Washington Tahookuwah, age 25
School: EARTH University in Guácimo, Costa Rica
Hometown: Gbernge, Liberia
Family: Mother, father, two brothers
Studies: International Tropical Agriculture
Tahookuwah traveled across the Atlantic to get the training he needs to carry out his ultimate goal: “to build a system to help other people understand sustainability,” and to educate communities on food security. Currently half way through his four-year program at Earth, Tahookuwah is entering his second trimester focusing on international tropical agriculture. Chemistry and biology classes fill his days.
EARTH is a training university that teaches students to import less and to grow their own food for markets. Tahookuwah says it is about “bringing the environmental, social, and economic aspects into your system.”
A few things stood out to Tahookuwah when transitioning from Liberia to Costa Rica. The biggest was changing languages. His native language is Kpelle and he also knows English, Bassa and Mandingo. At EARTH University, it is mandatory he learn Spanish as well.
Another big change Tahookuwah explained is the difference in food. In Liberia he is accustomed to eating foods like fufu and cassava, which are different from the rice and beans eaten with every meal in Costa Rica.
The Costa Rican environment is similar to Tahookuwah’s landscape at home. The crops and the way people farm organically is the same, he said. “Lives are based on agriculture,” is how he explains his community.
Tahookuwah’s studies this year are mostly in the classroom and in the laboratory, working both individually and in groups. His lab work focuses on studying soils and bringing down pH levels.
Tahookuwah lives in the dorms at EARTH University. Some aspects of campus life can be boring, he says, but he is able to find free time for his favorite activities: listening to music and playing soccer. He communicates with his family on a weekly basis by phone, Facebook and Skype.
He will soon be applying for a four-month internship, where he is given an opportunity to work in a community anywhere in the world helping people working in agriculture.