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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Documenting travels of humility


    Brenna Wagner, a junior in chemical engineering, peruses the array of photos captured by graduate students within the School of Geography and Development on their studies abroad at Cafe Passé on Thursday. Wagner said she came to the exhibit to support and view her friend’s work.

    Bringing back shared experiences from abroad, graduate students of the School of Geography and Development displayed photographs of their summer excursions at Cafe Passé on Thursday.

    Perhaps the perfect way to spend a summer is to help another person while getting to explore the culture of a new country. Kseniya Efremova was given such an opportunity when she traveled abroad as part of the Development Practice program. The program strives to make students better equipped to address the issues of global poverty, inequality and social exclusion.

    For her field practicum, Efremova went to the Dominican Republic to work for an international nongovernmental organization called Good Neighbors.

    Founded in South Korea in 1991, the organization focuses primarily on community development projects, child education and emergency relief.

    Children in the Dominican Republic are highly at risk for intestinal parasites due to a lack of access to clean drinking water and sanitation. Efremova planned and implemented a de-worming program for approximately 400 children in order to prevent and terminate existing parasitic infections.

    “This is an opportunity for people to not only see our photos,” Efremova said, “but to hear stories from our field assignments and to ask questions about what we are doing in the field to address the issue of global poverty.”

    Chantel Welch, also a member of the program, went to Myanmar for nine weeks with an American NGO called Winrock International.Winrock International does farmer-to-farmer exchanges, where the organization brings a farmer from the U.S. to do training for farmers in other countries who have asked for help with a project.

    While Welch was there, her group had U.S. farmers conduct trainings on water quality for fish farmers, organic certification, coffee production and market linkages for farmers.

    Welch’s project was to work on the monitoring and evaluation of these projects, make sure the programs are beneficial for the local farmers, follow up with participants in previous trainings, assess their knowledge and help them estimate financial gains.

    Scott Couch spent the past summer working in Bucharest, Romania, with World Vision Romania.

    World Vision is a partner and affiliate of a regional consortium called ChildPact, which represents over 600 NGOs in the Black Sea Region.

    Together, Couch and his team have developed and piloted an index that monitors the level of government action on child protection issues.

    Focusing primarily on current issues facing children with disabilities, one of the most important outcomes was understanding more about the barriers affecting children with disabilities and finding services that may be accessible, since many laws and policies restrict children from receiving sufficient health care.

    Couch conducted in-depth interviews with parents, children with disabilities, social workers and case managers of children with disabilities, local NGOs that work to promote the rights of children with disabilities, and other government workers.

    In his free time, Couch got to explore castles such as the infamous Transylvanian home of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” surrounded by the Carpathian Mountains, as well as getting to indulge in local delicacies such as covrig, which are pretzels topped with different seeds or stuffed with cheese or jams.

    Deeming it a humbling and rewarding experience, Couch said he believes there is a need for better understanding of the human condition and for educating the community, which increases one’s inquisitive nature and passion to help others.

    “We all are far too consumed with throwing out the statistics and numbers that address problems in the world,” Couch said, “but to really see the faces and hear the stories behind those numbers are, to me, the most impactful and long-lasting.”

    The graduate students’ photographs will be on display at Cafe Passé into November.


    Follow Alexandra Paletta on Twitter.

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