RSS Feed (xml)

Powered By

Skin Design:
Free Blogger Skins

Powered by Blogger

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Things and Lesson 7

Called Roberta this morning to confirm our meeting at the Ministry of Education.

Good thing I did, because it was cancelled and she appropriately didn't tell me.

At STeP UP today I was a little annoyed with her. She thought it would lighten her image to compliment me on my shirt. When that didn't work, she worked a new meeting out with the Ministry- 9:30am on Friday. Then we'll go to the US Embassy shortly after.

The electrician came by today (he also stopped by the school to check out the wire hookup). He wants about 5,500,000, or about $280, to purchase a battery and install this thing. I don't know, is this a good idea? I suppose it would be nice if it worked. I'm getting a little worn of spending money- I already spent money getting the power strips fixed, and they're almost already back to the way they were before. They're just so fragile and they break very easily. When I'm so strapped for cash, every single dollar makes a huge difference.

On that note, we're hoping to build a cabinet where we can keep all the computers. I was going to buy a metal one but I'm thinking making a wooden one might be cheaper. We could put a lock on it. We could decide on the dimensions so that it could be a sort of bookshelf-type chest where you can slide the computers in on their side, so they're not sitting on top of each other. There could also be storage spaces below. I'm going to look into this tomorrow and maybe draft out a design, see how much it will end up costing. Money is so short, I just hope we can get the funding we need for this program to move forward.

Went over lesson 9 with the teachers today. It went really well- everyone successfully animated their creation. Good!

Class with the students was frustrating. The teachers took forever to actually get started, and then the power went out, and I had to do everything I could to keep from yelling, "You see??? If you start class so late, kids will use up the battery life on their computers, and they wont have any charge left in case the energy goes out. And that's what happened!"

Gilson came by today. He's one of our students from this past school year. He's older than some of the others. He hung around class, looking into the classrooms. He asked the other teachers if he could be a part of the class now, even though he hasn't come to any of the other summer classes. The other teachers told him he had to talk to me first. When he came up to me, his eyes were shifty. He had a visible wound on his face. "Can I come back to class?" he asked me.

"Why weren't you in class the past few days, Gilson?"

"I couldn't. I"

I basically said whatever. I told him if he comes to class from now on then yes, he can participate. He took a computer and quietly walked into a classroom. It's good to have him back.

So even though Lesson 7 didn't go well, the teachers actually understand everything surprisingly well. I know people in Haiti had issues with Lesson 7. I think it's because there are a couple of missing steps in the directions and they can get confusing for someone who is new at everything. The teachers and I sat down after class and went over a few things: One, they have got to look over these lessons before class. We talked about how the lessons seem easy when I'm around, and then hard when they're trying to teach it all themselves. I think that's why they're being so slow in teaching the students -- they're still insecure and uncomfortable. So the way to fix that is to get more secure by practicing the lessons themselves at home.

It seems like such a simple thing, but as much as I explain it to the teachers, it still seems like they're not understanding. But today when I sat them all down together they got it. Thank God.

I also passed them a copy of my funding proposal. It's time to get all of the teachers up to date about what's going on, not just Miguel (though he is certainly the leader of the group). I explained to them that if we ever get funding, it's going to depend on them to make sure everything runs smoothly-- that the money gets to the right place, that things develop correctly. I'm trying to get them to take responsibility for the program's development now -- or at least as much responsibility as possible.

Speaking of responsibility, tomorrow I'm bringing soap to school and we're having the students clean all of the computers with damp towels (thank God) to teach them all about the importance of caring for these computers. The teachers have scheduled our repair class for Friday afternoon, as we'll be done with Lesson 10 tomorrow so we'll have time Friday to get started learning to repair.

All in all, things are going well. They could go more smoothly, sure, but I'm grateful for the movement we are making. The teachers are trying so hard, the kids are loving class, and things are continuing in the long-term. And that's the most important thing!


  1. Is it worth asking for help from the childrens parents?

    Everyone of these children has parents and most of those have jobs and contacts. They know where to get stuff cheaper than you can, including batteries and power sockets and shelves.

    They all know that this is a great opportunity for their kids. Give them a chance to help.


  2. Joe,

    Thanks for the feedback. You are totally right about using local people to help. I don't know anything about prices so I have been relying on some São Tomean friends to buy things for me. But I took the battery upon myself, and I just talked to one of my friends now and it does sound like the electrician is asking for a lot (room for bargaining). I think I'm going to try to knock down the price tomorrow and see how far we get.

    Thanks again. Will keep you all posted on how it goes!



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