With the paperback edition of The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind(one of our top 10 books of 2009) hitting shelves today, we checked in with author/inventor/dynamo William Kamkwamba to see where his inspiring journey has taken him over the last eight months.
Not surprisingly, he provided a staggering list of accomplishments.
Dear friends at Amazon,
So many great things have happened since the last time we spoke. Our book tour took us all across the United States, into so many wonderful places and back out again that I remember it almost like a dream. Along this great journey, I got to meet Jon Stewart, speak with Diane Sawyer, and tell my story at such great institutions as Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry and the Seattle Public Library. But what stands out the most were the crowds of young people who came to each event saying how my book inspired them to learn science and encouraged them to think big. To me, that was as great an achievement as building my very first windmill.
Another thing: over the spring and summer, I also achieved one of my biggest dreams and rebuilt my village primary school. I couldn't have done it without the help of my friends at buildOn, a group who organizes community service projects for young people in American cities, while even recruiting them for their other mission: building schools in poor countries. So far, they've built 364 schools in five countries, including Malawi. In Wimbe, we added classrooms to accommodate 1,540 students, supplied them proper desks and chairs, and installed over a dozen computers donated by my friends at One Laptop Per Child. And of course, I built a hybrid system to produce the school's electricity: two giant solar panels and a windmill powered by a 1500-watt generator that I built myself from big magnets and lots of wire.
Amidst all of this, another dream of mine was fulfilled: I finally graduated high school and was accepted into a university. After two fantastic years at African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg, South Africa, I'll be studying engineering in the fall at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. While on our book tour, Bryan Mealer (my co-author) and I visited several colleges who were kind enough to invite me to see their engineering programs. I visited Harvey Mudd in California, Virginia Tech, and Southern Methodist University in Dallas, and was amazed at the beautiful campuses and equipment available to students. But after seeing Dartmouth and meeting its president Dr. Jim Kim "“ who I admired for his previous work treating people with AIDS and tuberculosis in Africa and Haiti "“ I knew it was the place for me. In addition to having a cool project-based curriculum (meaning I can get my hands dirty the first week there), the Thayer School of Engineering even has a lending library for power tools! Seeing this, I couldn't stop smiling.
So if you're ever in Hanover and see me walking around with my stack of books and looking stressed and sleepy, say hello. But I assure you, I won't be there long. After I graduate college, I'll be going back to Africa. As I've always said, my heart belongs to Malawi, and so does my work.
To keep up with the always-moving William, visit his blog at www.williamkamkwamba.com.