Of course, our alternative spring break trip would not have been complete without our service project. Our volunteer project was at Hogar Crea Damas, a rehabilitation program for women in Costa Rica. The program works with people coming from domestic violence situations, drug additions, and a variety of other histories, and attempts to help them reshape their lives. Hogar Crea has homes around Costa Rica. We worked at the one in Tres Rios, a small mountain town half an hour from San Jose.
We worked on a few different projects, including fixing the bathroom (when we came, only one of the toilets was working, the showers were leaking, and the drain had a hole in it), painting (the outside of the building and the two bathrooms), fixing some doors, and dismantling a shed (to recycle the metal to build a walkway from the outdoor laundry room to the house).
Fixing a door!
Painting window frames!
Painting the bathroom! By the end of the day, I had stopped trying not to get covered in blue, white, and yellow paint :)
I forgot to take “before” pictures… but by the time we left at the end of our week volunteering, the difference in the bathrooms was readily apparent. At the beginning of the week, I was disgusted walking into the lower bathroom, but by the time we left, it felt cozy and inviting. Though painting is something locals could have done as well, I am glad that we were able to make a small, visible (and very colorful!) contribution to the women at Tres Rios :)
The upstairs bathroom team – we covered the window to take the picture, but the bathroom looks great now! Our motivational quote, “iadelante mujer,” is meant to inspire the residents of Hogar Crea Damas to move forward.
Team downstairs bathroom! When we came, the bathroom was entirely dark blue, and the paint had peeled off in many places. We made the bathroom half white and half blue, and added yellow accents.
We added bathroom windows, recycling the plastic from the (nonfunctional) doors of the old showers. The women wanted privacy but airflow, so we designed the upper window to provide both!
Almost a year ago now, I was just about to start my first Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) at JPL. NASA had sent out an email to all of their summer interns containing a social media template to announce that we had been selected as NASA interns. Excited to show my NASA pride, I posted it on my Instagram story, unaware of what would come out of this small action.
Hey hey! We’re starting a series where I walk you through my best finds for food and drinks in the Pasadena region, and in the LA metropolitan area. Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, if you will (although, for copyright reasons we can’t call it that). As you explore your college options, I firmly believe that food and location are more important than your high school guidance counselor may lead you to believe. And I’m here to share my best finds from my time at Caltech with you.
Over the past several months, I have had the opportunity to intern at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) under the mentorship of senior research technologist Dr. Xiaoqing Pi. Dr. Pi’s guidance and mentorship has been instrumental to the development and success of my internship at JPL, where I use machine-learning to enhance the accuracy and integrity of navigation and communication signals. In addition to helping me develop an understanding of atmospheric and ionospheric remote sensing and machine-learning, Dr. Pi has often offered his insights on how to improve my researching skills. Dr. Pi was generous enough to take the time to answer a few questions regarding his research and advice for future student interns. I believe many students can benefit from some of the lessons that he has taught me:
The transition period to remote learning was a very uncertain time, especially for research and the Caltech Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) program. Many hands-on projects had to pivot at the last minute to facilitate off-campus contributions. However, many Techers were able to take advantage of the research opportunities offered at Caltech and JPL to make the best out of remote learning and research. To paint a picture, I’ve interviewed a few talented Techers for some insight on what researching from home looks like for them.