Living Village expands SMU’s global horizon through eco-friendly ways
Published: Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 16:11
A solar powered computer station, a tent for basket weaving education, a pop-up raised garden and pagoda style temple are all on display as part of SMU’s Engineering and Humanity Week.
The Living Village, as the event’s creators dubbed it, intends to showcase a variety of shelter technologies that displaced populations can utilize.
In 2011, the Lyle school showcased sustainable and cost-efficient refugee shelters.
This year the goal was to showcase how culture can exist in a desolate environment.
While primary needs like food, water and shelter are important, culture is often lost in refugee camps, which hurts the quality of life of refugees.
Religious traditions and culture-based teaching to a younger generation are often lost.
The SMU anthropology department, Lyle engineers and members of the North Texas Burundi and Bhutan populations worked together to demonstrate how cultural sustainability could still be valued in economically strapped refugee camps.
The DFW area has a large refugee population.
DFW has hosted Burundi and Bhutan community members – who were once refugees – for more than twenty years.
Both nations have had problems in their development.
Tutsis and Hutus populate Burundi, a country located in eastern Africa.
Because of civil war, which resulted in ethnic persecution, hundreds of thousands were displaced.
The Bhutanese have been a historically displaced ethnic group because of intercultural and religious discrimination.
Engineering and Humanity Week seeks to show how engineering concepts can be used to help displaced populations.
“Through the power of engineering — steeped in practical solutions, collaboration with partners, and a commitment to the principles of humanity — we will work to meet the challenges of the developing world,” Stephanie Hunt, the event’s founder and chairwoman, said.
The Living Village also hopes to connect SMU students to the wider world – more than forty students will be spending the week in the village.
“Just because we live in a bubble doesn’t mean that there isn’t something outside of it,” Moriah Momsen, a sophomore participant, said. “There is an entire world out there that we can learn about.”
Many of the exhibits at the Living Village – from pop-up tent to a solar powered computer station – have the potential to be used at United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees camps.
The Living Village is one of many events put on by the Hunt Institute. The institute is also involved in TEDxSMU and national-level design competitions.
Students are embracing the global ideal of the Living Village.
“We have a duty to do this. This is our chance to raise awareness for people to understand what happens around the world,” Meera Day, a sophomore, said.