Editor’s note: This is one of a series of posts by students from Michigan State University in the U.S. and LUANAR University in Malawi who participated in the Frugal Innovations Program of the Global Center for Food Systems Innovation.
By Lindsay Strong
Muddy alleyways outlined with trash smoothly laid against the ground. Vendors aggressively shouting at you to buy products from them; “hey beautiful sister; come see these tomatoes- you buy?”
The foreign smell of Malawi markets, filling my lungs. I was yet to accommodate myself to the hustle and bustle of Malawian people sweeping past me.
The curious looks from the people reminded me that I was a stranger to this new environment. The intensity of the market let the apprehension creep into my mind, allowing my fears to come loose.
As a young, white and suburban female, I was not used to judgment from others, I was used to others looking past me- just fitting into the ‘norm’. Here I was far from the norm; I was in a land where people associated the color of my skin with the amount of money I accumulated. The assumption followed me everywhere and affected my interactions with the population.
I was seen as a symbol and that bothered my soul. In the markets, there is much work to be done. The main issue arising as infrastructure and disguising itself in issues such as sanitation and transportation.
The veil must be lifted as we continue into the practicum, in order to solve real-world problems (or rather third world problems). I have high hopes for the solutions that the teams will expose as we interpret problems in the market.