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Kamkwamba adapts to College life

Mar 07, 2011   |   by Christy O'keefe   |   The Dartmouth

Although William Kamkwamba ’14 has had many experiences that his fellow class members will not share — including growing up in an African village without electricity and coauthoring a bestselling book — Kamkwambe spent his first term at the College engaging in activities common to any Dartmouth student, including studying at Novack late into the night, walking into a fraternity basement for the first time and getting hit by a snowball during Saturday’s snowball fight.

Kamkwamba, a student from Masitala, Malawi, became famous for constructing a windmill that provided his native Malawian village with much-needed electricity. Kamkwamba later wrote an award-winning book, “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity & Hope,” about his experiences.

As a student at the College, however, Kamkwamba wants to be known as “just William” rather than “the boy who harnessed the wind,” Jacob Walker ’14, one of Kamkwamba’s roommates, said. Varun Ravishanker ’14, another one of Kamkwamba’s roommates, said that when Kamkwamba first arrived at the College, he never mentioned of his past achievements.

“At the first floor meeting we had to go around the circle and give an interesting fact about ourselves and [Kamkwamba] spent a minute saying there wasn’t anything interesting about him,” Ravishanker said.

While Kamkwamba adjusted to life as a Dartmouth student, he still continued to pursue the projects he began while in Malawi.

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