You borrow a rocking chair and take a break under the eaves of a village house. Then, a chicken comes around, hops onto the well-cleaned tiled floor, and leaves droppings. Suddenly, an old woman appears and quickly sweeps the droppings after covering them with furnace ash. Chicken droppings are pasty because they contain a lot of water. However, you can sweep them out because they harden when they are covered with ash. Being able to catch a glimpse of such daily wisdom is also part of the fun of being in the field. I have been involved in a project to control Chagas’ disease in Nicaragua in Central America since I completed the graduate school. I spend my day making the rounds of local health facilities, joining village activities to provide technical guidance, compiling field data to prepare reports, holding discussions with project stakeholders, and so on. It’s already been four years since I graduated from Nagasaki University Graduate School of International Health Development. I have recently come to believe that the philosophy of the graduate school “teach practices at university,” which is somewhat contradictory, is actually a sophisticated intellectual challenge as well. In order to develop practical individuals, it is necessary to ask questions such as “what knowledge is required in the field?” and “what are the methods that can produce that knowledge?” Asking yourself those questions while watching chickens is also part of the fun in the field.
JICA Nicaragua: Chagas’ disease control project expert