Tag Archives: internship

Week 7

Finishing off the seventh week of my internship!

I don’t really know what to write about this week.

I started off the week researching the TSA’s policy on chemicals in checked baggage. We’re planning on printing field test kits, pathoscreen, and we wanted to bring them to Panama ing our checked baggage; however, we were concerned the TSA would take them away, as they’re little plastic pouches of white powder. After contacting airlines, the TSA, and the Office for Hazardous Materials Safety, it looks like the pouches will be fine to transport on the airplane as long as we keep the safety sheet with it. Now I need to check custom’s policies and determine if we’ll have any problems there.

Now I’m focusing my research on well drilling, and specifically well drilling in Panama. I will be creating an evaluation form to decide where a well should go (physical features, assessing aquifers), and what the questions to consider are. I will research drilling close to the shoreline: what restrictions we have, how far away we should go, etc, and if there are any geologic & topographic maps of the Ngobe Bugle comarca or the Bisira township specifically, and Las Lajas (to get an idea of aquifers/surface features). Right now I’m in the preliminary stages of the research; familiarizing myself with the basics and terminology, etc. More on this next week!
In other news, the article I submitted to the Journal of Water and Health has been assigned a manuscript number and is under review. Hopefully I will hear more soon.

Yesterday, Rachael and Josh went to Indianapolis to have an important meeting with Juan. I wanted to go, but I couldn’t get off work at Evangeline’s, so unfortunately, I could not tag along. Juan is our main contact in Panama. He has a church in David, and often travels to the comarca. Working with and having a good relationship with Juan and David’s Well is essential, at this point in time, to the success of our projects in Panama. The meeting went really well! We got the go ahead for our trip in August. I don’t have any more details yet, but that means we can start booking flights and arranging transportation, and planning the trip in detail!

A lot of really exciting stuff is happening with Water for Panama. Unfortunately, I cannot share most of it with you because the information is extremely confidential or it’s not official yet. So, look out we’ll have some very exciting announcements in the near future.

Our bike fundraising campaign is going extremely well. We are only $150 away from our goal of raising $1,000! We’re continuing training, as the ride is only three weeks away.
Link to the fundraiser: https://www.crowdrise.com/BikeforCleanWater

Rachael got a kitten. She brought him to the office monday because he cries if you leave him alone.

Rachael got a kitten. She brought him to the office monday because he cries if you leave him alone.

His name is Toulouse, and he is crazy adorable. Just look at that little bow.

His name is Toulouse, and he is crazy adorable. Just look at that little bow.

Rachael showing off our Sawyer hollow fiber membrane filter

Rachael showing off our Sawyer hollow fiber membrane filter

Me, enjoying some of the awesome filtered water

Me, enjoying some of the awesome filtered water

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Week 5

One of the side effects of being on summer break from college is that everyone asks what you’re doing. Normally it’s kind of a rude question to ask what someone is doing with their life, what their achievements are, but for some reason when you’re in college it’s okay for someone to ask what your deepest hopes and dreams are, and how you’re going to accomplish them in the next few years. Luckily, I have a pretty decent response to this question. This summer I have had to recited this reply so many times I basically have a monologue memorized:

“Oh well I’m interning for a non-profit that rents an office space in the Central West End from TechArtista. The non-profit is called Water for Panama. We work to bring clean water solutions to indigenous villages in Panama. I’m working as the organization’s Chief Science Officer this summer. I conduct research, and collect data for them, allowing them to go forward in their work better informed and more targeted in their efforts to combat the water crisis.”

More often than not people respond that they’re amazed by this work, that they wish they had done something like that when they were younger/ in college/ didn’t have kids. I also get people who respond that they wish they had chosen jobs/ careers/ life paths that helped people like I am during my internship. They wish they had realized the value of having higher meaning in their work before they had chosen their career path. They depress themselves contemplating the deep meaninglessness that comes out of their toil at their 9 to 5, or the 9 to 5 they plan to have after they have their degree.

I have two reoccurring responses to these reactions to my summer work. I usually keep them to myself since I try to make a point of not moralistically lecturing strangers on a daily basis (despite the many many times I think I would be completely justified in doing so). I plan to share them here, so if you’re not interested in sage advice from a twenty year old college intern then skip the next few paragraphs.

Firstly, meaning comes from whatever you personally value. Having a meaningful life means spending the time to sit down and figure out what is meaningful to you, why, and how to achieve that meaning. Most people unthinkingly value volunteer work because it’s selfless, it’s important, it’s altruistic, and morally right. People aren’t wrong when they find value in volunteer work and working for non-profits. There’s a deep well of meaning in dedicating time and/ or money to serving people less fortunate than you, in helping manually correct the cosmic injustices that riddle the world. However, people mistake this type of meaning as the only meaning anyone can hope to achieve. Just because there is meaning in this type of work doesn’t mean there isn’t any in any other type of work. It all boils down to doing what you believe in, and what moves you. As long as you can be excited by your career, it sparks your soul, it gets your brain firing, it makes you feel like what you’re doing has real consequences and importance, you have found meaning in your work. Don’t be afraid or ashamed that you aren’t dedicating your life to saving rain forests, battling poverty, or correcting social injustices. There is meaning and value in whatever you invest meaning or value in. The important thing is to decide what it is that gives you personally a sense of achievement and meaning before deciding what you are going to dedicate your life to.

Secondly, it is never too late to achieve meaning in your life. If correcting these social and political injustices is what you find meaning in, but you are only just realizing it, and think that it’s too late to do anything about it, you’re wrong. Just because you haven’t flown to Africa to personally pour clean water into the mouth of a dying child doesn’t mean that you’re not moved by or dedicated to the cause. We don’t need thousands of people leaping on planes and handing out water and medicine; we need people who are dedicated to helping us do the grunt work. We need people who can raise money and awareness. We need people willing to give up a birthday for clean water, to get people to sponsor them to ride their bike, or only eat rice and beans for a month, or whatever else they think people will give them money to do. We need people who will spread the cause like wildfire, and make other people aware that there are problems that need to be fixed, and can be fixed.

(if you are one of these people, and looking for a cause to give your life some meaning, then follow this link: http://www.waterforpanama.org)


Anyway, for the last week I’ve been working on putting together a lab report of the data I spent the last four weeks collecting. Compiling the citations took an entire day, but now I’m focused on the paper, and it’s almost halfway done.

This week we received our MVP water filter! The MVP water filter is a hollow fiber membrane filter that attaches to any 5 gallon plastic bucket, and eliminates bacteria, viruses, parasites, and turbidity. We set it up in our office, tested it out, and demonstrated it to everyone who has visited us for the last few days.

Here are some pictures:


Josh, Chief Financial Officer, cuts a hole in the bucket for the filter.


Me, holding the filter in the WFP office.


On the left is the unfiltered water. On the right is filtered water. This is the power of our work. This is the difference we are trying to achieve in people’s lives.





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