Hey all! I’m Anna Meneely, an engineer on this year’s Go Baby Go Trip writing this portion of the Go Baby Go Blog. I am a captain from world renowned robotics Team 4488 Shockwave that helps the Go Baby Go Oregon and China Chapters with the more technical side of adapting cars and toys. China has always been an area of great scientific and engineering progress and it has been interesting to see the cultural difference when approaching engineering design. So far, this trip has been an AMAZING experience.
From Beijing and Chongqing to now Kunming, the trip has been full of fun puzzles and challenges. During our time in Beijing, I went to a local mall and bought a toy to adapt for a low vision specialty orphanage near the outskirts of Beijing. After checking out the inner workings of the toy, we were unable to modify the toy for switch accessibility but we did remove and modify some functions of the toy in compliance with toy requirements for orphans with vision impairments and other disabilities. Working (and playing!) in Beijing was a wonderful experience, the toy adaptation workshop went very smoothly and wonderfully. It is a beautiful city with a lot of diverse and great food! Matcha ice cream will always have a special place in my heart.
After dodging planes, trains and automobiles, we made it to Chongqing very early in the morning, which to my surprise had ever better food. So many mushrooms, water spinach, hot pot and pork noodle bowls were everywhere! I’m not sure how I can return to typical American food after this trip. Sorry Mickey D’s.
The day the Go Baby Go team was free in Chongqing, we travelled to the nearby Fuling Orphanage through the steep hills, muddy paths and flooded roads. While we there we met with all the kids and toured the facilities. We fixed walkers, wheelchairs and canes for the children, who were all so adorable. The kids were so eager to play! Running around, learning to take selfies, they were all so excited and happy. I think my photo album had 200 more memories at the end of the day. They had huge toothy smiles plastered on their faces at all times. Especially when we would pick a few of the children up, they would just be so ecstatic that someone new was playing and holding them and would fight you if you tried putting them down.
That day, one of the boys at the orphanage had needed an updated wheelchair. When we carried and placed him into the newer modified wheelchair, his face instantly light up. He was such a different person, giggling, laughing and smiling at everybody that waved at him. We would clip him in and and he would laugh, we would adjust the seat and he would giggle, he just spread so much delight.
Night time in Chongqing at the waterfront is astonishing. When the night rose, all the buildings lit up with pattern LEDs and HUGE screens. Despite shining with mosquito spray, I still managed to get bit all over. Seriously, it’s like the mosquitos eat Deet for breakfast here. Ow.
During the toy adaption workshop in Chongqing there was a bit of a mix up which lead to Bethany, Katie and I to run to the closest Walmart. We grabbed random toys from off the small aisle shelf that held baby toys and hoped would be simple enough to adapt. In the end we DID managed to adapt all the toys, from a 2 dollar peppa pig candy fans to baby seahorse nightlights and animal pianos. It was so much fun!
Now the team is in beautiful Kunming, Spring City, where we are gearing up for another round of Go Baby Go workshops. I can’t wait to see what this city has in store for us! We already have a few technical puzzles and mysteries lined up for us. This trip has been an engineer’s dream: working on a global scale to directly aid children with fun challenges and puzzles.