What does your education mean to you? A chance to influence the future by being a teacher? A second career after "retiring"? A better job from updated skills? A chance to pursue a lifelong dream? For one young man, his education, or better yet, lack of education, meant life for his small community.
You can read about this remarkable young man, William Kamkwamb, at http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/africa/10/05/malawi.wind.boy/index.html. William was kicked out of school because his parents couldn't afford the $80 to send him to school. William began to spend a great deal of time at the library. A book about energy and harnessing the wind caught his eye. William built a windmill on his family's farm. He used bits and pieces of whatever he could find to build the simple apparatus so his family could have electricity and water. William was 14-years old at the time. Now, at 22, he is a student at the African Leadership Academy, an elite school in South Africa for young leaders. William's family and villagers thought he was crazy when he built his first windmill. That soon changed when his creation started generating electricity and pumping water, first for his family, then for his village. And all because of one young man's curiosity about the wind and his determination to make life better for his village.
As nontrads, we have something our younger counterparts don't have - life experience. We know what the "real world" is like. Many of us are juggling families, jobs, aging parents and the cost of life in general as we pull all-nighters in order to finish research papers and study for exams. That's what our education means to us.
Like William, our families and friends may think we are nuts in our pursuits. Yet, it takes courage, determination, hard work and good old-fashioned spunk to return to school in the midst of life. Perhaps you're questioning your decision to return to school because it's overwhelming or you failed that last exam or you're having writer's block on that research paper or you're the oldest student in a class of pre-20's.
William took what little education he had and silenced the naysayers of his village. He pressed on. You can, too. Press on and press in. Your education means your future. Be a windmill. Stay tuned . . .