William Kamkwamba, a 14-year-old boy from Malawi with limited formal education and no money, had a plan. His family and neighbors thought he was crazy: his plan would never work. But he proved them wrong, gaining national attention and becoming a local hero in the process.
Kamkwamba, author of a New York Times bestseller recounting the experience, addresses an audience at Pellissippi State Community College Sept. 1.
Using his intellect and ingenuity, Kamkwamba erected a windmill that provided the only source of electricity to Masitala, his impoverished Southeast African village. In so doing, he changed the life of the community, and of himself, forever.
Kamkwamba related his story in “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope.” He co-wrote the book with journalist Bryan Mealer.
“The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” is the Common Book choice for the Pellissippi State’s 2011-2012 Common Academic Experience. The Common Academic Experience brings guest speakers and activities relevant to the Common Book’s theme to campus, with the primary mission of engaging students. The Common Book is required reading for all Pellissippi State freshmen.
Kamkwamba speaks at 10:50 a.m. at the President’s Convocation, which takes place in the Clayton Performing Arts Center on the Pellissippi Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road. The presentation is free and the community is invited.
“We’re excited to have William Kamkwamba on campus and hope his story encourages our students to pursue an education that fulfills and inspires,” said Anthony Wise, president of Pellissippi State.
Kamkwamba’s story is itself fulfilling and inspirational. He learned about windmills from a textbook he checked out of the library. The textbook was written in English—a language he didn’t speak—but through perseverance he taught himself the engineering principles necessary to create electricity. To build a windmill, he had to rely on parts he found in a local junkyard, including a broken bicycle, a tractor fan blade and a shock absorber.
The book spent five weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, was chosen as one of the year’s best by Publisher’s Weekly and the Christian Science Monitor, and was named by Amazon.com one of its top 10 books of 2009.
Kamkwamba is now a student at Dartmouth College. Since building his first windmill, he has ventured into subsequent projects, among them a deep-water well with a solar-powered pump for clean water and a drip irrigation system.
For more information about this event, contact the Pellissippi State English Department at (865) 694-6708. To learn more about Kamkwamba, visit his blog at www.williamkamkwamba.com. Arrangements for the appearance of William Kamkwamba are made through HarperCollins Speakers Bureau, NY, NY.
To request accommodations for a disability, contact Ann Satkowiak at (865) 539-7153 or firstname.lastname@example.org.