December 30, 2003
The Village Genius
Here’s a good WaPo series (Parts 2 and 3) on a woman from a rural Kenyan village sent to college in America, on a scholarship and with considerable financial help from her fellow villagers. She was sent with the agreement that she would return to the village after she got her degree, build a school there, improve the water system, and possibly even bring electricity.
It’s a good read, looking at American culture, and at an American college, through an unfamiliar lens. The portrait it paints of rural Kenya is most fascinating. Do the villagers have unrealistic expectations for what a college degree means, or is it legit to think that one person with a degree could transform life for the folks back home? I mean, I’m pretty proud of my degree and all, but I don’t know if it would equip me to start even the most humble school. And I sure don’t know anything about irrigation or electricity.
I guess if I went to college with such predetermined needs for what I wanted to learn or accomplish, I might have gotten some great insights into bringing irrigation or electricity to a rural village. Kakenya Ntaiya, the woman in the article, started out planning to be an economics major. I wonder, would an economics major feel s/he’s graduated with the skills necessary to reform the life of a town? Prod, prod.