Over the course of January, Faculty Without Borders has been hosting a book drive to send high school- and college-level books to schools in Kenya.

“The book drive was started after going to Africa, after Kenya and seeing the needs specifically in the high schools,” Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering Ashley Bernal, one of the group’s members, said. “There’s not very many books in their libraries, so with how many books we have around with the professors and the students, it seemed like a great idea to try to send some books over that way.”

Four professors from Faculty Without Borders, including Dr. Bernal , Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering Richard Onyancha, Associate Professor Geography Michael Kukral, and Chair of Physics and Optical Engineering Charles Joenathan, took a trip to Africa this past July. They visited Eagerton University near Nakura, Kenya and several high schools nearby, where they observed their educational conditions and determined how the group and Rose-Hulman could help the area. Although they have several ideas in the works, they decided that a book drive would be a great start.

“We’re going to send (the books) to Eagerton University, and then they have some partner high schools that are very nearby that they can take some of the books over to,” Dr. Bernal said.

The first idea to create a group like Faculty Without Borders, which started at the beginning to last year and is still in its beginning stages, according to Dr. Bernal, originally came from Dr. Joenathan.

“About two years ago, I wanted to start a group because I heard a lot about the Engineers Without Borders,” Dr. Joenathan said. “I thought maybe, why not start an organization like Faculty Without Borders?”

He was also inspired by Teachers Without Borders, an organization of high school teachers dedicated to enhancing the quality of education around the world.

About six faculty showed up to the first meeting, and it was from this original core group of members that the idea to visit Africa. Faculty Without Borders is not an official organization within Rose-Hulman yet, but Dr. Joenathan plans to change that as soon as next quarter with the selection of positions like president and vice president and an addition of a Web site. Meanwhile, the group encourages students to donate materials suitable for high school- and college-level students to the book drive. Dr. Joenathan estimated that Rose and the Terre Haute area have donated roughly 900 books already.

The group has not announced an end date to the drive, but they would like to send out all of the books this month. Students can drop off books in Dr. Bernal’s office, B-108c, or in Dr. Joenathan’s office, CL-105.

Check out future issues of the Thorn to read more about Faculty Without Border’s future plans to improve education in Africa.

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