Faces of Education

Happy Monday, Readers!

Today, we had the honor of having retired US Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Rex Temple, the man who started the “School Supplies for Afghan Children” project, come speak to us about his experience during his last deployment. It was during this last tour in Afghanistan that he was inspired by a young 8 year old boy to collect and distribute school supplies to needy children in the war torn country. What begin as a simple idea of activating his friends and family back in the U.S. to help narrow the gap to education grew to a project that now spans 17 states. His blog, which he began for the purpose of keeping friends and family updated on his daily life while on a year-long deployment, now has an average of 400-700 hits each day despite not being updated since April 2010. What is it the connecting thread that causes this project and his site to have so many people interested?

   Something that he said today regarding education stuck with me. He said that when he asked the 8 year old boy why he regarded a ball point pen more valuable than a piece of candy the boy essentially responded that he realized that education was the way out of poverty. SMSgt. Temple also informed us that amongst the group of almost 700 Afghan soldiers that were under his charge, more than 80% were illiterate. 80%! He put it in perspective for us by using practical examples of how difficult it would be to explain how things work if someone is unable to read. Everything would then need to be explained through pictures, demonstrations, verbally. There’s no way to give a book to someone on electricity and have them understand how it occurs.

Oprah and Tom Brokaw during an interview on the Bravest Families in America (Photo by Harpo Studios)

So, to go back to the questions that I had previously posed: I think the answer to why the project and the blog have taken such a life of their own is due to education. In an interview by Oprah , Tom Brokaw states that, “less than 1 percent of the American population is bearing 100% of the burden of the battle.” The education is not merely education for the kids in Afghanistan but also for us here. It is an expansion of the little boy’s belief that education is the way to a better future. The supplies are so that they may be educated and form their own thoughts about the world around them. The blog is for the 99% of us to educate ourselves a bit more about the world situation which drives us to participate in projects such as this one and to read SMSgt. Temple’s blog, gaining an insight into a world that we do not know.

An all girls classroom with the students sharing one desk (Photo by SMSgt. Rex Temple)

Basically, today I was just impressed again by how valuable education is and the forms that education can take. Education is not only in the traditional form of classwork but also about being informed. Education and information go hand-in-hand. You are educated through taking in information about the world around you and I’ve realized that I have a whole lot more that needs to be taken in.

So until next time~


About Phoebe

I'm a student at the University of South Florida majoring in Biomedical Sciences. I would like to be a Speech Language Pathologist in the future. In my spare time I enjoy learning new things, meeting new people, spending time with my family and traveling. Oh, and a good book is always a plus!
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