“I believe this is how we make the world safer, a better place: trying to give people access to healthcare and improving educational opportunities. And I think we really are creating the global village that we can communicate through and understand how we’re similar and how we’re different in different places.” – Richard Elliott
A lot of courses are taught today that are focused on large scale societal issues. Particularly in the field of design, students are asked to solve real world problems through studios. This is a slippery way to approach the challenges of the globe. On one hand, students are exposed to budgets and schedules, and gain broad perspectives that cannot be replicated in a classroom. They are more likely to pursue a career path defined by this immersive experience, as evidenced by so many of the graduates of Auburn’s Rural Studio. Conversely, questions of feasibility and responsibility must be considered before embarking on a project that students may not have the time or expertise to see through to be anything other than a research exercise that uses under-served populations as case studies.
In the video above, Elissa Yancey takes her students on a semester long journey that straddles the two sides of this discussion. In the weeks leading up to the trip to Tanzania, her students researched, practiced interviewing, and learned to use audio and video equipment. The film that resulted is not perfect, but the human element is really close: envelope pushing experiences for students, an easy to share message about Village Life and the organization’s mission, and no one in Tanzania was promised a business, building, or otherwise that will not appear.