Angelique Angrum ’10 knows a great opportunity when she sees one. This past semester, the William Smith student received a notice about a volunteer prospect in Nicaragua over Winter break. After “a few milliseconds of intense deliberation she put in an application and was accepted to the 10-day hands-on program.
“Grupo Fenix is a non-profit organization that is fighting to bring economic development using renewable/solar energies and technologies to the second poorest country in the western hemisphere said Angrum. As a participant, she was able to witness ongoing solar energy projects that are bringing renewable/sustainable energy to rural communities.
Grupo Fenix is behind efforts to build solar ovens, solar-powered electric lighting and hot-water heaters, all low-cost and low-impact alternatives to traditional fossil-fuel heavy development. For example, solar ovens can be made out of scrap cardboard, newspaper, aluminum foil and plastic or wood and other materials. With proper construction, they can reach temperatures of 350 degrees Fahrenheit and be used to pasteurize milk and water or cook food.
Through her experiences, Angrum soon learned to settle in comfortably in her new home. “One of the most unforgettable moments for me occurred while the excitement of simply being in a new country was still fresh on my mind. I remember that first morning, awakening in Managua to the familiar backdrop of urban sounds in the barrio and saw that my room door was wide awake. As a New York City native my first reaction was to worry, or at least panic a little! But for the life of me I couldn’t.
The only thing I remember feeling at that moment was an acute sense of thankfulness. I was thankful that I had arrived safely and I was thankful to be embarking on this positive experience. I was even thankful that the cat had chased a cockroach into my room — which is probably why the door was wide open!
Grupo Fenix was started in 1996 by a group of enthusiastic engineering students and Professor Susan Kinne at the National Engineering University (Universidad Nacional de Ingeneria or UNI), in Managua, Nicaragua.