Andrea Savage returns to Bhutan as 2016 Alice Rowan Swanson Fellow
SIT Study Abroad alumna will teach a water harvesting workshop
World Learning and the School for International Training have named Andrea Savage as this year’s Alice Rowan Swanson Fellow. Savage, of Denver, Colo., is a fall 2011 alumna of SIT Study Abroad’s Tibetan and Himalayan Studies program in Nepal and Bhutan. She is a 2012 graduate of Goddard College, where she majored in Community Education.
The Alice Rowan Swanson Fellowship returns alumni of SIT Study Abroad programs to their host countries to conduct human rights projects. Savage’s project focuses on water as a human right. She was invited by the College of Natural Resources in Punakha, Bhutan, to conduct a water harvesting workshop that will contribute to a community watershed project.
Water harvesting refers to managing water in tandem with nature. It requires few or even no resources. Bhutan faces serious water-related challenges including a warming climate, population growth, and rural-to-urban migration. Savage has been trained to use green infrastructure to help people use water where it falls, mitigate flooding and erosion, restore dying water sources, and provide natural water quality and quantity management.
“The great thing about green infrastructure is that we have everything we need to reverse water issues and restore healthy watersheds,” Savage said. “It’s possible to provide healthy water for every human and animal’s needs. It’s really simple – it just requires a shift of where we’re focusing our labor and how we regard water as a resource.”
Savage has completed a 60-hour water harvesting course, is a certified harvester, and has worked in the field for eight years. “I started doing environmental work in college and found that water was my passion,” she said. “My technique as an educator has always been to facilitate. My job is to direct the conversation and offer information that may not already be present.”
In Bhutan, her project goal is to provide students, faculty, and community members with the experience and skills to help rural residents preserve safe, accessible, and culturally important water sources. Workshop participants will identify a site for a water harvesting project that they design. A lack of skilled labor is a major issue in Bhutan, and CNR students will be trained to become leaders and experts as part of the National Integrated Watershed Management Plan.
The family of Alice Rowan Swanson created the fellowship in her name as a living tribute. The Amherst College alumna died in a 2008 bicycle accident in Washington, DC. Rowan Swanson was inspired to work in international development and human rights during her SIT Study Abroad experience in Nicaragua in 2006.
To learn more about the fellowship, eligibility, or to download an application, visit the Alice Rowan Swanson Fellowship web page.