What an exciting day as “School Supplies for Afghan Children” moves to the Honors College at the University of South Florida. For the next four months my husband USAF SMSgt Rex Temple and I will be sharing everything we’ve learned about charity work, philanthropy and social media since Rex first started his military deployment blog Afghanistan – My Last Tour in early 2009; in conjunction with that blog he started a school supplies drive for the children in Afghanistan in June 2009 after having been in the country for less than two months.
We have 12 wonderful students who will spend the semester learning about efforts to bring peace to Afghanistan through education. Our textbooks for this class are “Three Cups of Tea” and “Stones into Schools” by Greg Mortenson as well as many of Rex’s original blog posts from Afghanistan. The students are required to engage in efforts to collect donated school supplies and then organize their shipment to Afghanistan where they will be distributed by members of the U.S. military who have signed up to receive these items. The students will also learn
all about blogs, Facebook, Twitter and other aspects of social media that have helped us reach volunteers in 17 states for this project. And they will interact with members of the U.S. military and their families learning about what life is like for deployed US troops at remote combat outposts and forward operating bases and how families cope with the absence of their loved ones.
This course would not be here if it weren’t for a wonderful former student of mine, Carmel Delshad. Carmel was my student at USF’s School of Mass Communications for a few years and became a close personal friend when I took a break from full-time teaching during Rex’s deployment. Carmel worked countless hours on the school supplies drive with me and was the person who suggested this project would become a class for the Honors College where she was a student at the time. She’s since moved onto grad school at the City University of New York where she’s studying international reporting.
Our warmest thanks to Dr. Stuart Silverman, the Dean of the Honors College and Assistant Dean Georg Kleine for giving us the opportunity to share what we have learned with the students. Kleine recently told the USF Oracle that the university needed a class that deals directly with the war in Afghanistan.
“It’s negligent that we’re living in this cocoon of ours where it’s so easy to forget that (the war) is going on and has been for a very long time,” he said. “Community service is too frequently only related to our immediate environment. I think that extending it in this direction and allowing students to acquire skills that may be transferable to other organizations in the future is a good thing.”
It will be an exciting semester! As of today we have sent more than 15,000 pounds of school supplies to Afghanistan and are excited to see how the students will take this project forward. GO BULLS!