fever, Typhoid, and routine shots are all accounted for already. However, I still needed TB tests, blood work, and almost $1000 worth of medication to take while I’m there (most of that was daily malaria pills)! Last year, most of the Junior Fellows in Ghana got malaria anyway, so I’ll have to be really careful with my bed-net, bug repellent, and malaria pills so that I hopefully don’t get it too *fingers crossed*.
Wow, packing is a lot of work! Not only the physical exertion of picking things up and sorting through, but also emotionally when you have to throw out things you no longer need (such as all the design models I spent hours crafting). However, I believe that minimal living and reducing clutter can make you happier, and I still have way too much stuff.
I’ll have to pack again for my big trip to South America, and again in a few months to go to Ghana, so I’m sure I’ll get lots of practice (though I can’t guarantee that packing light will even be my specialty!).
So today I actually moved out! My back (and every muscle in my body) is aching, but it feels nice to be done. Half of my stuff is in storage lockers (thanks mom!) and the other half I have with me at my temporary home for the next few months (my boyfriend Steve’s apartment). It’s weird to never return to a place where I lived for the last four years, but I’m sure I’ll have many exciting new homes over the next couple of months that I will grow to love just as much 🙂
So what’s next? This week I have to write a paper for a conference I’m hoping to attend in September on Design for the Other 90% (in South Africa), finish a presentation for a conference I’m attending about Accessibility (in Ottawa in July), study up on some EWB essentials, and on Wednesday I’m leaving for South America. Wish me luck!