By Paula Echeverría Suárez
I started my internship with the City Water Project in September 2016. It all began in the committee fair of my university, where Raghav, founding member of the CWP, was looking for enthusiastic first-years who were interested in carrying on with the project.
At first, I was surprised but curious. Why would a group of college kids be interested in the water quality of the world? The first city they have been working on was The Hague and its water quality seemed pretty good. Everybody was drinking water from the tap and they didn’t get sick for doing it. In comparison to my home country, Ecuador, where it is almost impossible not to end in the hospital if you do the same thing. Wasn’t it too ambitious to be part of a project like this? In the end, I said why not? Maybe I could learn a thing or two about water quality, team-work and cross-cultural communication.
After this encounter and a meeting with David, the professor in charge of the project, I became part of it. We were a small group of people believing in the importance of the dissemination of information about water quality. Each week we would meet and have a meeting with all our plans for the next seven days. It wasn’t only work, it was also a time to talk about our week, our problems and our dreams. However, we soon realized that believing in the importance of water quality wasn’t enough to carry on. We needed to get contacts in The Hague, and it was a bit difficult as we didn’t speak Dutch.
Step by step, with different campaigns such as social media and flyers we tried to enter in the community. We wanted to know their opinion of the quality of water in the city. In order to do so, we had created a survey in 5 languages. After three months of working in The Hague, we decided that it was time to move to another city and try again. Our efforts in The Hague weren’t enough. We never managed to create the impact we wanted.
At the beginning of 2017, we moved to Galway, Ireland and Flint, Michigan. After working in The Hague, we had more patience, discipline and cooperation in our team, which made our second campaign more successful.
The City Water Project has been a great experience, but a year has passed. It is time for me to say good-bye to my teammates. I am moving on, but I will never forget the importance of water quality.