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Woodcraft Laptops Now Helping Ghana Students, Thanks To Local CollegesBack to Press Releases
Parkersburg, W.Va. July 2010 – Laptops no longer used by Woodcraft Supply are beginning a new “life” in a first of its kind computer lab that serves students in the West African nation of Ghana, thanks to two local colleges.

“We typically wipe and donate old computer equipment to Washington State Community College,” Woodcraft director of information technology Susan Huck explained. At the Washington State campus in Marietta, computers from Woodcraft and other sources become learning materials in Associate Professor Esther Salem’s Microcomputer Diagnostics and Upgrading I class. “Woodcraft Supply has been particularly generous in the last few years,” Salem said.

Salem accepts donations of computers and related equipment from any source, as long as she feels it has some potential use and/or provides a good learning experience for her students. “I am always looking for worthy community projects,” Salem said. A chance conversation with Dr. Ena Vulor, associate professor of French language and literature at Marietta College, opened the door for Salem’s class to help students in Ghana. Vulor mentioned a trip she and Marietta College students would be making in May 2010 to Ghana and the need for computers for a service project.

“Because she was travelling such a great distance, desktop computers were not a practical option,” Salem explained. “I knew we had several laptops that Woodcraft Supply had given us to work on—many needed repair or upgrading. We were able to create/produce four working laptops from the several we had been given.”

Vulor’s recent trip was actually a follow-up to one in 2008 during which a group of Marietta College students, faculty and IT staff set up a computer lab at Kpoeta Elementary School. They took 20 donated laptop computers to equip the lab. “Prior to this project, the students of this school in rural Ghana had never seen computers,” Vulor said. “The group from Marietta College also provided training for the teachers of the school, many of whom were not conversant with computers either. The computer lab became (and still is) the first of its kind in any rural school in Ghana.”

Vulor took another group of students (including five returnees) back to the Kpoeta computer lab this year to update training for teachers and students and to replace several of the laptops with newer ones donated by the Cincinnati Country Day School and the four refurbished by Washington State students.

“In addition to the tremendous impact on the rural school in terms of technological enrichment, the project provided a great learning/cultural experience for Marietta College students as well,” Vulor said. Salem was also happy to have her students involved, adding, “It is important for them to think of being members of the global community, as well as completing projects to benefit the folks here in the Mid-Ohio Valley.”

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