Moving forward with this practicum

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 Jodie Zhu

August 26th, 2015

The trip has finally come to an end. It was funny when one of my group members said that she would choose the same group members if she could. We laughed at it, because we all know that our group is not the most harmonious.

We argued since the beginning of this project. I needed an outline of how the project should go, day by day; the others wanted to go straight to the point and start talking to people on the market right away. Then we could not agree on the issues that we want to focus on, and started policy brief on our own. We each wrote a part – issues at the market, current policy behind these issues, and recommendations to solve the issues.

It drove me crazy when I saw we each identified different issues. The policy paper was not coherent, and do not even mention the presentation slides’ inconsistency in style. All seemed like a disaster to me.

Then we presented to LUANAR faculty and our fellow students. The practice run however, went better than I thought. The inconsistency did not bother our audiences that much. The first two parts, identified issues, and policy behind these issues overlapped a little, and we ran over the time limit.

Other than that the presentation went pretty smooth. I volunteered to cut off my part to shorten our time, but my group member encouraged me to just modify and present anyways. Fingers crossed that our presentation to Lilongwe City Council on the next day would go well. It did, not outstandingly, but it went well. We had a couple questions from the crowd, doubting information on our slides. Majorly on how many water taps, and how waste is collected at Central Market. I felt intimidated when I heard those questions. My group member, however, handled those questions very well, quite diplomatically too.

Then I realized it was alright. People who had questions, they have lived in Lilongwe much longer than we did, and of course they know the market much better than we do.

After the presentation, I was confirmed that MSU, LUANAR and the City Council will bring our work forward. That comforted me. Quoting a friend’s words “after we heard their issues at market, we now also carry the responsibility to solve them.”

I want keep this on my mind. so many of you have come to our market, to do this and that kind of research. But nothing has changed. Now what can you do for us?”

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