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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Glass half full

An entry from Taylor, a first-year civil engineering major:

After a week of sleeping on the pleasantly soft ground, I have decided to look past the initial discomfort and speak about a couple positives that I noticed while staying in the ShelterBox.

Even though I woke up every morning feeling like I had lost a fight the night before, I was dry, and clean, and warm(ish). Comparing my shelter to some of the others in the village, I was spoiled! (But I did find out I was one of only a few who was still sleeping without a cot.) I didn’t have to sleep on the grass because the ShelterBox tent had a built-in tarp floor, protecting me from bugs and dirt. There is also a lip at the entrances so that, if there would be any flooding, the ground would have stayed dry. The tent was also enclosed so that my nights were not disrupted by any winds.

I am not going to pretend that it was the greatest week of sleep I have ever experienced, but I will say that I would be more than thankful for a shelter to keep me from the elements. I can’t begin to imagine what it is like for people to sleep without any kind of shelter.

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