A Year of Solutions

This post is by Kwame Ntiri Owusu-Daaku, program leader at Iowa City Summer of Solutions.

I can’t believe I have changed this much in a year. I can’t believe I’ve stayed involved this much for a year either. What started out as a the need to find a summer internship in Iowa City has turned into an amazing journey of discovery from which I’m moving on to a PhD in Geography in which I plan to focus on development and climate change adaptation.


Kwame learns to caulk a window.

I came to Iowa City in August 2011 to begin a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Iowa. Before then, climate change for me was something Americans and Europeans rambled on about. Coming from Ghana, I was more concerned about social and economic sustainability than environmental protection and preservation. For me then, the tensions inherent in environment versus people and economy saw an obvious winner – I wasn’t about to let people continue to be impoverished while the ground lay fallow. I’ve expanded my thought processes since then and now I have no clear cut solutions.


Kwame insulating a hot water pipe

My first contact with Summer of Solutions was with the question Do you want to be a Solutionary?” printed in bold on a poster. I thought to myself “what in the world is a Solutionary?” The rest is history. Throughout this past year, I have been challenged and changed in my thinking and the way in which I work with others. I have now become an avid lover of all things “google” and attempted to get my Masters project team to embrace the “google culture” with varied levels of success (collaborating on a single document was often a bit much for them).


Kwame with a family after receiving some free CFL lightbulbs through the Our Power campaign

Summer of Solutions is not only a great experience…it is a great community. It is only within the framework of Grand Aspirations that I have seen youth leading adults and for me as a young Ghanaian man-that is a BIG deal. I am going back to Ghana this summer to see my family before I plunge headlong into the crazy world of heady academics in the fall. My time with Summer of Solutions has been truly unforgettable.

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