Last night was really interesting, it was so much fun to see three people who I have known for several years as they were in 1968. All three; Bonnie, Chips and Chuck were just out of college in 1968. Bonnie was a newly wed and she embarked in her married life with her new husband off to two years in Tanzania. Her slideshow was devoted to pictures of her students, their school building and the local scenery. She talked about the living conditions, lack of indoor plumbing, excess of insects and the necessary adaptations to the local cuisine.
Chips showed us his pictures of Niger and his time at the village with his students. The poverty level was even more devastating in Niger than in Tanzania. When Bonnie and her husband had been in Tanzania, the British had just left, so their infrastructure was in better shape than in Niger who had been suffering indirectly by the war going on in next door Nigeria. War is devastating no matter how you slice it.
Chuck showed us his travels throughout Chile. He wasn’t a teacher, his specialty was in forestry and his project was to plant trees all around his area. The town that he called home was dirt poor and the surrounding area had been deforested through necessity borne out of poverty. He engaged the local council and the townspeople all the way down to all the children in town to get saplings and planting them along the roads and shanties, not only to beautify the community but also to minimize all the erosion that was plaguing the region.
I have to say that the whole evening was quite enjoyable; I feel that I got to know my fellow Blandfordites a little better (my cookies were a hit) and it is quite nice to see that a program launched by President Kennedy in the spirit of “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country” is still doing well.