Eritrean children "SUN SHINES ON THEIR FUTURE"
By: Saad Ali
San Diego, Dec.11, 2001 (CAP)

This was the motto of Dr. Joyce Blueford when she  presented her project briefly at the Event titled "Silicon Valley Leaders Come Together in Support of Math/Science Nucleus' NetAfrica Eritrea Science Project." The event celebration/fund raising was held at the Fair child auditorium at Stanford University on Dec 8, 2001. I was hesitant to go at first, but it was worth every minute of it.

The event started with people coming in and mingling, introducing to each other. It was a $100 dollar per plate event. It has an Eritrean Cultural theme. As you come in to the building, you are welcomed by a smiling faces of the members of the Math Science Nucleus (http://www.msnucleus.org). Each person who had called or faxed their pledge had a name tag prepared for them. The name tags save a lot of embarrassment for those who are bad with names. The hall was divided into two sections. The dinner table and the Buffet. The menu consisted of traditional Eritrean diet ,injera, tebshi derho, dinnish salata, hamli and appetizer, megli.

On two corners of the hall there were the traditional Eritrean coffee roasting (bun meglaw). Two beautiful Eritrean woman, dressed in traditional Zuriya, roasted coffee and served it to the guests of the event. The aroma of the coffee roasting filled the place. Some of the guests were familiar with tradition. One of the Guests, Dr. Mary Lake Polan, a physician at Stanford University, who had visited Eritrea, had the pictures that she took displayed on the walls on the reception area. There were young Eritreans, professional and distinguished guests. 


The Event started more or less as scheduled. Guests were welcomed by one of the event coordinator Teclu Tesfazghi. He welcomed the Guest. Mr. Teclu is a board member of the MS Nucleus. He was all over the place making sure that all the guests are comfortable and enjoying themselves. I can tell you from what I saw, they were very much enjoying the whole environment. It was hard to get a hold of Teclu, to even talk to him for a second. But, He managed to squeeze a little time to introduce me to several guests and fellow Eritrean American professional. 

Around 6:30pm Mr. Teclu Tesfazghi opened the evening by the traditional opening of ZIKRE SEMAETAT," -Remembering the martyrs of Eritrea, He introduced as a first speaker a young Eritrean by the name Ruth Negash. Graduated with BS from UCDavis in Physiology and went to serve in a peace corp in Jordan. Ruth is back now in the bay area teaching 7th grade in Alum Rock District. She was also the coordinator of the cultural event of the evening. She introduced the young Eritreans dressed in the traditional cloths and dancing to the tunes of Tigrigna, Tigra and Saho. After each dance the Organizer, Ruth, Gave a brief description of the tribe and history behind it. Later on, she presented the nine tribes in a fashion show during the dinner.

One of the speakers was Creg Johnson. He was a peace corp member in Ethiopia. The motto he used to start his speech, with his accent, was "Kes Bekes Inqulal beegru Yihedal," the same motto was also used earlier by Teclu on his introduction. Craig was able to translate it literally. Creg stated that "possibly the creating of knowledge in Eritrea may be not next year, but five, ten, 20 or 30 years, not unlike what is happening in Silicon Valley, India or Taiwan, where the human talent of the kids, which could eventually be translated into jobs/they could revive employment to people in Eritrea and eventually have connection between silicon valley and Eritrea." 

The elements that surprised me in the evening was how much the peace corp was part of the coordinators and guest. Either they were members of the corps or were influenced by a corp member. It was mentioned several times during the evening gala. As the evening went along, a young man, by the name of Milan Selassie, introduced the senator Tom Campbell, Milan is an eloquent speaker. He is a financial consultant for Solomon Smith Barney, a member of Citicorp. Milan talked about his life briefly. He is a Duke Graduate and was a member of the campaign mgrs for Tom Campbell. Milan introduced the Senator as kind,honest,compassionate and dedicated to any cause that he takes. In one part of his introduction he used an expression "how can you introduce your brother to your parents." Prof. Campbell, a law Prof at Stanford university, gave a brief story on how he got involved with Eritrea. He was a member of the US house rep on African subcommittee. He volunteered to be a member. Tom Campbell stated, " most of my colleagues were drawn by duty to Paris and so on, but I thought I would do good if I specialized in an area few Congressman will be spending time on" he went on to say "If America devoted a little bit of time and little bit of its resources to work with people who are here to work for themselves, imagine the good we would do and just ask, hypothetically, suppose that would have been our foreign policy do you think we will be in  state we are right now in the world". Senator Campbell was able to give a certain information that he obtained from the his friends in congress regarding the situation in Eritrea. One of the things he mentioned was, he was on a "fact finding" mission in 21 countries in Africa. Out of all this countries he chose Eritrea. in law and economics. Actually, Mr. Campbell and his wife will be traveling to Eritrea this week to teach in Asmara University for the next 4 weeks. Susan, the Senator's wife, will be teaching university administration and fund raising while the Prof will be teaching law and economics. It may not be a lot of time, but the effort put by the congressman is commendable. As he put it, this time is special why is it special because the people of Eritrea are special. At the end of his speech he said he had thanksgiving 1997 in Eritrea he will have Christmas 2001 in Eritrea and continue to go back to Eritrea, which he is proud to call, second home.  

Dr. Mary Lake Polan spoke briefly. Dr. Polan visited Eritrea and looked at the health care issue for woman. Right now Dr. Polan has designed a project and recruited three of her colleagues and manage to get a funding. She will be going Eritrea to work in woman's health care to improve the maternal outcomes with baby's outcome. The last person to speak was Dr. Joyce Blueford. The founder and the president of the Math Science Nucleus http://www.msnucleus.org. My Blueford made a brief demonstration of the software used to teach children using computers in math and science. Dr. Joyce talked about how it is difficult to use computers in Eritrea's due to the fact that Eritrea uses 220 volts system. While in The US we use 110 V. The electrical system in Eritrea could be unstable/the weather in a certain area can be unfriendly to the computers. Those are some of the difficulties they encounter unless an effort is put into finding a solution.  Dr. Blueford talked about the expertise needed on how to use and network the computers those are available in Eritrea. She mentioned that the Danish is donating 5 million/year for five years for the infrastructure. But the training will come from Math Science Nucleus. Math Science Nucleus is nonprofit Organization which aims into exposing student at a young age to the unlimited resources of the technology. As Craig stated, Dr. Joyce made a career developing curricula in teaching math and science to young students. The science curricula is being used to introduce the teacher-training institute in Eritrea, to help improve math and science education's. The program depends generally on the volunteers. 

During the dinner the guests were entertained to the Eritrean music and fashion show as they ate their food. The event lasted till almost 10pm. Like Joyce said, Sun shines on their future. Also Joyce said we want this people to feel they are somebody important because they have the most important job in the world, training children. Technology is growing at a fast pace. Why would Eritrean children are left behind? Math and Science are the core of the education. Math Science Nucleus  is dedicating it time to improve the teachers and the young generation of Eritrea to better their life. Shouldn't we be thinking the same way? Guests include Eritrean from many states and companies, Youssef Tekie Team manager Microsoft, Ezra Ephrem, Technical Lead, Tetera Tech, in Sacramento. 

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