Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wednesday Website:
TED & William Kamkwamba

Technology, Entertainment, Design. TED sponsors two annual conferences, one in California, the other in Oxford (UK) to bring together the world's most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes or less). The best talks and performances from TED are made available to the world, for free, on More than 700 TEDTalks are now available, with more added each week. I like to download interesting-sounding TEDTalk videos to my iTouch, and watch them when I have waiting time (like at the doctor's office).

One of this year's Junior High Summer Reading Bowl choices is The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, an autobiography/memoir by a young man from Malawi, William Kamkwamba. When he was a young teen William had to drop out of school. Unwilling to stop learning, he read science books from his village library and managed to build a windmill that generated electricity for indoor lights and a radio. Five years later, when he was about 19 years old, William first spoke about his achievements with co-author Bryan Mealor at TED Global 2007, in Arusha, Tanzania. He was very nervous.

Two years later, after many more achievements and triumphs, William spoke again, at TED Global 2009. A much more confident and experienced speaker, this short talk tells his story of determination, ingenuity and wonder.

Since 2007, William has been able to attend a pan-African boarding school for emerging leaders, begin a foundation to support similar self-help projects in Malawi, and write a blog. A short film about his windmills is being turned into a feature-length documentary. His book is one of my top books of the year (as well as an and Publisher's Weekly Top 10).

And all because 14-year-old William wanted to read his books after dark.

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