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What does an ASC student do during her summer break? For Shilin Zhou the answer was clear: apply for a grant from Project for Peace to help a Botswana Highschool to improve its water recycling system. In her talk, “From Kitchen to Orchard: Integrated Water Resources Management Project; Madiba High School, Botswana,” she told the audience about her experience.

Located in southern Africa, Botswana’s geography and road infrastructure make the distribution of water a difficult task. Villages and communities not close to the two major highways often have to go without water for extended periods of time. For Zhilin, who knew that she would go to Botswana for a study abroad program, lack of water was a problem she wanted to help mitigate. She had worked on water issues with the Atlanta-based CDC as an intern and decided to use that experience as well as her organization and communication skills to improve the water situation in Botswana.

In her talk, Shilin detailed how she developed her project from “long distance proposal writing” to adjusting to life in a country that she had never visited before. While at the Botswana school, Shilin worked on repairing and upgrading the system that helps the highschool to reuse their kitchen grey water for irrigating the school orchard. She also developed and held educational workshops and designed manuals.

Shilin also offered insights into the challenges of working in this kind of area, from the language barriers to technical problems that arose. Overall, her engaging talk functioned as a perfect example for the real-life application of a liberal arts education.