Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Peace Corps Volunteer Spotlight: Alexandra Chen 我女儿陈影在和平队

Village Life in Zambia 赞比亚的乡间生活

Alex (sitting) helps locals in Zambia, Peace Corps. 我女儿陈醒(坐者)在赞比亚


Peace Corps Volunteer Spotlight: Alexandra Chen

Country of Service: Zambia
Title: Heath Education Volunteer
Time in Country: 2008–Present

My daughter Alex Chen in Washington DC, Smithsonian event to demonstrate applicable technology in under-developed world. 我女儿陈醒在华盛顿展示和平队的工作

Alexandra of Los Angeles, California, served two years in a village working on fish farming and public health projects. She extended her Peace Corps service for a third year to help the marketing department at the University of Zambia's Technology Development and Advisory Unit. Alexandra also supports the university's Research and Consultancy Department. The Yale University graduate is also the appropriate technology resource coordinator for Peace Corps/Zambia and works with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) D-Lab, organizing and establishing appropriate technology resource centers in the country.

Smithsonian FolkLife Festival: Alexandra and others from the Peace Corps/Zambia team will demonstrate appropriate technology projects they are promoting in workshops and resource centers through the country. The focus of these projects is to use village resources to improve the standard of living by providing energy, fighting disease, and ensuring food security. They will demonstrate how to create charcoal with corncobs, hand–washing stations, solar–food dryers, treadle pumps, pedal–powered cellphone chargers and clothes washers, coolers, cookers, smokers, maize hullers, and fuel–efficient stoves.

Smithsonian Folklife Festival/Washington DC/July 2011

Appropriate Technology

“Appropriate Technology” embraces solutions that are relatively simple and economical, but that are also effective and appropriate to the culture and environment from which they emerge. Appropriate technologies are those that best utilize local traditions and limited resources to solve problems in ways that are most acceptable and affordable to their users.

In many countries around the world, Peace Corps volunteers are working with community groups and partner organizations to help identify and implement the most appropriate technologies available. In Zambia, for instance, these have taken the form of solar food dryers, charcoal from agricultural waste, pedal-powered cellphone chargers, hand-held maize shellers, and simple hand-washing stations known as “tippy-taps.”

The success of any appropriate technology depends in part on the involvement of local people in its planning, design, and implementation. These types of collaborations have been essential to the Peace Corps experience throughout its fifty-year history.


Alexandra Chen, Zambia, Peace Corps Volunteer

Alexandra served as a Peace Corps volunteer for two years in a Zambian village working on fish farming and public health. She extended her work to partner with the Technology Development and Advisory Unit (TDAU) at the University of Zambia. Alexandra splits her time between building capacity at TDAU and coordinating the launch of Appropriate Technology centers for Peace Corps Zambia.

Henry Chilufya, Lusaka, Zambia, Peace Corps Staff

Henry provides training and technical support to volunteers and counterparts in sustainable agriculture, agroforestry, beekeeping, and appropriate technology. He attended the MIT D-Lab’s International Design and Development Summit in Ghana and participated in three D-Lab trainings in Zambia. Henry is the lead staff in setting up Peace Corps Zambia’s Appropriate Technology centers.

Elizabeth Spellman, Woburn, Massachusetts, Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, Zambia

Elizabeth served as a Peace Corps health volunteer from February 2008 to May 2011 in Zambia. In her first two years, she focused primarily on nutrition and sustainable agriculture, working with home-based caregivers. In her third year, Elizabeth worked as volunteer leader and wrote the training manual for new volunteer leaders.

Kofi Taha, Watertown, Massachusetts, D-Lab/MIT

Kofi co-leads D-Lab’s Creative Capacity Building projects. These efforts strive to teach the technology design process to people living in poverty and to support sustainable local innovation. D-Lab, a program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, works to develop and implement sustainable, low-cost technology to improve the quality of life in low-income households. Kofi has facilitated training in Ghana, Uganda, and Haiti, and worked with Peace Corps Zambia to establish its Appropriate Technology centers.

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