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Student blogs portray MIT's international projects

MIT students currently working internationally on sustainable solutions for health access, computer literacy and wheelchair accessibility are maintaining blogs to keep friends, family and the wider Institute community up-to-date on their experiences.

Below are descriptions of their projects and a sampling of their blogs.

Catherine Tweedie

Tweedie is a graduate student in materials science and engineering and a member of the Public Service Fellowship India Team. The team is working on a new project that brings together students from MIT and the Rai Foundation in Delhi to collaborate on health-related projects, from improving access to health services to rehabilitation services for disabled children living in slums, with a number of non-governmental organizations. The team is living on the Rai Foundation Delhi campus and working with organizations in the city. On Thursday, June 14, Tweedie wrote, "Because of the heat, Delhi is continuously breaking its own record for the most power ever used per day in the city (according to the newspapers), which is resulting in planned power outages in every community. The power goes out more than a dozen times in a day."

Find her blog at

Tish Scolnik

Scolnik, a sophomore in mechanical engineering, is a Public Service Fellow working in Tanzania on improving wheelchair technology and enhancing the mechanisms through which disabled people can obtain appropriate mobility aids in Africa.

On Thursday, June 21, Scolnik described testing out the prototype for a new wheelchair in her blog entry that day: "I was so excited I had to take the chair out for a spin. So Daniel accompanied me on his wheelchair and we ventured out in search of some rough terrain. Luckily you don't have to go more than 20 feet to find the potholes of your dreams. I wheeled that chair over the biggest bumps and down into the biggest holes that I could find and it was as sturdy as ever. We rode up and down the road for quite some time, until my arms were thoroughly exhausted. Throughout the day I rode the chair around Mobility Care in a variety of conditions to see how it felt, and it was really quite comfortable! Early next week we will be giving it to somebody to test, and I'll be anxiously awaiting his feedback."

Find Scolnik's blog at

Biyeun Buczyk

Buczyk, a sophomore in electrical engineering and computer science, is a Public Service Fellow working in Uganda this summer. She is working with InterConnection Uganda, a refurbishing center whose mission is to provide community members in Uganda with computer skills and affordable secondhand computers. On Monday, June 4, she wrote, "I spent most of my day in John's old office, testing out the incredibly slow Ugandan Bureau of Statistics' Internet connection. My top speed got around 5 kB/sec. And it certainly doesn't help after being spoiled by MIT's insane Internet connection. Since John's Ministry (ICT) is brand new as of last year, they had to construct a new building. John tells me that he hopes to get a faster connection in that building…no one really wants to deal with the mess at the Bureau of Statistics. In any case I tried out a few tools in Linux which I think could help out with the annoying connection."

To read more, go to

Christina Kang

Kang is a senior in brain and cognitive sciences with an interest in both international development and photography. She is traveling, with partial funding from the MIT Public Service Center, to India, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and China this summer. She will be documenting the various projects--from a rehabilitation center in India to a wheelchair project in Tanzania--the Public Service Fellows have embarked upon. She will be shooting still and video footage and reporting on their projects, the communities they serve, their motivations, how they initiated the project, the bumps along the way, and more. Kang's goal is to showcase students' efforts and accomplishments in a publication documenting MIT student involvement in international development.

On Monday, June 25, Kang wrote, "Friday was painful. The heat was suffocating in the camp we went to, the flies were everywhere, the smell was nauseating, disease was widespread, pain screamed out at me from eyes of children, and scornful eyes burned into me from some of the older women who spit upon the foreigners marching in with their expensive looking cameras taking pictures of their poor state of living conditions. We were welcomed by most, but today was definitely a different experience. I guess I haven't been drinking enough water, because I nearly fainted, so I will start drinking more. But I just wish I could do something to help the people that are suffering."

Kang's blog is at

For more information about these students and their projects, contact Alison Hynd, IDEAS and fellowships coordinator, at

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