As part of Intel’s ongoing commitment to improving education through the effective use of technology, Intel’s Education Market Platforms Group (EMPG) launched the Intel Education Service Corps (IESC) in September 2009. This program is a short-term service and career development opportunity, for a select group of Intel employees to travel to a developing country to directly support the deployment of Intel-powered classmate PCs. In this blog, Bernd Nordhausen, a solutions architect with Intel’s World Ahead Program, recaps his team’s final week in Zambia.
‘Thank you’ is something you say to somebody who gives you a pen, so to say thank you to what you have brought to this school and this community does not do justice.” These were the translated words of the village elder to us, the Intel Education Service Corps team in Zambia. The village elder spoke in Tonga, the local language of the Chikanta chiefdom, as we were saying goodbye to the students, teachers and the surrounding community of Jonathan Sim-Chikanta High School in rural southern Zambia.
We, the team of Intel volunteers consisting of John Parks (Software and Solutions Group), MJ Helgerson (Sales and Marketing Group), Kandi Collier (Technology and Manufacturing Group), Tim Lohman (Finance and Enterprise Services), and Bernd Nordhausen (Sales and Marketing Group), had just completed a two-week assignment to set up the solar-powered computer lab and to train teachers and students. The lab was funded through the amazing work of Austin Gutwein, founder of Hoops of Hope (and son of Intel employee Dan Gutwein (Embedded Computing Group)), and managed by World Vision Zambia.
As we were listening, we felt that it was us who should have said those words of the village elder. We were told before our journey that Zambians were extremely friendly, yet none of us were prepared for the hospitality and warmth of the students, teachers and the community. Starting with the reception on our arrival, the official opening (and dance), the football game, the movie and slide show (all powered by solar), and the farewell which stretched to over two hours, we were at times overwhelmed by the reception that we received.
But it was the 1:1 interactions during the classes and breaks that we enjoyed the most. We felt truly privileged to provide access to educational opportunities to these students who have so little of the material comforts that we take for granted, to whom the simple act of getting water is a 15-minute walk to the water pump, who play football (soccer) barefoot on a pitch so rocky and rough that we could not even walk it without shoes let alone play against them, and to whom the cloud of HIV/AIDS is omni-present, yet whose desire for education went beyond anything we had seen.
So, even though the same words you say to someone who gives you a pen don’t adequately express what we feel, we would like to say:
• to Hoops of Hope, thank you for raising the funds for the computer lab and providing a unique educational opportunity to the students of Jonathan Sim-Chikanta High School,
• to World Vision Zambia, thank you for building the lab and hosting our team,
• to Intel Education Service Corps, thank you for providing us the opportunity to come to Zambia, and most of all
• to the students and teachers of Jonathan Sim-Chikanta High School , thank you for allowing us into your lives and letting us provide one of the keys to your success.
While we were sent as teachers, it was us who ended up with most of the learnings.
P.S. Click here to catch up on the adventures, experiences and learnings from the 18 previous Intel Education Service Corps teams.