I am a student at the University of Wisconsin studying Hydrogeology and water chemistry so taking a trip to Africa with Better World Books is a pretty big change! Despite classes that focus on advanced calculus, advection/dispersion math equations and contaminant flow physics, I have a feeling (even after the first day!) that I will learn more on this trip than any former class or job has taught me.
As the service chair for the UW-Eau Claire chapter of Golden Key International Society, I coordinated my campus Better World Books book drive this year. My responsibility is to coordinate volunteers to collect and box books, and ensure those books go to our bookstore to be shipped. In the last few days, I have learned what happens after our textbooks are boxed, taped and shipped. It is so inspiring to learn about the people that work to receive, scan, sort and ship our books to the non-profits that distribute them to schools all over Africa. Some of those people are on this trip, and I am having a fantastic time getting to know them.
Each of us it different; some well traveled, some new to traveling, others who will try goat for lunch and some of us (including me) who are aren’t quite as adventurous just yet. However, we are all enthusiastic about learning how Better World Books and Invisible Children have helped the local schools and students.
Today we visited four schools in the Gulu area. Each of the libraries are modest but essential to the development of each student. I had the opportunity to visit with Phoebe, a shy teenage student who enjoys music, especially R&B. She’s studying to become an engineer with the goal to help children and the elderly. She loves to study, but recognizes that her school needs more books. This touched me- and I really felt for the students who have never walked into a library where there are 1000 book shelves. The library at Phoebe’s school had 5 partially-filled shelves of books.
I also spoke with a librarian at Gulu High School who brought us into a senior classroom (the average size which is 70 students, unheard of in the US!). When the librarian introduced us as the people that collect books to ship to their schools, the students broke out in a unanimous round of applause. It was an amazing experience, and really gave me an awareness of how fortunate I am to be educated in the States, and how many basic needs have not been met in much of the world, and how much room there is for improvement. And this is only Day 1…
– Audrey Mohr, University of Wisconsin
Check out the earlier Africa trip posts: