Living Village

As part of SMU’s first Engineering & Humanity Week in April 2011, students will live, cook their meals and sleep in temporary shelters designed to house people living in extreme poverty or displaced by war and natural disasters. Students, faculty and local members of the community will build the “Living Village” on the SMU campus lawn, showcasing structures ranging from standard-issue United Nations tents to the experimental EcoDome (sandbag shelter), which uses wire to stabilize walls constructed of long, earth-filled tubes.

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Engineering with a purpose: Day 2

An entry from Jonathan, a senior EMIS major:

What a beautiful morning! We have now stayed two nights at the Living Village on SMU’s exquisite campus, and what an experience it’s been.

Our first night was spent with live music, volleyball and s’mores. Everyone went off to bed around midnight, but due to the physical activity of volleyball, I was still wide awake and energized. I decided to decompress by playing some acoustic guitar, which I hoped would help calm everyone in the camp as we went to sleep. (I have a feeling it did!) Nothing helps relax you like “Romanza” played lightly on a cool night under the stars!

I went to bed in the Hexayurt around 1 a.m. and woke up feeling beaten by the hard ground. Like others, I jolted awake several times and only achieved light sleep -imagine having to spend the night like this for several months surrounded by thousands of other people. Quite sobering.

Last night, a few of us threw the frisbee around starting at 10 p.m., which was a wonderful way to end the hectic day. After a full schedule of class, E&H luncheons, panels, homework, senior design, and my on-campus job, I was ready for some mental R&R. NOTE: throwing a frisbee outfitted with LEDs is the perfect remedy for a stressful day! I managed to procure a cot and this contributed to much better sleep.

Finally, I can appreciate how humor, physical activity and games would help immensely in a refugee and/or emergency camp situation. These keep your sanity and provide a terrific group bonding experience. Overall, this has been one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had. When you spend days working outside, connecting with people and building something from the ground up, it’s utterly fulfilling when you stand back and witness the fruits of your labor.

If there are any engineering jobs remotely similar to this, please sign me up now!

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