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How Uganda Has Prepared Me For Guatemala

How Uganda Has Prepared Me For Guatemala

December 22, 2015

Authored by Erin Cummings, a water engineer in CH2M’s Chicago office and passionate EWB volunteer. She will serve in the role of hydrology lead for the volunteer team traveling with EWB to Guatemala in January 2016.

For the past 5 years, I’ve been working for CH2M by day and the non-profit organization Engineers Without Borders (EWB) by night: Water Engineer here at CH2M and Water Supply Project Manager for the Greater Cincinnati Professional Chapter (GCP) of EWB. I’ve been traveling to Uganda with EWB-GCP once per year over the past 3 years, and I plan to go again in March. CH2M has always been a huge supporter of our effort in Uganda, but now my two worlds are colliding even more. When I saw the application for a CH2M EWB Service Corps project in Guatemala (this project is a feasibility study for the recommissioning of a micro hydro dam as well as monitoring of a previous micro-hydro project), I jumped at it! I could barely contain myself when I got the hydrologist position.

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Working in Uganda previously with EWB.

Working in Uganda previously with EWB.

I’m looking forward to applying the experience I’ve gained in Uganda on the Guatemala project – from assessing and implementing water projects, to hosting impromptu community meetings, to digging a pea-sized parasite out of my foot. While I’m intimately familiar with hydraulics, hydrology, and EWB, this opportunity will be a learning experience for me. First off, I’ve never been to Guatemala, and second, I don’t have much background in hydro drams. Learning about those two things, in addition to working with such a highly-qualified team, is what I’m most excited about. This team has extremely strong technical skills and cultural knowledge, consisting of international development experts, specialized technologists, and folks who were born or have lived in Guatemala.

What I love most about EWB is that it gives me an opportunity to apply my skills where they’re needed most. I’m proud to work a company that not only supports this sort of project, but invests in it and makes it happen.

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