Barrett students MAKE their ideas happen

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February 10, 2013

Kathleen Stefanik, a Barrett honors student majoring in applied psychology, is looking forward to traveling to Cusco, Peru in May to work on a project that will help people in rural farming communities live more healthfully and productively.

Jesse St. Amand, and Tyson Stevenson, both honors students and engineering majors, will travel along with Stefanik and participate in the project.

It’s all part of a new class called MAKE Your Ideas Happen that was offered for the first time this Spring at the ASU Polytechnic and Downtown campuses in partnership with GlobalResolve.

GlobalResolve is a social entrepreneurship program that enhances ASU students’ educational experience by involving them in projects that directly improve the lives of people in under-
developed nations throughout the world.

Through GlobalResolve, ASU students and faculty collaborate with international universities, rural villages, local governments, financial institutions, and non-governmental organizations
(NGOs) to develop and disseminate no-tech, low-tech, and high-tech solutions that address pressing public health or environmental needs of a developing-world population.

The trio, along with three other students in their class, are still finalizing plans for their project, however they’ve decided to focus on two issues; teaching the Peruvians about a method that will reintroduce nutrients into farmland soil and the use of alternative fuel sources that emit less harmful toxins than burning wood.

Stefanik explained that farmland in Peru has been overused and stripped of nutrients, making it useless for growing crops.

“Peru has more than 300 varieties of potatoes but crops are dwindling because farmers haven’t used crop rotation and nutrients have been taken out of the soil without replacing them. This has led to starvation in some areas,” she said.

The group hopes to partner with a university in the Netherlands to teach Peruvians the “terra preta” method in which nutrient-rich charcoal and organic compost is mixed with the soil,
turning it into the dark and fertile earth needed to sustain crops.

Another facet of their project will address the problems that arise from wood burning for cooking. Most households use wood for cooking fires and heat. The problem is that all too often
the fire is in an unventilated space, resulting in exposure to toxic smoke and fumes. The students aim to help families learn about and use other more clean, efficient and safe forms of fuel for cooking and heating.

“It’s exciting. It makes my life make more sense to help other people. We have so much in this country and doing something like this changes my perspective and helps me realize how much
we can use our knowledge to benefit others,” Stefanik said.

Mark Henderson, Barrett Honors College associate dean at the Polytechnic campus who is leading the MAKE Your Ideas Happen course, said the trip to Peru will be GlobalResolve’s
first foray into South America. GlobalResolve projects are already in Asia, Africa, and North America.

In addition to the Polytechnic and Downtown campuses, the MAKE Your Ideas Happen course (CTI 297) will be offered at the Tempe campus in the fall.

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