Vermont schools supply Tanzanian village with new technology

Published: Aug. 28, 2022 at 10:05 AM EDT
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NORTHFIELD, Vt. (WCAX) - One small town in Vermont is making an effort to supply schools halfway around the world with new technology. Organizers say this experience has been life-changing, not only for them but for students near and far.

“It’s really helping them jump right into the 21st century,” Mike Macijeski said.

Macijeski is a retired history teacher from Northfield Middle High School. After taking a trip with several students back in 2015 to Pommern, a small village in Tanzania, a project between several schools in Central Vermont was born.

The goal is to provide used laptops, iPads and other computers overseas.

“Most schools in the U.S., they’re on about a four-year cycle for computers because everything is always getting newer. I had made friends with the headmaster,” Macijeski said. “I said, ‘Hey Shad, my school has 30 or 40 computers. Would you like them if I can get them to you?’”

That’s what happened. Not once, but now twice.

This past week, Macijeski and other partners, like Nicole DiDomenico, the director of the Center for Civic Engagement at Norwich University, were able to collect hundreds of pieces of equipment, load them onto pallets and ship them out.

“Some of these students have never interacted with a computer before -- and those who have, have dealt with pretty [spotty] equipment,” DiDomenico said. “So the more we can get there, honestly the better for them. The better chance they’re going to be able to really access the learning that’s intended.”

For DiDomenico, the partnership started more than a decade ago. Over the years, she and several groups of students have been able to help build the village from the ground up. Providing access to things like living space, a barn, and a sunflower oil and bottling facility.

She says what started as a simple volunteer project has turned into lifelong relationships.

“The students here who know that, who have seen that first hand, come back with a deeper appreciation for their own opportunities and the things they have here. The lessons learned go way beyond just a simple donation and receipt of the donation. It’s lessons learned for everyone,” DiDomenico said.

Organizers say the equipment is set to arrive in Tanzania by the end of October.