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Feature Story

Wright went to college
with USCHI scholarship,
then to Peace Corps in Zambia,
where she found that

Harvest Lessons Still Apply

When you grow up in a custom harvesting family, you develop a knack for
exploring new places and meeting new
people wherever you go.
Emily Wright, whose parents, Kent
and Bobbi Wright of Bridgeport, Neb.,
own Wright’s Trucking and Harvesting, spent much of her youth visiting
and working in wheat fields across the
country. Now, as she concludes her
second year with the Peace Corps in subSaharan Africa, she’s finding that her
new adventures share many similarities
to custom harvesting. She’s learning a
new culture, exploring new lands, and
meeting new friends.
“I came here to learn a different cul-

Emily’s neighbor Bana Mwaba has become like a surrogate mother to her during her time in Zambia.
20 · Harvest News

Wright’s parents —
her mother Bobbi,
sister Ti and father
Kent — visited her
in her Zambian
village. Emily took
them to visit her
friend and counterpart Royd so they
could see how
different farming is
in Zambia. They’re
pictured in Royd’s
cornfield, which
measures about 5

ture and immerse myself,” Emily said.
“This is what makes the experience
Emily received a U.S. Custom Harvesters scholarship in 2010, and she’s gone
far since then — halfway around the
world, to be exact. I reached Emily in
March as she rode a bus to the capital
city of Zambia. Her Internet connection
was strong so she took a few minutes
to share what she’s been up to since she
received that scholarship six years ago.
After receiving the USCHI scholarship
in 2010, Emily, went to Hastings College
in Hastings, Neb. She earned a degree in
biochemistry and molecular biology in
May 2014. But it was after taking several
short interim courses — ecology in Tanzania, HIV and AIDS in Trinidad and

When Kent Wright visited his daughter
Emily in Zambia, he was presented with a
chicken — a traditional gift to a visitor from
the village’s chief, who is pictured.

Tobago, and a study of the culture and
people in Ghana — that she realized she
wanted to do more, experience more.
“I wanted to get experience in health
care and travel, and the Peace Corps was
the perfect opportunity,” she said.
She started her two-year Peace Corps
April 2016

Feature Story

ABOVE, LEFT: Emily works with Zambian students at a nearby school on
hygiene education. She helped them build a tippy tap so they could wash
their hands without running water. “Here, hand washing is a challenge, as
water and soap are at times kilometers away,” Wright wrote, “so we make
this structure to help make the process easier.”

Emily gathers a group
of her young
“neighborhood gang”
around her.
The children
often hang
around at
her house.
“The children were
my gateway for the
trusting me,”
she said.
“Once the
me all right,
adults were
more likely
to come

service in the village of Kalaba, Mansa District, Luapula
Province, Zambia, in June
2014. She works through the
Community Health Improvement Project focusing
on malaria, HIV/AIDS, and
maternal and child health.
Emily works mainly on
capacity building and education — developing health
April 2016

trainings, building support
groups for people living with
HIV, rehabilitating malnourished children, and trying to
develop economic empowerment.
She has worked on building outreach clinics to bring
basic healthcare closer to
people who often have to
walk more than 15 miles to

receive those services.
“Sustainability is a constant
struggle here,” Emily said.
“There are billions of dollars
going into aid, but being on
the ground, I have come to
realize that the evidence is
minimal. Making my programs sustainable and feasible with the resources given
is a constant challenge. It is a

never-ending battle.”
Although the challenges
are large and complex, she
celebrates the relationships
she’s made.
“The children were my
gateway for the community
trusting me,” she said. “Once
the children deemed me all
continued on next page

Harvest News · 21

Feature Story

Emily Wright holds Joyce, a youngster who participated in a 12day malnourishment rehabilitation program.
continued from previous page

right, adults were more likely
to come around.”
She’s formed lifetime bonds
with the neighbors around
her mud hut. She’s watched
life-changing decisions take
place, like when her closest villager changed his
crop rotation, using supply
and demand to harvest his
ground nuts at peak hunger
season. That small change
earned him a high price.
“That reminds me why I am
here,” she said. “Sustainable
change is slower here, but
when it happens, it is defiResidents of the
Chaiteka village
proudly stand at the
health post they built
through the Peace
Corps Small Grants
Program. The health
post will help with
growth monitoring
and vaccination,
offer basic medical treatment, help
with antenatal care,
and provide other
22 · Harvest News

Read Emily’s blog
While in Zambia, Emily
kept in touch with family and friends through
her blog. Visit lighting
for more pictures and to
learn more about her time
in Zambia.

nitely worth celebrating.”
She will return to the
United States in August. Her
plan is to apply to graduate
schools. Being in Zambia has
given her invaluable experience and helped her realize
how much she enjoys clini-

Emily talks to Zambian students at a nearby school about proper hygiene techniques. Among the things she teaches them as
a Peace Corps volunteer is how to produce their own chlorine
using salt, batteries, and water.

cal care. She dreams of one
day becoming a physician’s
But first, she’ll eat all the
food she’s missed. She’ll visit
her nieces and nephews who
have grown so much in the
two years she’s been gone.
She’s kept in touch with fam-

ily through technology, but
she says they’re what she has
missed the most. Life here
has gone on without her —
weddings, funerals, birthdays
and holidays.
But when she returns to the
U.S., then she’ll be missing
those left behind in Kalaba.
“The neighborhood children have adopted my house
as the playground,” she said.
“I will miss their welcoming,
carefree personalities, and
will always wonder what
the future has in store for
them. It’s hard to get up and
leave the people you lived
with the last two years, no
matter where you live. I feel
like it’s harder here, though,
when I see so much left to be
April 2016

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