Why I went: My study abroad experience was actually a research trip funded by the UB Honors College Research and Creative Activities Fund. I went to study agricultural development, but ended up finding water issues more interesting and relevant to my own life (coming from the North American Great Lakes Region).
Water issues I worked on while I was there: I helped set up a co-op that provided farmers with emissions-free water pumps for watering fields.
Why water caught my attention: I remember — I can still see it — a very small, makeshift dam the farmers were using. It was made of sticks and leaves and just a trickle of water was coming through. Seeing all the livestock and people trying to get water from this limited source got me interested in the politics of water: who gets it, how to distribute it.
Another thing that fascinated me about Tanzania: I was amazed by the emergence of mobile communication technologies in even remote villages. Since 2007, mobile has been transforming economic and human development across Africa.
What I’m doing now: My first trip to Tanzania included an eight-hour layover in London. This gave me the chance to take a peek at the city, which inspired me to apply to British universities for grad school.
I'm finishing up a PhD at Oxford now. My dissertation looks at how mobile payment options influence water provision in urban areas. I've been back to East Africa at least five or six times for research and work.
On Buffalo and Tanzania: Going abroad has given me a new perspective on almost every issue we face in Western New York. I'm hoping to apply mobile innovations from East Africa and ideas from leading Oxford thinkers to challenges in Buffalo. The world holds the solutions to Buffalo’s 21st-century problems. We just have to go out and find them.
Connect with me: You can find me on Twitter at @AKrolikowski.