Sunday, June 14, 2009


Today we were scheduled to visit several schools throughout Rwanda and teach teachers how to use Scratch (an animation/math/programming application). The day did not go as planned; This is Africa (TiA) as we have learned to call it.

At 4:45am we awoke from our night at the Casino and headed down to the bus which was expected to arrive at 5:35 for our breakfast at the Hilltop Hotel. Our busses were expected to leave for our school sites at 6:30. 5:35 came and went… 5:45… 6:00… 6:15… 6:30… 6:40 the bus comes to take us to Hilltop and we are almost expecting our busses to have left by now. We sat down and ate while we waited for the busses to get ready to leave, they still weren’t ready to go to the sites. Our sheet said we would leave for the site at 6:30 and arrive at 8. We left at 6:50 and arrived at 7. WHAT???

Children begin bringing in desks to prepare our room and about 8am teachers start arriving. The morning was incredibly slow as the teachers had not touched an XO before (or even a computer) and Scratch is a very advanced program. We spent three full hours grinding away before we started to make any progress and broke for lunch at noon. We had two hours for lunch as everyone goes home and we walked to our contact’s house nearby to wait for the food which was late and was expected to arrive at noon. 12:15… 12:30… 12:45… 1:00… 1:15… 1:30… This entire time the company is telling us 5 more minutes every five minutes we call. Our OLPC contacts finally give up and go out and buy us lunch which arrives at 1:45. We eat and head back to school to see our food arriving at 2; TiA.

All of the teachers are arriving at this point and the food at the same time just creates confusion. The delivery company won’t leave until we drink all the sodas because they need to return the glass bottles so we give what’s left away to the teachers. At about 2:40 we can finally start on the second half of the day and the teachers ask to review other applications. We introduced Record (the camera program), Write, Paint and a few others and this part went really well. Teachers were trying new things and teaching each other as they learned.

Throughout the day as we saw kids I was snapping pictures of them and they LOVE to see their pictures. Justin, a kid from the University of Minnesota deploying in Senegal, took a picture of about 30 kids and knelt down to show them and he got swarmed. I have a picture of him in the center of a million heads. On Monday we will be working with 5th grade kids handing out laptops and it should make for a lot more good pictures.

-XO Mike

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