I was a tenured faculty member at Virginia Polytechnic Institute (VT) and made arrangements to issue Continuing Education Units (CEU's) for the 4 day microcomputer instrumentation workshop. The process of getting approval to do this work and carry the computer required the approval of many agencies and groups. President George W. Bush and the USA State Department were some of the groups helping with these efforts. We did make this work and my wife and I in October 1991 made our way to Lviv, Ukraine via Moscow and a 24 hour train ride with our computer and all the teaching material. It is believed this was the first time an American University awarded CEU's in the Soviet Union.
Our adventure Donating Computers to Soviet Citizens
Why am I writing and sharing this information ?
- I would like to show that it is possible for average folks like me to have some really great experiences. Be careful what you ask for you may get more then you wanted.
- You can work at the highest levels if you have a good message - these adventures were helped along by President George W. Bush, USA State Department, Soviet President Gorbachev, many members of congress, various ambassadors and many other folks. I have saved all these correspondences - What a ride looking back over these - 100's of letters and papers. Once I made a couple of Soviet visits, officials at VT were on board with this and even gave me some special funds to carry on this work.
- I encourage you to get out of the box and try some new adventures - I do not suggest however taking unwise risks to you own safety. Show your skeptics you are not a pipe dreamer but a real doer. They will of course be envious when you do succeed.
- They say you can't live in the past - That is true but it sure is nice to look back on fun and successful events from your past and wonder --- How did I do that ? it was just great!
- Actually I did have opposition at my university (VT) by some folks who did not like my time away and the fact I was not just grinding away in my office. I did not have resistance from officials at VT that had power to stop this work - it was good I had tenure - The Virginia Tech President at the time Dr. Jim McCommas was a great fan of this work and helped with funding and in many other ways. Dr. McCommas sent Virginia Tech Documentary film producer "Jerry Scheeler" on one of our trips. Here is his film "Click" . Most of the opposition came from faculty members who were envious, jealous and just too lazy to get out of the box.
- I did this long term project because it was interesting, useful for me, the University and our whole country. I was rewarded for this work near the end of my 31 years of teaching at VT with a University Presidential Award (1995) University Public Service Excellence Awards. This was the first time this outreach award had been presented by VT.
- A great bonus- My wife and I received amateur radio licenses in Russia, Ukraine, Lithuania, and Poland . It was great fun and my wife Gaynell was the first American woman to receive an amateur radio license in some of these countries. Of course operating from there was fun - my Ukrainian call is UR5WUS and Russian call is UA4LWW.
For the rest of the story ......