June 7, 2005

kids straight off the plane...

Nice story from Jay Manifold:

Early evening, St Patrick's Day. Science Night at Della Lamb Elementary in downtown KC: seven spoken languages amongst the student body; at least a third of the kids are straight off the plane from some of the deepest hellholes on Earth (refugee camps in Somalia, Sudan, etc), still learning to use plumbing and electricity....

....I found the Moon. It took a while. Magnification was maybe 30x; the disk subtended about half the field of view. A fat crescent with some Earthshine and high-relief features in the Southern Highlands and along the coastlines of Mare Serenitatis and Mare Tranquillitatis.

An African girl, maybe 7 or 8 years old, steps up. Swathed from head to foot in some kind of robe, which is just as well, because it's not warm and there's a strong breeze. I think how strange this environment must seem to her, and wonder how many family members she has lost, and how many people have died before her eyes. She is utterly silent. I point to the eyepiece, and she leans in for a look.

Three seconds later she has leaned back, eyes wide, looking directly into mine -- and grinning from ear to ear, brilliant white teeth gleaming in the darkness. She gazes at me, and then, instead of stepping away, she leans over for another, longer look. Only then does she leap away to find a friend and share the wonder. It occurs to me that some members of the next generation of scientists may have unlikely origins....


Posted by John Weidner at June 7, 2005 1:55 PM
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