All On My Own: Learning From My Making Mistakes

Day 44

Monday August 1, 2011

We will be starting the AC, GC, and GT tests of the hybrid rice varieties with the Alk gene. This time, however, Lìjié will not be doing the experiment or watching over me; I am doing this all by myself. Since I observed all the methodology from the first time, I can do this by myself. I am extremely nervous and excited to complete the work.

As I started preparing the solutions, I made some mistakes, but I learned from all of them. For starters, I broke three of the glass flasks  while mixing the solutions, but I know now not to use as much force. These next few days will be interesting – I will learn a lot and gain the experience of a researcher.

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Unexpected Travels

Day 43

Sunday July 31, 2011

As most Sundays are for resting, relaxing, and reading, I was napping during the afternoon and the phone suddenly rang. I picked it up drowsily, and to my surprise it was Lìjié who said, “Come to the office. We will go to Yongan Agrotechnical Station right now.” I was a little confused and disoriented as I got up, but I headed to the office. Lìjié later explained that her husband, who works at Yongan Agrotechnical Station, was free today and she wanted to show me his research work.

The amount of research on hybrid rice is overwhelming. As I listening to Lìjié’s husband explain his research, I was amazed by all the different variables there are to test. He was testing four different factors that affect hybrid rice – different types of fertilizer, temperature threshold, spacing between plants, and transplanting methods. I never realized how many different aspects about hybrid rice that researchers can improve in order to improve food security.

Since, we were in a farming community I decided to conduct some of my surveys there. I am conducting my independent research in two different farming communities, Yongan and Chun Hua.As I walked through the rice fields, I noticed that most of them were not in organized rows, which is necessary for transplanting in order to have a higher yield. This is one of the major problems that farmers in China  face today – lack of resources in order to increase yield of crops. Lìjié explained that most farmers do not have the infrastructure or labor to transplant rice, so transplanting is not an option for them.

Orange Continent and New Eating Experiences

Day 42

Saturday July 30, 2011

Today, we headed to Orange Continent, which is an appropriate name considering how many orange trees there are. What was even more astonishing was the giant sculpture of Chairman Mao there. The highlight of my day, however, was lunch. We ate at a well-known restaurant and since I couldn’t read the menu (all in Chinese), Lìjié ordered for me. The three dishes that stood out to me today were: chicken’s foot, pig’s foot, and pig’s blood – all unique in flavor. I feel that food is the best way to experience a country; you will never get the same type of food anywhere else in the world. Food makes each country truly unique.

From the Beginning Again

Day 41

Friday July 29, 2011

Since we finished the genetic analysis of the hybrid rice with the Alk gene and Wxin gene, we need to test the physical/chemical qualities of these rice varieties –  AC, GC, GT.

Finishing Genetic Analysis

Day 40

Thursday July 28, 2011

Today marked the end of our time in the lab – we finished the genetic analysis of the hybrid varieties with the Alk gene and Wxin gene!

Better Pictures

Day 39

Wednesday July 27, 2011

Since some of the gel pictures didn’t come out as clearly as we hoped, we retried them to get better pictures for our report. Other than that – a normal day.

Grateful

Day 38

Tuesday July 26, 2011

As I sat down at dinner with the agronomists from East Timor and Mozambique, I listened to the stories of the fight for independence in East Timor. As I listened, I could hear the frustration in the man’s voice as he described the struggles that his country faces. As I sat there and heard his experiences, I felt more grateful than ever to live in a country that is not war torn – a country where I feel safe and do not live in constant fear.

Everyday, in the news, we hear stories about revolts and fights for independence in countries all over the world, but it truly is a  different experience to hear a first-hand account – it made me realize how truly fortunate I am and how many opportunities I have to make a difference. It was only an accident of birth that put me in the place that I am today.