Pete Gheresus (PhD), Kettering University Industrial Engineering faculty, concluded his fifth visit to the Eritrean Institute of Technology (EIT) by volunteering his time and donating thousands of books to their growing library in December 2015.
For three weeks, Gheresus delivered lectures to students, faculty and administrators at EIT while also giving educational talks and demonstrations to pre-college students in several villages and public libraries.
“When I see individuals struggling back home, I think that I could’ve been one of them,” Gheresus said. “That’s what keeps me up at night.”
In 2002, Gheresus initiated a book drive to support EIT’s library. A significant number of the books at EIT’s library came from Kettering’s campus. The last shipment of 8,000 books in engineering, science, math, English, and braille were shipped in 2012 and received by EIT in 2014.
Kettering faculty, staff and students all donated books to the collection. The Michigan School for the Blind in Flint contributed braille books. Kettering’s Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Tau Delta and Sigma Chi organized book drives and helped load books that were stored on Kettering’s campus into shipping containers.
Before this shipment was received, books at EIT had to remain in the library at all times but the quantity and quality of these texts has expanded the library’s services.
“Today, EIT students are able to check out books for the first time from the library because of the book donations,” Gheresus said.
Gheresus was born and raised in Eritrea. He was publicly educated in the country’s free K-12 education system. The problem: the quality of school an individual attends is dependent on their scores on placement exams. Gheresus failed his ninth-grade placement exam which made him ineligible for post-secondary schooling. The harsh educational policies are due to a shortage of facilities and educators in the region. Even today, Eritrea lacks resources and has to import teachers from India and other African countries.
“In spite of the shortages, the faculty are committed to sharing their knowledge with their students,” Gheresus said. “The students at every grade level are highly motivated and eager to learn.”
Gheresus is collaborating with Eritrean educators to establish a system that extends educational opportunity to every child in the entire country. He’s shared Kettering’s educational model with his homeland and is in the process of helping them adopt and customize a similar system.