"These moments when we dare to aim higher, to break barriers, to reach for the stars, to make the unknown known. We count these moments as our proudest achievements. But we lost all that. Or perhaps we've just forgotten that we are still pioneers." -Interstellar
BYU has amazing ratings (aside from its parking), and Provo provides a comfortable college atmosphere but from this writer's perspective, sometimes you need to just get away. And BYU agrees as shown by its programs geared to have students work in or live in other countries. The thought of living in or visiting another country fills some students with eager anticipation for the wonders that lay beyond the borders while others are filled with skepticism and anxiety. If I could give one piece of advice to students it would be to discover the Cookies and Cream milk from the Creamery, but if I could provide one more piece of advice it would be to travel.
Brandon Black, a MET Junior, when asked if he was so eager to work in Nicaragua last summer because he wanted to get out of Utah, be away from family, or to just get away, replied quickly "All of the above."
Brandon and his wife Christine loved their summer there. Brandon worked on implementing lean principles at Cargill, working on average 55hrs a week. At Cargill a BYU grad is the current director of operations for all of Central America. While speaking with the director, Brandon was able to explain some of the problems that he saw in the plant at which point Brandon was appointed to work on his ideas and develop them with a team of 5 plant supervisors. Implemented savings were around $1-2 million a year through eliminating variation. This made for a great resume booster.
His wife Christine was also able to find a job while out there working for a non-profit organization focused on health education for women and children.
Many students are concerned with relative safety of a particular country. Brandon and Christine had their own home that had a fence surrounding it and was located in a gated community. Brandon had a private taxi for his transportation to and from work. All provided by Cargill.
They also both expressed that they felt comfortable everywhere they went. Besides working in Nicaragua they were able to visit most of the country on days off, including volcanos, boat rides to islands, multiple beaches, and famers markets. Of all their adventures there, their favorite was San Juan Del Sur.
His wifes rating of the entire experience? "Loved it."
“It was great for our relationship. I’m a huge advocate for getting out. Just leaving. We were married for 2 months before going there." Reports Black.
Besides all of this they were able to tackle a problem we all feel here living in the bubble, missionary work. Besides being choir director and teaching Sunday school classes they were also able to participate in 6 baptisms. Christine was able to go out with the sister missionaries often. “It was nice because she wasn’t sitting at home by herself. You serve like crazy.”
Mike Sweany, also a MET Junior is excited to head to Peru for a couple weeks through the GEO program. His team will be headed to Porcon to implement their project, “ingenuitea”, to aid in the manufacturing of tea. The other two teams in GEO headed to Peru will be headed to Uros islands to implement their projects to improve water filtration.
“I just think it is a good opportunity to apply not just engineering but engineering design, product improvement, and prototyping.” says Mike, “Besides capstone, [people] should from the MET major should be involved in activities where they can apply what they have learned.”
For those worried about the language barrier, they divide the teams with distribution of those who speak the native tongue.
Beyond the project, Mike is excited to try "cuy", a delicacy in Peru and a staple in Andean cuisine. We know it as Guinea pig! The three teams will also have the chance to visit Macho Picchu and Cusco.
Looking for a way to get beyond the "bubble"? There are many opportunities besides these that will be posted here on the MET website. To apply for GEO for next year, apply by the end of this semester online.
“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” –Saint Augustine