I recently joined the Honors College last year, and to my surprise these classes weren’t all about Socrates and Descartes. These classes allowed you to expand your mind beyond the realm of interpreting philosophers and sitting around staring at a whiteboard in a classroom. This class in particular demands that we take our abilities beyond the classroom; we apply what we learn in the classroom and use the skills we develop in order to create our own fundraising event, pitch our project to a philanthropist, and recruit supporters by spreading information. Our class isn’t about sitting around in a classroom staring at our professor write in the board (like so many of my lecture classes have been), it is about reaching an arm out to the children in Afghanistan who haven’t got a classroom to sit in, or a whiteboard to look at. Now that I am at the end of my senior year, I find this project almost fitting as I can take what I learn beyond USF. It is a challenge, but I hope to rise to it.
On the first day of class I learned what we were fundraising and collecting school supplies for. I learned that many children in Afghanistan did not even have a simple pencil and paper in order to go to school and get an education. The simple things we take for granted were precious to them. We saw pictures of small tents in which the children were crowded under for classes. While students at USF complain of air conditioning temperatures in classrooms and uncomfortable chairs, children in Afghanistan are huddled under tents in what, in my opinion, would be unbearable heat. I had never been more aware of how much I had to be grateful for than when looking at the excitement on the children’s faces when they received a simple pencil.
What I found most upsetting was finding out that it was difficult and sometimes just not possible to get school supplies to girls’ schools. Having no military background made this concept near impossible for me to grasp and left me outraged. However, our professor explained to us that getting supplies to children in Afghanistan was a delicate matter, and that sometimes we have to be grateful that we can get supplies there at all. While this idea still leaves me upset, it will not deter me from making as much of an impact as I can.
Monday was our first class in action. Liisa Hyvarinen Temple, our professor, brought in supplies and boxes. The class split into three groups of three of four students in each. Each group had a set of boxes, binders, and paper. We began filling each binder with a packet of paper and packing the paper into boxes. We quickly realized that we had two extra binders and began our search for paper to hole punch. We found computer paper we could hole punch and place into one of the binders. This made me realize what an impact even the simplest things could make on children on the other side of the world. It made me realize that collecting school supplies might be more difficult than anticipated. A few other students and I took on the role of writing labels. I found myself humbled by the thought of the impact we were making. I felt honored to have this opportunity to reach out and give those children in Afghanistan their own sense of power through education because education is the tool that can set anyone free.
So I ask you, all of you, reading this blog: to my Facebook friends who see this on my wall and family members hunched over their computer desks, my residents who I begged and pleaded to read this blog, and also all of the other people out there I haven’t met yet, I ask you to take this journey with me, through my blog posts and pictures, my thoughts and experiences. Learn with me the way a child would, with eager eyes and an open heart.