Editor’s note: William Kamkwamba is the co-author of The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, which is based on his life in Malawi. He visited the Williston Northampton School on December 5, 2013 as part of the annual Sara Wattles Perry ’77 speaker series. The following is an except from his question and answer session where he spoke about traveling to the United States and seeing snow for the first time.
What was it like the first time I saw snow? It was exciting because it was the first time, but at the same time it was also challenging because it was so cold. The funny thing, the funny part, was that before I came here… My first visit, I was told it would be cold. So I was like, “Okay, it will be cold.” In Malawi, it gets cold and I can wear a tee shirt and put a long sleeved shirt on top of my tee shirt. Then I’ll be okay. I’ll be fine. That’s what exactly I did when I was coming here. I put up my tee shirt and then put up my long sleeve on top of it and I was inside the airport. When I came off the plane, inside the airport it was so warm. I was like, “These people are just joking. It’s not cold at all!” I didn’t know it was heated during the day inside the house, inside the airport. Because in Malawi when it’s cold outside, it’s also cold inside. So I had that idea. I was like, “This is not cold at all.” It was like hot outside. And then I got outside… I was like, “How did you guys manage to be in this area!” That was challenging. So it was interesting.