Finding My Place in Tanzania

Aaron Greiner ‘18

Olin students enjoy all kinds of summer experiences, many stepping outside their comfort zones.  Junior Aaron Greiner is working as a communications intern in Tanzania, through the International Development Innovation Network  (IDIN).  Students who participate in IDIN, which sprung from MIT’s D-Lab, work on significant projects all over the world.  IDIN empowers a diverse, global network of innovators to design, develop and disseminate technologies with the goal of improving the lives of people living in poverty.  

Aaron (far right) and his colleagues in Tanzania

So, What Am I Doing in Tanzania?

As part of a placement through the Olin IDIN fund, I am working at Twende in Arusha, Tanzania for two months this summer. Twende is a social innovation center that empowers local innovators to solve challenges they see in their communities. We work to accomplish this through hands-on workshops and projects. We also provide support for businesses and developing social ventures.

I am working primarily in the (2 person) design team. As the director of creativity (self-appointed title), I provide design support for both the Twende center itself, and for the innovators that are working on projects or businesses. I have recently been working on designing a book to highlight Twende’s CCB (Creative Capacity Building) workshop, as well as doing graphic design for a business operating out of Twende. Through it all, I have been documenting the various work that goes on at Twende through photo and video. On the more human-centered design side, I have been working on improving the workshop space, and planning for Nane Nane (a large festival that happens in the beginning of August).           

It is safe to say that this summer experience has been unlike most. When deciding whether to take an opportunity more in my comfort zone or to come here, I took a leap of faith. It has paid off so much more than I could have hoped for. Not only am I working somewhere where I can have a real, meaningful impact on the lives of others, but I have also grown so much as a person and come to know myself much better. I would recommend everyone that can take this kind of opportunity whenever possible. It has been a wonderful learning experience so far, and it’s hard to believe I am more than half way done with my internship here already. There is so much more I want to accomplish!

Here you can check out some of Aaron’s travel writing from Tanzania, and if you look around the BOW (Babson/Olin/Wellesley) International Development blog a bit, you’ll even find The adventures of Mitch Cieminski ’17 in Agastya, India and those of Maddie Fort ’17 in Bogota, Colombia.  

Posted in: Summer Experiences, Making a Difference