Smoke billows from a tangled pile of burning wires as a young man pokes and turns the bundle to melt away the plastic outer coating and get at the copper interior. The ground quivers and shakes as he walks over layers of burnt wire, ash, and waste.
Behind a camera, with microphone and notebook in hand, Kelly Zhou, a junior, Kelly Byrne, a senior, and Nana Kwabena Aboagye, a graduate student in the Department of Operations Research and Financial Engineering, take in the scene freehand – the ground too hot to set up a tripod – capturing the process of burning copper wire on video as part of the International Service Trip with the Pace Center for Civic Engagement.
In January 2016, Zhou, Byrne, Aboagye and eight other Princeton undergraduate students traveled from New Jersey mid-blizzard to Ghana, Africa to spend one week working with the Agbogbloshie Makerspace Platform (AMP) to develop a series of informative videos to help AMP promote worker health and safety at the Agbogbloshie scrapyard. At Agbogbloshie an estimated 6,000-10,000 people work in the scrap trade dismantling and/or processing a wide array of items – such as batteries, household appliances, televisions, computers, mobile phones, vehicles, aircraft and telecommunications equipment – to forward on to steelworks, copper refineries and specialized recycling industries.