To SEI’s International Alumni, Future Students, and Friends,
The recent actions taken and announcements made by the new U.S. administration concerning travel bans, building border walls, and targeting refugees have been deeply upsetting to us because these actions directly impact our relationship with you. As the status of these policies are quickly evolving, we rightly understand that some of you may be anxious or unable to travel to the U.S.
Since our founding in 1991, Solar Energy International (SEI) has trained people from almost every country on earth in renewable energy. Renewable energy transcends politics and political parties. “International” is in our name for a reason—because our mission is to provide industry-leading training and expertise in renewable energy to empower people, communities and businesses worldwide. And our 50,000+ alumni are having a global impact.
Renewable energy does not have borders and we want you to have access to this knowledge to empower your lives and develop your villages, cities, and countries.
You come to us for a new career, like Mauricio G., from Colombia, Yassin from Turkey, Sherif M. from Egypt, Maheboob M. from India, and Pamela C. from Chile.
You come to us to power your community or country, like Abdra T., who is returning to Nigeria and is committed to increasing renewable energy; and Jules K., who recently started a PV company in Cameroon with his first project to power a rural village. Or Moray H., who is already installing solar systems in Sierra Leone and came to us to grow his skills; or Stephen A., who works with a utility in Ghana that wants to add solar to their grid.
You come to us to expand your business, like Carlos A. from Tijuana, Mexico who owns a construction company that wants to add solar, or Ramzy M. from Honduras who now has a thriving PV company.
You come to us to help combat global climate change, like Jean-Pierre from Haiti, who has personally experienced the impacts of global warming.
Or you may come to us because you’re dreaming of a new life for yourself and your family, like Hassan G. from Sudan, or Hassan H., a Syrian refuge. Under the current policy, both men would be excluded from entering the U.S. solely based on their country of origin. And while we were able to offer them full scholarships to our online courses, they no longer have the opportunity to travel to the U.S. to take part in our world-class, hands-on training.
It’s worth telling Hassan H’s story. We were contacted by an SEI alum who is working as a Renewable Energy Technician for Medecins Sans Frontieres MSF (Doctors Without Borders). Our alum introduced us to Hassan, who was serving as their translator at the mobile clinics serving Syrian refugees who were struggling emotionally and physically due to the atrocities that they had experienced.
Hassan speaks four different languages and given his work, demonstrates an empathetic nature well-suited to humanitarian work. He is also very environmentally conscious and has a good grasp of electricity from his time as a student at the University in Damascus. Hassan was interested in the off-grid, solar-powered systems for the camp in which he resides, thus we gave him a full scholarship for two photovoltaic (PV) classes, our PV101 (foundational knowledge) and PV203 (battery-based systems). We received the following note from Hassan:
“I want to thank you very much for the scholarships for the online courses. I want to tell a good piece of news; I passed the exam of the training course of photovoltaic and I got 90% grade. This training course really was the best knowledge that I have ever studied. I promise you I will always go on and try to protect the environment and encourage using the clean energy resources. THANK YOU VERY MUCH, MY TEACHER. THANK YOU VERY MUCH, MY FRIEND.”
Our resolve and our mission to serve you, our international alumni and future students, is stronger than ever before! We pledge to you the following:
We are expanding our international offerings and will bring the training to you.
In 2017, we will offer trainings in the United Arab Emirates (19-23 February 2017), Peru, Costa Rica, Guam, and Nigeria, with several other countries in the planning stages. We will be offering trainings at conferences in the Middle East (Solar Middle East, 12-16 February), Latin America, and hopefully Africa.
To people from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia, to refugees and displaced persons, and to people from the developing world who see renewable energy as hope for the future, we are dedicating our Walt Ratterman Scholarship Fund to you to take our online and/or hands-on courses. We are actively reaching out to international NGOs and our large network of alumni and friends to ensure that we are reaching the people most in need.
To our friends in need of this scholarship, we encourage you to apply! If you know of someone in need, please send this link to them.
Because of President Trump’s recent actions, we’ve already collected $32,350 for the Walt Ratterman Scholarship Fund from SEI staff, instructors, and friends. Walt was an inspiration to so many of us. He travelled to some of the most war-torn and remote places in the world bringing humanitarian aid, training people and installing renewable energy systems. He died in the 2010 Haiti earthquake.
Our goal is to double Walt’s scholarship fund so that we can impact the lives of more than 150 people. To our alumni and friends who are able to give, please consider donating to Walt’s Scholarship fund.
To our international students traveling to Colorado for hands-on trainings: we promise that you will feel like family when you’re here. We will take care of you, just as we do with all of our students. We promise to do our best to make the process of coming to Colorado as smooth as possible, from getting visas, to arranging transportation to the campus, and finding lodging. Regardless of where you come from or what you believe, you are all welcome in our special community of Paonia, Colorado.
You are welcome at Solar Energy International (SEI).
SEI Staff and Instructors
Kathryn Swartz, Executive Director
Johnny Weiss, Co-Founder, retired
David Del Vecchio
Kathy Fontaine, retired
Philip H. Friedman
And so many others in the SEI family.