sustainability in developing communities - reflective journal - fernanda batista
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DESCRIPTIONThis is a Reflective Journal of the subject Sustainability in Developing Communities. Semester 2 of 2013. The University of Melbourne.
Sustainability in Developing Communities
Fernanda Batista 609040 SEM 2 l 2013
My name is Fernanda, 22 years old, study abroad student in the second semester here at The University
of Melbourne. I am currently taking the Bachelor of Environments, Major Architecture.
It is kind of difficult to explain why I choose this subject. The most reasonable thing to say is that it was in
my path along the experiences I am supposed to pass during my period at this university. I heard about it
through some friends that share the same interests as me, read the description in the handbook and
decided to try.
Since I was in elementary school I have been involved in volunteer work, and it is something that I
consider an important point of my life story. The experiences that I have been through because I was
inserted in those activities were really important to define my personality and help me to become the
person I am today.
As a future architect and young person I have a taste for travelling, specially exotic and unusual
destinations. At this moment of my life it represents a need for me to know the world and discover what
it has to offer. I like to experience places, not only visit, but try to live it understand its culture and the
reality of the local citizens.
I was born in Brazil, in the capital, of one of the poorest states of the nation. Along my life I have seen
poverty in various interfaces and caused by different reasons. Fortunately I do not live this reality but
based on what I have seen and especially the place and people I come from I can understand in a
reasonable way what destitute people go through in life.
I would like to make a difference for people like this. Everything I do in my life, all the effort I put in each
work I get involved and perform, it is not only for me and my professional and personal growing, I want
to be great and big in order that someday I will be able to support causes, people and communities like
the ones I have seen.
Some of the kids that I have worked with during my time as a volunteer in communities close to my city
When I saw that Plan was one of the supporters of the challenge of EWB I was particularly excited about
it. Plan acts in the suburbs around my city supporting children and providing them with sponsors from
overseas. I used to work for them translating letters from the sponsors for the children and in a reverse
way too, it was quite an interesting job.
When I saw the design areas designated for the challenge I wanted to be part of something that could
approach and connect all the possibilities. It is something that I believe it is possible, especially if I am
able to make my group work in partnership with the others in the class.
For now I am inserted in the Infrastructure and Construction group, which I believe is reasonable since I
want to work in something that can embrace all the areas. My group has not decided exactly what will be
the direction and project we will develop, we still brainstorming and trying to find something that we all
support and think about something that will be relevant for the community of Codo in Timor Leste.
During this week workshop I was happy to have chosen the group I will be working with until the end of
the semester and defined our main direction, at the same time I was disappointed with the main group
who is taking the subject and their idea about the community we will be working with, mostly their
understanding of the situation that people from Codo live in.
During our discussion I noticed that people were underestimating the ability of people from the
community in many aspects. I do understand that they have limited knowledge in many of the things that
we know, however during the design process I believe we should consider the type of production and
abilities that they already have and apply in the many things they perform.
I do not believe the people from Codo are the same as the other destitute communities that I have
worked with, but what I do believe is that we do have something to learn from the way they live and deal
with their conditions, and is something that we should widely consider while designing something for
One part of the workshop I found really interesting was the moment that Graham spoke about the toilet
and how people deal with this kind of situation when they live in those types of communities where they
do not have access to sanitation or sewer system as we do. I did know about it because of my previous
experience in my country, these conditions are not so unusual in the countryside in the region where I
come from. I travelled with some friends during the holidays and was kind of surprised when them and
some other tourists among us did not recognize this type of toilet, and were disgusted of the manners
that people deal with it. The same way it was a shock for my friends and the other tourist to have to face
that situation, I believe it was a good initiative to expose that fact to the entire group. I also think it was
not as strong as to make people experience it, but I do believe it will encourage the group to rethink how
broad our understanding about the community is.
This week we defined that we want to work in the design of a Child Friendly Space using local materials. I
shared with my group, ASA, this project that I think is just spectacular. This is a school called Nueva
Esperanza, in a community in Ecuador, it was designed and constructed by Al Borde Arquitectos and
volunteers from the own community.
This week was really positive for our group. We shared all the information we collected from our
personal research about Codo community and East Timor. We made a compilation of all the data we
gathered giving special emphasis for the ones that will be most relevant for our final project, the design
of a Child Friendly Space for the community.
My personal Reflective Map
Compilation of the most relevant information collected by the group members.
This week we continued with the research phase, right now focused on our final aim. We divided the research tasks according five categories, so each member was responsible for one: Building Materials (durability, accessibility, cost), Environment (climate, components of area, pests, wildlife), Culture (values, beliefs, religion, demographics), Existing Buildings (locally used materials), Child Friendly Spaces + Plan (designs, organization interests and aims).
I particularly like the possibility of designing a Child Friendly Space. At this moment I am taking another subject that is focused on pos-disaster situations, is something that I am really interested on studying, and we have had a background about the Cfs`s on it as well.
Related to the event I think it was important this week, I would like to mention a situation that happened with my previous group members before we split in two groups. We are now five members at ASA group and three members at the other group, however one of the members decided to leave the group because he was interested in other area, what left the other two unable to participate of the challenge by themselves. They tried to find another group, I do not know if they did, but I really liked their attitude towards the entire group of explaining their situation and also in what they were interested in working on, for me that proved that they really believe on what they wish to work with, what also represents a strength for their future design approach.
This link is about a video of the works that Plan develops in Timor Leste related to the youth and the
children of the communities.
During the feedback session about the reflective journal and my overall progress in the subject I was very
surprised and disappointed. At first my understanding of the reflective journal was that we were free to
create it in the way we considered best as long as we attended the requirements of the main purpose of
it, review and reflect about the experiences we were having along this course. Due to it I tried to do
something that I could keep for me and share with other people after the end of the subject. My option
was to create a journal based on an online platform this way I could update and share the journal with
other people that did not have access to the wiki page. I was criticized because of it, mostly because it
was not requested to do so, however I was told that I could continue with this approach to make my
reflective journal. The other point was related to the context map, and the way I did it, instead of
summarizing the most important information collected from the EWB website related to the community,
I did an overall review of the main aspects that I could conclude after exploring the website. I was advised
to follow the subject guidelines of exercise instead of trying to reach the same points through different
and personal approaches. And the last was related to my personal wikipage tha