Friday, August 17, 2012

EWB Africa Conference

            Today is the day of the inaugural EWB-Africa Conference and the first time Lucas tried oatmeal and tea. We woke up early this morning, and traveled to Accra, to the headquarters of the West African mobile giant MTN, where we met the members of EWB-Ghana. Though none of the people present there were members of the student chapters, many were professionals or alumni of Ghanian student chapters. Afterwards, we traveled with them to the MTN plant, where we met with students from EWB-Nigeria, as well as toured the mobile facilities. Never have people taken so many pictures of us before! I swear, we felt like celebrities living in the moment, with the students shuffling toward us and taking our hands, and taking pictures. A lot of us exchanged names and contact information, and afterwards, headed to the Ghanian Institute of Engineers, where the conference was held. It was interesting to interact with these other EWBers, as the African chapters seemingly had much more difficulty raising funds. As a result, they do not have the capabilities to implement projects, and many of them assist other international chapters in implementation. However, we were truly engineers without borders. In the conference room, it did not matter were you came from. We were all united for one cause.

            Our mentor, Alexi, gave the keynote speech. After a bunch of other presentations on project proposals, and auditing, and biogas production from waste, we took a short break to eat our long awaited dinner of... chicken and jelloff rice...again. (It was very tasty though) The honourable Mr. Sammy Gamson (honourable being a title designated for assembly members) gave a rousing closing speech, sharing many pictures of past Columbia projects in Obodan. The Nigerian EWBers especially loved it, letting Sammy know that he could be a very good pastor because of his oratory abilities. After (another) long weary shaking of hands and taking pictures and sharing of information, we took our much needed departure from Accra. We arrived in Obodan after a long car ride, and ended two days of strange but also incredibly eye-opening and interesting experiences.

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