Rural Schools Letter of Thanks (2)

Mon, 24 Jul 2006 23:47:14 -1000
Dear Mr. Heiman,
I was lucky enough to be one of the science teachers that participated
in this year’s Teachers Without Borders — South Africa project, led
by my friend Yunus Peer. It was an incredible personal and
professional experience; memories will remain with me for the rest of
my life!
Certainly one of the high points was to participate in a school-wide
assembly highlighting Cornell’s donation of computers to Mdlangaswa
high school. The school is in a rural area, located among a small
community of spread-out homes; sugarcane seems to be the primary
agriculture. In my opinion, although the school is isolated, it is
run by an energetic principal who was obviously on top of things, and
also well-liked by students and staff. The room dedicated to the
computers is quite simple, but perfectly adequate; approval has been
granted for additional security. I had the opportunity to talk with
one of the teachers, and she said all the students of all grade levels
would get instruction on the computers. The plans were to begin quite
logically with keyboarding skills. There’s a teacher to student ratio
of 1 to 60 or more; so a third of a classroom will be getting computer
instruction at a time, while the other students are doing work back in
the classroom.
I also want to mention the technical follow-through at this end of the
shipping of the computers. I had an opportunity to meet Dick Basday,
the person in Port Shepstone that oversaw the transfer of the
computers from their arrival in RSA to the school. He and his
technicians checked the computers and prepared them for use in the
school. I spoke with one of the technicians before the school
assembly, and he was quite complimentary about the condition of the
computers and the memory & software that they came with. I know that
everyone was most appreciative that these computers were not
broken-down, cast-off machines!
I can report to you all that I have in the paragraphs above, but still
miss the point if I didn’t try to convey to you the look I saw in
students’ eyes. It was a look of “I can reach to my future.” Here
are these kids in rural South Africa, and it is now within their reach
to grow up to become whatever they are motivated to be!! There will
be doctors, teachers, astronomers, business men and
women…professions and dreams of all sorts coming out of those
classrooms. Cornell’s computers couldn’t be in better hands!
Thank you so much; aloha,
Barbara

Barbara Mayer, M.S.
nature, science educator
20 years classroom instruction
curriculum writer