Perspective

Photo byJeff Turner

The photo above is of a “Computer College” in Nairobi, Kenya. Jeff Turner took it on his recent visit there to further the amazing work Mothers Fighting for Others is doing for some young ladies in Kenya.

Jeff wrote a terrific piece today about his travels titled, Kenya – Recalibrating My Worldview.

Go read it. Trust me.

From Jeff’s piece regarding the computer college:

One of the projects Josephine [Josephine Chaveseki, founder of the Fair Oaks Academy in the Quarry Slum of Nairobi, Kenya] was eager to show me was their computer college. In Kenya, colleges and universities are quite different things. But by any definition, before this day, I would never have described what I saw as a computer college. The lone student in the room was diligently working on an assignment as we toured. Josephine was very proud of the college and what it was doing to prepare its graduates to seek work. All I could think while standing there was how woefully inadequate it seemed.

I had more computing power on the phone I took that photo linked above with than all of the computers in that room combined. And yet, the student there appeared delighted to be learning. And what I was delighted to learn, as we walked from room to room, and as I looked at the faces of the children and the teachers, is that the quality of the education being given could not be limited by the weakness of the facilities. It could only be limited by the will to teach and the desire to learn. Neither appeared to be lacking.

When I saw the photo of the computer college, my mind immediately flashed back to the tour my family and I recently took of Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. In a few short months my daughter will be starting a new chapter of her life as an incoming freshman at “Cronkite”.

It is an impressive facility. Very impressive. Built in 2008, the main building is a six-story 225,000 square foot building that “is equipped with 14 digital newsrooms and computer labs, two TV studios, 280 digital student work stations, the Cronkite Theater, the First Amendment Forum and the latest and most sophisticated technology found anywhere.”

Here are a couple of photos I took on the tour:

The "News Studio" at ASU Cronkite School of Journalism

The "Control Room" at the Cronkite School

Compare and contrast those two photos with the picture of the Nairobi computer college at the top of the article.

Kind of makes you stop and think doesn’t it? Maybe puts some things in perspective?

It sure did for me.

I’ve never visited Africa, but I did visit Beijing and Tianjin, China for a week and the abject poverty I saw there was eye-opening. Beijing is a growing and vibrant city. But there are multi-story skyscrapers sitting next to slums with houses made of dirt and cardboard. Yet virtually everyone we saw had a smile on their face. We could hear laughter in the streets. Laughter emanating from people that earn in a year what many of us make in one day…

We are privileged to live in the greatest country in the history of mankind.

And I think we often forget that. We take things for granted. We bitch and complain about the economy, because our job sucks, that people suck. We get pissed off when our team loses a playoff game. Or Facebook changes their layout. Or Twitter goes off-line. And we whine about that?

Really?

Yes, I am guilty too.

Almost a year ago over on my other blog I wrote an article – A life-altering moment. Putting things in perspective. One of my most commented articles, it seemed to resonate with many. The article recounts some horribly frightening moments when I came upon the carnage of a fatal car accident and was certain my only son was involved.

I said then that I was going to look at life differently, to put things in perspective. While I’ve done a fairly reasonable job of that, I still forget. Jeff’s article rekindled that desire, that need, to look at things differently.

Look at that top photo again. A young Kenyan girl working hard in a schoolroom with plywood walls and a corrugated tin roof. Then imagine my own daughter, also working hard, in a facility that costs tens of millions of dollars and contains more computers, cameras and technology than probably exist in some third-world countries.

Ponder that for a moment.

Jeff tells us that his worldview still needs more recalibrating.

Yeah, mine too.