With the summerâ€™s end came the unfortunate departure of its interns. Last night we had a â€˜despedidaâ€™ (going away party) for the last two, Kelli and James. We dined at Babylon, a fantastic little international bistro by the central park, and relived a few of the summerâ€™s memories. In addition from the incredible work completed, all fourteen of the interns (hailing from three different continents) shared a common theme: not wanting to leave.
Xela is an incredible place, and it can be likened to an onion with many layers. It is often seen that many â€˜extranjerosâ€™ arrive for just a few days or weeks and stay for months, or longer. The climate is great, the expenses low, and the people are famous for their kindness. If combined with interesting daily work, itâ€™s no wonder why people stick around. In the case of James and Kelli, both were immersed in their element: designing and building appropriate technologies. Between these two, a water filter prototype, a modified ram pump, a reservoir for a hydroelectric system, and a water tower/solar hot water system were designed/built. Not being an engineer, it was fascinating for me to watch their progress over the months. However satisfying it was to witness the completion of these projects and to get to know them, itâ€™s hard to see them leave. James and Kelli said they were going to come backâ€”and I canâ€™t wait, because thereâ€™s much more work to be done in the development and installation of these types of technologies in Guatemala and across the developing world.
Peter Haas and Benny Lee of the AIDG are going to be teaching a course at Yestermorrow Design and Build School on “Low Cost Do-it-Yourself Renewable Energy Systems”.
Date: Dec 3-8, 2006
Duration: 1 week
Many people assume that renewable energy systems are out of their price range and technologically complex. That doesnâ€™t have to be the case. This new week-long course will present several low cost, low tech options for introducing renewable energy systems and ecological design strategies into your home. Class lectures will cover a variety of systems, including hydroelectricity, wind power, biodigesters, solar hot water, water filtration units, high efficiency stoves, and small-scale foundries. In addition, students will gain hands-on experience with three renewable energy systems: using ram pumps to move water, building a basic greenhouse for add-on passive solar home heating, and creating a biodiesel reactor to produce energy from waste vegetable oil for home heating and vehicle use. The instructors will also discuss the application of these technologies in a developing country context.
Click here to register for the course.
We want to take a moment and highlight some of the blogs of our volunteers/interns from the past 2 years.
If you’ve volunteered with us in the past and blogged about your experience with us or are writing about related work, please drop us a line. We’d love to hear from you. (We obviously still want to hear from you even if you are a pastry chef in NYC, study orangutans in Borneo or are a masseur in Thailand).
Disclaimer: The opinions and views expressed in these outside links are those of the authors and do not necesssarily represent the opinions of the AIDG.
Steven Crowe joined the AIDG team earlier this year. Here is a little information on our new Guatemala Program Manager.
Steve Crowe graduated from Gannon University in Erie, PA with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and Energy Systems design in 2004. Prior to joining AIDG he ran a private consultancy on mid-scale photovoltaic systems and worked in facilities engineering for Rocket Systems Inc. He lives with his lovely wife, Waleska, in Xela a short commute from Xelateco.
Are you smart, motivated, and enthusiastic? Well, the AIDG needs you! We are currently expanding our internship program in Guatemala where our business incubation model is in full swing. Our mission is to promote the use of appropriate (read affordable, environmentally sound, and locally repairable) technologies in developing countries. We are looking for interns to assist our incubated business, XelaTeco. Continue reading
As you might imagine, the AIDG takes very special care in selecting locations for our workshops. In the year before a proposed expansion, we do significant background research on the region of interest, identifying potential city hubs. Six months to a year before expansion, the incubation director and one or more AIDG staff members perform several 2-3 week assessment trips in the proposed country. We meet with local NGOs, assess regional infrastructure capabilities and rural need, determine the availability of vendor tools/materials and affordable shop locations, assess regional manufacturing capabilities, evaluate security threats and other risks, investigate the legal framework and structure, and assess the general tourism infrastructure. Continue reading
Just passing on some lessons learned.
1. Beggars CAN be choosers and stop calling them beggars.
2. Cool does not necessarily equal useful.
3. Do you really understand the population being served and their needs?
4. Is the product/service actually better than what is currently being used?
5. Good ideas don’t always sell themselves.