Traveling to Kenya with ASU in June 2019 has been the catalyst for much personal growth for me, and it completely changed my perspective on engineering. From this experience, I have realized my passion lies in Peace Engineering: helping communities engineer local, sustainable solutions to community-driven projects. Over the course of the month, we worked with the local Maasai community on a variety of engineering projects that had originated from within the community. We helped develop an e-commerce shop for women to sell their jewelry to a global audience, contributed to the continued progress on the first Maasai-owned automotive garage, constructed waste receptacles for a local community center, and worked with primary- and secondary school students, sharing with them our own experiences as engineering students. Putting the engineering skills I have learned in the classroom to use in partnership with this community helped me fully realize how I can use my strengths to foster positive change in our world.
In addition to the many hours we dedicated to these projects, we also had many opportunities to learn more about the Maasai community and the beautiful land of the Maasai Mara. At night, we would gather around the fire and share stories and songs and a strong sense of togetherness, enjoying the food of the Mara. We explored the Mara on several safaris, seeing lions and elephants and many other incredible animals, and attended several cultural celebrations, including a graduation ceremony for the most recent group of safari guides. It was with heavy hearts that we left after a month in Kenya, but I am hopeful to return some day, and I know I will continue to experience the personal impact and growth this trip has sparked in me long into the future.