When it came to Roman slaves, Emily Vezina’s Middle School class wanted to know all the details: Did a freed slave have a better life? Were slaves ever paid? What was the reason why a master might free a slave, anyway?
“Boy, you guys have good questions,” said Teresa Ramsby, who was visiting from the University of Massachusetts Amherst last week. “These are tougher than my college students.”
Ms. Ramsby, an associate professor in University’s Classics Department, spent a period with Latin I class, talking about manumission in the Roman world.
Shabana Basij-Rasikh, an Afghan female education activist, believes the best future for Afghans lies with educating the younger generations, both boys and girls.
Ms. Basij-Rasikh will be the keynote speaker at the Williston Northampton School’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day assembly on Monday, January 20.
In a 2012 TED talk Ms. Basij-Rasikh recalled the morning she was told she could openly attend school as a girl. Under Taliban rule she was forced to attend school in secret, putting her family in great danger. For five years she would dress in boy’s clothes and escort her older sister to a secret school where more than 100 students were packed into a living room.
“I was very lucky to grow up in a family where education was prized and daughters were treasured,” she said. “To [my father] there was a greater risk in not educating his children.”
Ms. Basij-Rasikh graduated magna cum laude from Middlebury College and was the first woman to attend college in her family. When she returned to Afghanistan she co-founded the School of Leadership Afghanistan, SOLA, a boarding school for girls in Afghanistan.
“To me, Afghanistan is a country of hope and boundless possibilities,” said Ms. Basij- Rasikh, “and every single day the girls of SOLA remind me of that. Like me, they are dreaming big.”
Mr. Kamkwamba is a native of Malawi, a small African country bordered by Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, where electricity and running water are a luxury enjoyed by only two percent of the population. Mr. Kamkwamba’s family members make their living as farmers in a rural part of the country. As chronicled in The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, in 2001, a record drought led Mr. Kamkwamba to drop out of school and, using textbooks as his guide, build an electricity-generating windmill out of scrap metal.
“No union founded on the principles of liberty and equality could survive half slave, and half free. We made ourselves anew, and vowed to move forward together,” said President Obama in his second inaugural address on Monday, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
On the same day, Smith College Professor of Afro-American studies, Daphne Lamothe P’15, ’16 spoke to the Williston community about a lesson she has learned over time, “a fundamental challenge in life is the construction of a meaningful identity.”
Lamothe introduced her talk entitled, “There are Mountains Beyond Mountains So Put on Your Travelling Shoes,” as a journey through identities she has studied, personal memories of her family’s immigration experience, her academic research on the Harlem Renaissance, and the lyrics of a Montreal-based indie rock band.
Rosedale, Queens, New York
The daughter of Haitian immigrants, Lamothe grew up surrounded by Haitian food, culture, and religion. When family members and friends from her parent’s village immigrated they all bought houses in such proximity they recreated the community they had left.