Hiking ten hours to a remote village to help build a classroom might not be part of every Rutgers’ engineering student’s educational experience, but for globe trekker and biomedical engineering student Janice Jeschke, immersing herself in other cultures is one of the ways she defines herself as an engineer.
“I wanted to go abroad to add an experiential learning component to my university education,” Jeschke said. “I was attracted to going to a developing country to not only see what the cultures are like, but to gain a better understanding for how people live there.”
Jeschke, a School of Engineering junior studying biomedical engineering with the hope of eventually earning a doctorate, has made two journeys overseas promoting health education in Nepal and conducting research in Germany.
Jeschke searched through multiple organizations and stumbled upon Edge of Seven, a nongovernmental agency, which offered programs in several countries including Nepal.
Jeschke said she was drawn to Nepal by its mountains, peaceful culture and need for help in rural communities.
With a desire to help the international community, Jeschke began her travels in Spring 2012, spending ten weeks in a village called Salleri, the headquarters of the Solukhumb District. Living in a hostel with 42 women, she instructed class on women’s hygiene and menstrual health as well as English.
Outside of the classroom, Jeschke gained friendship with the women she was teaching, visiting their homes and acquainting herself with the region by climbing the local mountains. Jeschke, along with a few American volunteers and an American architect, also hiked for 10 hours to another village called Phuleli and partnered with local Nepali carpenters to build a new classroom.
Jeschke said she immersed herself in the Nepali culture during the entirety of the trip. She ate Nepali food, adjusted to having only a few hours of electricity each day and relied on a stream near the hostel for water.
After her experience in Nepal, Jeschke wanted to continue her global outreach and applied for an international co-op with Johnson & Johnson and in the beginning of January 2012, she began 6-month co-op at Johnson & Johnson in Hamburg.
Working in a biomedical research and development department Jeschke became involved in a variety of projects gaining insight into the medical devices industry, all the while “improving my German lingual skills,” she added.
“My experience abroad was not only memorable, but an important addition my studies at Rutgers making my education more comprehensive, and vastly broadening my cultural understandings.”