|Heavily Laden Buckets Help Students Understand World Water Issues
September 08, 2008
Contact: Bill Giduz
Following the adage, "experience is the best teacher," a group of Davidson students recently hauled five-gallon buckets of water a quarter-mile across campus to their rooms in Duke Residence Halls. Rather than relying on water from the tap, they spent a week transporting their own water in order to understand the vital daily chore of many people around the world.
|May Thu Khine '11 begins the trip from Baker Sports Center to Duke Residence Hall with her daily supply of water. |
At eight pounds a gallon, it was a difficult task for some of the six students involved. But it was also an impactful, important object lesson in the subject they've chosen to study together this year-global water issues.
Daniel Tart '11 explained, "The point was to raise awareness, to make us conscious of how dependent we are on water, and to see how hard life would be without a source of close, clean water."
Rather than just turning on the tap, they carried every drop of water used for drinking, brushing teeth, and bathing. The simulation covered all uses except toilet usage and laundry. "Carrying it ourselves certainly made us aware of how much we were using," said Kelly Lence '11.
The idea for a global water issues theme hall dawned on Rachel Richardson '11 last spring during a meal in Vail Commons. She recalled, "I was drinking a glass of water and all of a sudden realized how water connects countries and issues around the globe. It's central in so many ways, from the education of women, to conservation, sanitation, health, conflicts and pollution."
Richardson recruited five other students to join her in proposing the water issues theme hall, and they recruited Associate Professor of Biology Chris Paradise to serve as their faculty mentor. Paradise teaches a class in environmental studies, and was impressed by the interdisciplinary nature of the water hall proposal. The students plan to approach the subject from four angles-access to water, politics of water, conservation of water, and water's importance in cultural life.
Members of the group are meeting weekly with Paradise to discuss the issues and develop programs. Some activities, such as the week of hauling their own water, will include just the hall members. But the group hopes to raise awareness across campus by sponsoring lectures and movies. They will also plan special activities to celebrate World Water Day on March 22.
Max Win '10 and May Thu Khine '11, international students from Myanmar and members of the water hall, plan to introduce Davidson next April to their homeland's annual water festival. Win explained, "During the festival people go into the streets and pour water on each other's hands to welcome the new growing season and wash away sins. We'll recreate our own water festival here in Davidson."
|The students on the global water hall are (l-r) Kiki Wilson-Tei '11, Rachel Richardson '10, Daniel Tart '11, May Thu Khine '11, Kelly Lence '11, and Max Winn '10. |
The group also plans a charity walk to emphasize the United Nations estimate that about 20 percent of the world's population must travel about six kilometers a day to obtain water. The week of short distance water hauling helped the hallmates recognize the price that water scarcity exacts in wear on the body, as well as time lost that could be used for activities like education.
The global water hall is one of four theme halls at Davidson this year. The others focus on the French language, international women's issues, and East Asian studies.
Davidson is a highly selective independent liberal arts college for 1,700 students located 20 minutes north of Charlotte in Davidson, N.C. Since its establishment in 1837 by Presbyterians, the college has graduated 23 Rhodes Scholars and is consistently regarded as one of the top liberal arts colleges in the country. Through The Davidson Trust, the college became the first liberal arts institution in the nation to replace loans with grants in all financial aid packages, giving all students the opportunity to graduate debt-free. Davidson competes in NCAA athletics at the Division I level, and a longstanding Honor Code is central to student life at the college.
Posted By: Bill Giduz