John S. Rosenberg
As China grows and modernizes, Harvard students, faculty, and alumni are engaged in every facet of this enormous social transformation: advising on clean energy and environmental protection, training mental-health providers, and digitizing historical records for contemporary scholars (from a 2008 report), and—in Design School classrooms and in northwest Beijing’s foothills—planning for greener development (a 2010 dispatch). Until an alumnus attuned to the global University provided the means for international reporting, we simply could not cover these critical ties that are so important to the University community—and the world—of today and tomorrow. Now, thanks to his support, we can report on Harvard people wherever they may be, almost as a matter of routine.
Years ago, having just watched a video of what it was like to enter a Mayan temple through the mouth of an Earth monster, I imagined and wrote about what that experience must have been like from the perspective of the cameraman. But it was only through the generosity of an alumnus that I was first able to travel to the places about which I write. From explorations of the Dominican Republic’s cloud forest with an esteemed entomologist studying biodiversity, to the documentation of climatologists training the next generation of researchers in the Amazon rainforest, the point has been driven home for me: there is no substitute for being there. Such coverage was made possible only through travel funds provided by a generous donation.
Through the generous support of a donor who wishes to remain anonymous, I have traveled to Chile, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and South Africa to report for the magazine. Without this donor’s support, we would not have been able to introduce readers to former Santiago slum dwellers who became homeowners through a program with connections to the Graduate School of Design. We could not have taken readers inside Santiago elementary schools where Graduate School of Education scholars designed a program to improve education by taking into account health and cultural factors. We would not have followed Harvard undergraduates across Africa as they implemented service-oriented projects to improve lives, and we would not have taken readers to the front lines of the HIV epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa, exploring the cultural factors that complicate treating and preventing HIV. I personally am immensely grateful to have had the opportunity to report from these locations, to observe firsthand, on location, the people and programs I was covering. The resulting stories are unquestionably richer as a result.