Monday, June 6, 2011

Planting People, Not Things

After an entire year without electricity to run the student computer lab, it is operating again (thanks to newly installed solar panels funded by a German organization).

That's just one example of how unreliable the infrastructure, and the physical/mechanical environment in general, is in a place like Tanzania. With no warning the water or the power stops working. Doors fall off cars. Toilet seats crack into pieces. Book bindings disintegrate. Parts that should be interchangeable, aren't. It's frustrating.

[ And as soon as I started letting students use the computers again the donated systems started to break down. I've already lost six of them. There's always something. ]

Lately, though, I have been keeping in mind a quote attributed to Confucius: "If you think in terms of a year, plant a seed; if in terms of ten years, plant trees; if in terms of a hundred years, teach people."

So I try not to get overly annoyed with so many things being poorly made, wearing out quickly, breaking down, not being properly maintained, or whatever. Because what I'm really here for is to plant, that is, to cultivate, people. That's a long term project. Something that will take generations. -Earl

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