Thursday, March 27, 2008

Opening General Session

I walked into Hall E, and felt immediately blind. It was bright in the hallway, and there were almost NO lights on in the Hall. I nearly ran smack dab into someone who stopped to take off her (black) coat, and I could not see a thing, Even sitting for about five minutes, I can’t even see the keyboard! [At last those touch typing classes are paying off!]

I am starting to get annoyed because the event was billed as starting at 2:30 and here it is almost quarter until 3 and there isn’t even anyone at the podium. I have to dash out early, so the longer they wait to start the less I will get to blog! On the screens (and there are six of them) are ads. Four are one shot and the other two are a different set. I am guessing that the four will have a projection of the speaker(s) and the transcription will be on the smaller pair. The good news is that at the back of the room there are bleachers with seats with arms.

Jan Sanders started out with jokes about having left Pasadena at 74 and arrived here with the temp at 19 and it was snowing! Of course this is the winter which seems like it will never end.

John Wood, trekking through Nepal he visited a school where there were 20 books for over 400 students. So he started to work setting up libraries across the world. He left Microsoft at age 35 and set up Room to Read, heart of Mother Theresa and the scalability of Starbucks. Since 2002 has set up libraries around the world.

His book is titled: Leaving Microsoft to Change the World. As is so often true he started with a library story and he loved his librarian. He considers himself an accidental philanthropist and accidental librarian. He actually go the title for his book before Bill Gates.

Every child on earth should be educated. How big to we dare to dream. Dare to dream bigger. World change starts with educated children. Education is a hand up not a hand out. Goal is to reach 20 million children across the world by 2012,

Went on trek to escape from work, and the leaders of Microsoft. Met a gentleman who invited to visit a school more than 2 days from the nearest paved road. Bridges are very scary especially if you have vertigo.

Library was a big empty room, no books! Books were in a locked cabinet because they were worried that the children would harm them. But the books were ones which had been left behind by trekkers. “Perhaps sir, someday you will come back with books.” One teacher was skeptical and said, many people have promised to come back but have not. Thought about the situation for the next 16 days. Vision that he would be come the Andrew Carnegie of Nepal.

Took for granted that the library was always there. In the developing world there is no one who has done what Andrew Carnegie did in the US.

Delivered 3000 books and because of the reaction, quit Microsoft to bring books and education to kids. Education is the number one way out of poverty. It is the best way to empower women and women and girls are the ones mostly left behind (in the economy).

Attack 3 problems:

  • 110 million children who should be enrolled in school who are not in school;
  • 800 million people cannot read or write, one out of seven people;
  • 2/3 of these are females

In the developing world school fees, uniforms etc are normal and usually the eldest son is the one who goes. This is not a woman’s issue, but an issue that men need to care about and do something about.

Discussion of what doing and how doing. Empowering local teams. Raise money here and let the locals deal with the local government; they are the ones who make the project sustainable. GSD – get stuff done.

Engage community through challenge grant. Will help you realize the vision of a school or library. You can only people who want to help themselves. Have to build “with” the people. See web site.

1 comment:

  1. This note is not really about libraries but the state of education in the world. I just received a letter with more information about the Baha'is in Iran being denied an education. This was more pronounced on the college level in the past but has now become a major issue for young children as well. Some of this also applies to other religious groups. There is more information here: . At the bottom of the article there is a summary of the incidents that have been taking place from June 2007 to January 2008. Just click on the link there. By the way, education in Iran, at least in the cities, is very good if you are a member of an approved religious group.

    -- From Diedre Conkling