New Hampshire National Guard Command Sgt. Maj. John Nanof hands a soccer ball to a student at the Dr. Jose Mendieta School in San Jose Villanueva, La Libertad, El Salvador on Jan. 27 as Maj. Gen. William Reddel and Maj. Gen Mark Sears look on. The three were members of a group of senior leaders visiting El Salvador as part of the NHNG State Partnership Program with El Salvador. The visit also included the donation of 36 computers to the school and a women's shelter. Photo by 1st Sgt. Mike Daigle, Deputy State PAO.
Thirty-six computers donated by UNH’s chemistry department were delivered recently to a grammar school and women’s shelter in El Salvador by the N.H. National Guard as part of its long-standing partnership with the Central American country of nearly 7 million people.
The retrofitted computers were given to the Dr. Salvador Mendieta School in San Jose Villanueva, La Libertad and the Ciudad Mujer Project in San Salvador by a group of senior leaders from the N.H. Guard that included the adjutant general, Maj. Gen. William Reddel.
Loathe to send the computers to landfills, UNH laboratory supervisor Amy Lindsay nonetheless knew that their age – the massive CPU monitors are a decade old, and the computers themselves are at least six years old – would make finding them a new home challenge.
“Everyone I talked to locally said they were too old to go to local schools,” said Lindsay. “They’re a good computer, though, and appropriate for this setting in El Salvador.”
A student, Jordan Reddel ‘11, suggested that her father, Major General William Reddel of the New Hampshire National Guard (NHNG), could facilitate a new life for old computers through the NHNG’s partnership with El Salvador and the teacher exchange it sponsors between the San José Villanueva school and Bow (N.H.) middle and high schools.
“We couldn’t get involved in sending two computers here and three there. When this opportunity came up, we thought, ‘this is great. This is a dream come true,’” said Lindsay.
Reddel said, “For many of our guardsmen, teachers, students, and civic leaders, the experience of participating in the partnership has been life-changing. They are learning about a different culture. They are learning different ways to see and do things, and they are realizing how much in common we share.”
Founded 12 years ago in a friendly, professional exchange of military expertise between the N.H. Guard and the Salvadoran Armed Forces, the partnership has flourished to include civic, educational and business opportunities. It is one of 65 state-nation partnerships under the National Guard’s State Partnership Program, which began 20 years ago as a way to engage former Warsaw Pact countries.
As part of the weekend visit to El Salvador, the N.H. Air Guard's 157th Air Refueling Wing participated in the Ilopango Air Show with one the state's premiere military aircraft, the KC-135 Refueler.
“We look forward to growing our partnership over the next decade, and finding new ways to foster deeper connections that eventually become self-sustaining,” Reddel said. “In military-speak, we call it ‘nation-building,’ which is just another way of saying we all live in the same world and we never know when we are going to need their help, or when they are going need our help.”