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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Culmination of My Life...Over the Past Ten Months

Today is the day the ambassador is coming to visit. I'm dressed up really nice. I arrive at school about 10 minutes before 2pm, and most of the teachers and a solid percentage of the students are already there.

I think everyone realizes that today is an important day. I review Lesson 8 with Professora Arlete; she has a few questions that she wants to cover before class starts.

And then class begins.

Today is the polar opposite of yesterday. The teachers are working together beautiful...their teamwork is like magic. The kids are angels. I swear they're all sitting up extra straight today, nearly silent. When they speak, it is to ask a question. We conduct class like this for an hour, until the ambassador shows up.

The ambassador is a wonderful man who I know believes strongly in the power of technology. He likes the computers, he thinks they're cute, he's watching the class and he knows that the kids are enjoying class, too. We only have about 50 students today (out of 80 total or so), and I explain to him that because it's vacation, attendance is a little bit more lax. The students aren't part of the São João School anymore so the students that are here are here purely because they want to learn, and for no other reason.

He seems impressed by this, and things are looking up for us. I'm feeling good about our program, about the ability of the Ministry of Education and the Embassy of Taiwan to work together to achieve something really beautiful with this computer program. The Embassy is considering purchasing 500 computers, but not giving them all to the São João School, but rather 100 computers to five different schools. I explained that it would be necessary to purchase internet, train teachers, and do lots of organizations five more times in order to successfully place 100 computers at five more schools. But it's not impossible.

There are pros and cons about this idea. Obviously our goal is to have enough computers for the São João School and not any other school so that the computers can be used in the classroom, the way they were intended.

At the same time, however, our class has been quite successful, even if it has been severely lacking in computers. Perhaps if we spread out computers among multiple schools, it would spread across the country and have an even greater influence on people merely through its geographic accessibility. I don't know if this is true, but it's a thought.

Though Ned summed it up perfectly- why not let the Ministry of Education decide where the computers go? The program is going through them anyway.

So here we are, Tuesday evening. We have interested prospective funders (praise the Lord!!! Hallelujiah!!!). We have some ballin' teachers that have a great handle on the class. We have a computer cabinet in the works, so that we actually have a place where we can put our computers and their parts. We have a bunch of freshly broken power strips (already), though Professor Miguel tells me he knew that the outlets Faia and Dany had me buy were not strong enough, and is confident that he can purchase some durable outlets and fix them himself. We have the second half of our repairs class tomorrow, and a scheduled meeting on Thursday to plan the upcoming school year. I gave the teachers their certificates today, as well as their payment. I also gave Professor Miguel the certificates for the students.

But one thing we have more than anything is strength. I am confident that this year is going to go even more smoothly than the last. The teachers are confident, they know what they're doing and feel like "experts" to some degree. The only thing I have to do is keep myself coming back on an annual basis- perhaps looking into funding from Rotary or some other organization that can help pay my travel.

Boo-yah, world. Let São Tomé show you all how it should be done!

PS- By the way, the "putting Scotch tape over the jumpy trackpad" trick works like a charm!!!!!

1 comment:


Please click the button below to donate to STEP UP OLPC to support the São João school's computer program in São Tomé:

Donate $200 and you will be paying for a computer for at least FIVE very special children at São João (as estimated computer life is five years). Thanks so much!

Want your donation to be tax-deductible? Send a check to STeP UP with OLPC in the memo. Then mail it to:

Eric McClafferty
Kelley and Drye
3050 S St. NW, #400
Washington, DC 20007