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Sneha Ayyagari

Sneha Ayyagari, '17, MS '19

Caring for what we have

"Development is when people grow their conscience."

That is how a war veteran, skilled farmer, and environmental educator described to me what it means to create sustainable development. He explained that it doesn't matter how much people do or don't have; what matters is that they care for and care about what they have.

As a Schneider Sustainable Energy fellow in 2015, I worked with Asofenix, a grassroots organization that works to develop and improve the lives of rural Nicaraguans in the villages in the hilly state of Boaco.

Throughout my fellowship, I supported projects that improved quality of life such as installing renewable energy, potable water infrastructure, irrigation systems, and clean cookstoves; creating an environmental education program; and supporting sustainable agriculture in the community where I worked and lived. I saw how the technical and educational parts of energy projects fit together into an integrated and transformational program.

I was deeply moved by the opportunity to learn the stories of the resilient and loving people I worked with. I also enjoyed learning the nuances of Nicaraguan culture, and the people I worked with became part of my family. I continue to call them every week.

This fellowship reinforced my desire to couple my technical skills and interest in environmental engineering with my passion for teaching to create a more just and sustainable world.

Sneha Ayyagari, ’17 (Environmental Systems Engineering); MS ’19 (Civil and Environmental Engineering: Sustainable Design and Construction) was a 2015 Schneider Fellow. Schneider Fellows work at leading U.S. nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to tackle today’s sustainable energy challenges.
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