GradSWE Overseas, Liberia

L-SWE SUCCESS 2016: Early Team Report

Greetings from Liberia!

The U-M early team arrived in Liberia late on Wednesday, 10 August 2016. GarnersvilleWe are staying near Barnersville junction with one of the L-SWE students. Her family has been super nice these past few days.

Our first full day in Liberia was spent signing people up for the 2016 L-SWE SUCCESS camp. We visited the University of Liberia – Fendall Campus and watched the Engineering Concept Design Competition organized by GEMCESA (Geology, Electrical, Mining, and Civil Engineering Student Association at the University of Liberia) and sponsored by ExxonMobil and E-HELD (Excellence through Higher Education for Liberian Development). It was quite interesting to see the innovative ideas that the four Liberian project teams imagined. Everything from a car made entirely of Liberian-sourced parts to a set of waterways to improve transit to the Liberian interior.

We also visited the site of the 2016 camp, Rick’s Institute. It is a nice facility and we will share more photos during the camp.

The second day in Liberia was a purchasing day. We bought all sorts of supplies for camp. We spent American and Liberian money. Liberian dollars are called Liberty. One USD is anywhere from 80 to 100 LD depending on the exchange rate.

You can buy lots of things in Liberia in the capital that you would find in the States. They have everything from small roadside markets to bigger indoor grocery stores. We even visited a small store that was like a Liberian Costco – they only sold things by the case/carton/box.

On the third day (Saturday, 13 August 2016), hosted a pre-departure meeting at the E-HELD office on Old Road across from the Nigerian Embassy. We discussed expectations for the camp and answered questions.

Today (Sunday, 14 August 2016), the rest of the U-M team arrives. You will hear from them during the next two weeks. We cannot wait to share all of the great things that will be happening at the camp. The women engineers in Liberia are truly incredible. I, for one, cannot wait to meet more of them!

GradSWE Overseas, Liberia

Reflections on my first overseas flight

By Liz Dreyer, EE PhD student

After 18+ hours of travel, we have finally made it to Ghana. Tomorrow we will depart for Liberia. Since this is my first trip overseas, I want to take a moment and reflect on it and give a quick update before we leave. The internet in our hotel is great right now.

This was my first time flying over the Atlantic Ocean. Although I slept most of the way, it was an awesome view. Early in the morning we caught the sun rising over the ocean. It was incredible! I also really enjoyed the in-plane food and beverage service. Did you know that you actually get complementary dinner and beer/wine when you travel overseas on Delta? Even in Economy! I was pleasantly surprised. It was delicous too. They even served complementary beverages like tea, wine, beer, coffee, and juice.

The next leg was from Amsterdam to Ghana. The Amsterdam airport was complicated but we made it to our gate with plenty of time. KLM provided excellent service and even better food than Delta. It was my first plan ride where English was not the default announcement language. It was third after Dutch and French. The views of the Sahara desert were awesome too. Also, did you know that Diet Coke is called Coke Light in Holland?

After our long flight, we finally made it to Ghana. The Ghana airport is nice enough but customs took over 2 hours. It turns out that Ghanaian visas are a bit complicated. The hotel shuttle left without us because we took so long, but we just caught a taxi instead. We all feel bad about having the shuttle driver wait 2 hours for us and never seeing us. The hotel is clean and we get breakfast in the morning. We leave for Liberia at 12:30 pm on Wednesday. Hopefully the airport is easier this time through.

Overall, it has been a great day of firsts! First time flying over the ocean, first time in Europe, first time in Africa, first time hearing Dutch in person. I cannot wait to see what other firsts we encounter on this trip.

We will post about our activities in Liberia soon. Thanks for reading!

~ Liz