2018-01-13 / The Bullhorn

Bulldog alum named Campbell University’s ‘Success Story of Week’


RCS alum Daniel Taylor talks about internship in Africa. 
SUBMITTED RCS alum Daniel Taylor talks about internship in Africa. SUBMITTED (Partial reprint, with permission of Campbell University Communications)

Daniel Taylor, a 2016 graduate of Roxboro Community School, (RCS) spent last summer working in Africa, and was the Campbell University “Success Story of the Week” last week.

Discussing his internship, Taylor said, “I had the opportunity to work on several projects with diverse people from unique backgrounds.”

“I worked on projects [that included] using elephants to track people, measuring elephant height from a distance, and developing a solar powered lighting system.”

He continued, “For the tracking experiment, I was in charge of developing a method of recording and evaluating the tracks from the tracked person, the elephant, and distractors. . . . I took three high-tech GPS systems and used a program called Garmin Basecamp to record the tracks. This required lots of testing the GPS systems in the African bush to determine the ideal method of recording, downloading and analyzing the data.”

Taylor explained, “This also required the development of instructions for every step in the process such that any elephant handler, elephant trainer, or researcher could read and understand the process. Since many of these people do not have much of a formal education, some work was also done teaching them how to complete their part in the experiment. The elephant training is ongoing now and the process I developed is being put into use daily. The GPS systems are currently being used to evaluate the learning progress of the elephants and the impact of different conditions such as terrain, wind, and humidity and will also be used for assessing their final performance.”

The project that took most of Taylor’s time in Africa was “a service project providing solar-powered lighting to a poor community. I partnered,” he said, “with a Duke [University] student to teach the locals the basics of electricity and soldering, while also meeting the lighting need in a village composed of approximately 270 homes. We developed a curriculum to teach electricity primarily through using the analogy of water to electricity.”

Following this class, said Taylor, “the locals learned how to solder through a short lesson and hands-on practice. We taught a dozen young men and women from the community how to solder and they became the teachers for the rest of the village.”

He continued, “The people of Vingerkraal, a conglomeration of Namibian refugees who speak over seven different languages . . . were incredibly grateful to us for providing them light and new skills. We sought to help the people value the solar units by getting them involved with the creation of the unit.”

“Overall,” Taylor said, “my Duke friend, Conrad, and I enjoyed the chance to enlighten this community with knowledge about electricity and soldering and ultimately with solarpowered light.”

When asked how RCS prepared him for this project and for college, Taylor said, “RCS prepared me for my internship in South Africa by providing opportunities for me to lead, practice communication skills, and learn the value of hard work. In my internship,” he continued, “I led several projects and utilized the leadership and communication skills I practiced in high school. Clear and productive communication is difficult with people who speak the same language and live in the same culture, much less with people who do not speak or understand English well.”

Taylor concluded, “Tough courses, sports, and community involvement at RCS quickly taught me the value of hard work. I learned that being willing to work harder than everyone else led to excellence and, generally, a stand-out performance. This understanding is one of the main reasons I obtained the internship, and is certainly the reason I was able to complete the projects. Roxboro Community School and the stellar teachers there provided me with challenges that forced me to grow into an individual prepared to face, not only the new challenges of college, but also the challenges of working in South Africa.”

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