Samantha Rim writes:
My time in Africa was so much more than what I had anticipated or ever dreamt it to be. First, I am very grateful to Mr. & Mrs. Lusby for giving me this once in a lifetime opportunity to go to a country that I would have never imagined to go. My time in Africa has enlightened me in so many different ways that I have shared my stories and pictures with as many people as possible since my return. I also want to thank Mrs. Lusby’s extended family for welcoming me and making me feel a part of their family during my stay in Africa. Now I fully understand Mrs. Lusby’s passion and dedication to her cause in wanting to provide the much needed education in her homeland as I witnessed it with my own eyes.
If I had to think of one word that would describe my time in Africa it would without a doubt be “humbled.” I was immediately humbled when people of completely different culture, language, and background accepted me into their family. The language barrier had no bearing in what was clearly understood from the start. Mrs. Lusby’s family in Africa welcomed me with their arms wide open because I think they truly knew I was there to make a difference. They gave up their home and time to make my stay in their country comfortable and pleasant, which they succeeded. I was furthermore humbled by how much everyone appreciated our effort to teach the students the computer class. The students that attended the class each day truly had the desire to learn as they sat for hours to learn, what was sometimes a difficult task due to the language barrier. However, the language barrier did not stop us from teaching the students because they wanted to learn and we could not let them down. This humbled me so much as I thought about how much we take our education for granted in the United States. Even though it was sometimes hard to understand, the students sat with their eyes wide open as we attempted to teach them. These students looked up to us and took in every word we said as they tried their best to understand. We were just three young high school students from Arlington, VA and they believed in us and what we were teaching them. I was humbled that they would even just sit in a class for hours listening to us.
I was even more humbled when I visited the school. The school was still under construction and clearly Mrs. Lusby was not happy about the status of the construction. When I first entered the finished part of the school, I immediately saw the warped desks and chairs. The classroom was somewhat small and filled with rows of wooden desks and chairs that were old. When I thought about how the students could ever learn in such a setting, I was humbled once again. These students didn’t care about the condition of the desks and chairs or how uncomfortable they were. They were just happy to have the opportunity to learn. They didn’t desire the luxury classrooms that we were used to in the states; rather they were thankful for having a school and the teachers to teach them. I truly believe that they could have been in the worst setting ever and they still would have been happy because it wasn’t about how nice the place was, but they just wanted a place they could call their school.
I was given the opportunity to offer an afternoon of camp to the young children in town. This was so much fun and an eye opener. I was humbled through this experience as well. When the neighborhood was informed that a camp would be offered, I was expecting about 15 to 20 kids. When an unexpected number of kids lined up, I was humbled by their enthusiasm and eagerness. My heart ached when we had to turn away some of the kids due to lack of space and supplies. These young kids just wanted to have fun and do crafts, color, and play with balloons. These are simple things that many kids in the states take for granted, but not the kids in this town. I was humbled when they looked at me with their big brown eyes and smiles as I helped them color or gave them a sticker. They loved every minute of it and I was so happy to have had a glimpse of seeing the joy in their eyes.
Lastly, but not the least, I was humbled by Mrs. Lusby’s passion to help the students in her homeland. I witnessed as she worked with the students, teachers, construction workers, and parents to provide a place where the students can feel safe and have the opportunity to learn so they can better themselves. Even though this is not an easy thing to do, Mrs. Lusby continues to work hard and gives so much of her time, money, and effort to make a difference so that these students have hope to be able to further their education so they can sustain themselves when they become independent adults. Her hard work is evident in her town as so many are appreciative and the respect they have for her is very transparent. I am humbled to have seen the difference one person can make and hope that I too can do the same one day in my lifetime. Mrs. Lusby is truly a role model and her homeland of Senegal is very blessed and fortunate to have someone like her behind them.
I am truly humbled that for whatever reason, I was given the opportunity to see firsthand the great need in Africa and hope that I can somehow continue to take part in helping the great students I met there.
Marcus Lusby writes:
After two weeks in Senegal, West Africa, I got a taste for the culture and lifestyles that the people have over there. It was a truly eye opening and wonderful experience I will never forget. During the eight days we spent in Nioro, Senegal, Kyle, Samantha, and I introduced 15 students to a software program called Ubuntu installed on the laptops donated to OPEN Intl for the CAPB. At first the lessons dragged on and on and it didn’t seem like we were making much progress, but after a while the students finally got the hang of things. After a week of lessons, usually twice a day, the students could navigate through the Ubuntu system, properly and effectively use the OpenOffice.org word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation programs. Kyle, Samantha, and I were very proud of all the students we taught, and knew that they were prepared to teach all of the students attending C APB how to use the laptops when school resumes in October.
After the first morning lesson, my parents took us to College Adja Penda Ba to see how the construction was coming along. The two original classrooms were still in reasonably good condition, but the new building, where the computer lab and other classrooms were supposed to be, was not finished by the time we arrived. It was very disappointing, not just to me, but to both of my parents. With all of the laptops successfully shipped over, we expected the room to be ready to install the laptops, but they were still working on the construction. Also I noticed that computer/student desks and outlet extensions were desperately needed.
Kyle Lusby writes:
I learned a lot in my short trip to Senegal, my mom’s home country. While we were there we spent time in the capital, a beach resort, and the most important place, Nioro du Rip, the town that Open International is building the school in. When we were there, Marcus, Samantha, and I helped teach some of the students from the CAPB School how to use the computers that were donated by a generous organization in the US. Most of the students never used computers before, and none of them had ever used a word processor or PowerPoint program before. We taught them the basics they needed to know about the computers and how the computers could help them with their school work. The students learned valuable skills that will help them navigate through Ubuntu, the software installed in the school laptops.
These students showed their dedication in many ways throughout the training. For instance, it was Ramadan and they were all fasting. It was also sometimes raining, but that did not stop them from attending. They all did not live next door, and some of them had to walk a long way to get to the training facility and participate. I noticed that most of the tables and desks at the CAPB School are broken and run down; the school is still a construction zone as the new building is not completely done yet. It amazes me that ninety students (three different grades) spent all year taking turns in two classrooms for their regular classes and yet displays pride and gratitude in their school and OPEN Intl for giving them a chance to continue their education. That is why I think there should be more funding going to the classrooms, so the students can have decent chalkboards, tables and chairs, books, and school supplies they absolutely need . It is my belief that if these students have the help and support they need, it would greatly benefit them and they will go on to do great things with their lives and be positive role models for the next generation.