Tonga

I recently return home from a marvelous trip to Tonga with about 25 other students and two professors from BYU. It was wonderful!

In short:

  • When: May 8 – 22 (14 days, including 2 days of travel)
  • Purpose of trip: Demonstrate to the Kingdom of Tonga how to convert coconut oil into biodiesel
  • It went very well; we were given an audience with the honorable minister of agriculture, the honorable minister of tourism, and the husband of the princess (the Tongan prince).
  • The government will decide what to do with the information.
  • Yes, you really can convert coconut oil (and many other vegetable oils, including used cooking oil) to make diesel fuel

Photos

Over 300 photos from Katey O’Laughlin:

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Life is service


Full service.

Originally uploaded by Reinar.

Early in the semester, I had a professor suggest that we go out and “do something more” related to engineering.

I experienced a marvelous awakening. I am enrolled in the Global Engineering Project class, which is supported by the BYU Engineers Without Borders (EWB) club . Early in the semester, I applied for and was selected to be the club historian. As such, I am a member of the club’s executive committee. I was also appointed to be the representative of EWB to the Engineering & Technology Student Council (ETSC). These two opportunities have been wonderful! My eyes have been opened to the many opportunities I have to serve, and I have gained a glimpse into the student leadership in the college.

As you may or may not be aware, Engineers Without Borders is a nation-wide organization. From their website :

Engineers Without Borders – USA (EWB-USA) is a non-profit humanitarian organization established to partner with developing communities worldwide in order to improve their quality of life. This partnership involves the implementation of sustainable engineering projects, while involving and training internationally responsible engineers and engineering students.

When I think about the marvelous spirit behind such an organization, I am deeply moved. This semester, I have decided to change my career, in large part because of the experiences I have had and will have with this organization. I am now considering fields such as International Development and Information Systems. I want to serve people, full-time. I want to make a difference in the world. I want to feed the hungry and clothe the naked. When I think about a career that involves helping raise people up from poverty to a level of self reliance, I am overcome with joy. I give thanks to God that I have been given such a wonderful opportunity to serve.

Serving on the ETSC Council has made me realize this truth: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has ” -Margaret Mead . The ETSC is composed of a few executive officers who coordinate with representatives from the many student-run clubs in the engineering college.

For the first time in my life, I was in a well-planned and well-executed meeting! It was efficient, short; reports of previous assignments were given; new assignments were delegated; the secretary was furiously typing the meeting minutes, struggling to keep up with the wonderful pace of the meeting. I attribute the success of the meeting to the council’s president, Berlin Kowallis. She is a commanding character and an example to me. During the few meetings that I attended, I realized the importance of each person at our meetings. I realized my own importance as a representative from the EWB club.

Unlike undergraduate engineering tests, the agenda and questions for ETSC members are open-ended: “What can we do to improve the college? for current as well as future members? for faculty as well as students? What can we do to improve collaboration between clubs? What can I do to help?” These questions have no single answer. They invite people to move, to grow, to extend, to serve.

Before, I saw service as just a bullet point on my resume. Now I realize “service is the rent we pay for the privilege of living on this earth.” -N. Eldon Tanner.  This semester has truly been my best semester at BYU, and now I look forward to my last two semesters as I apply these lessons to my life.

James