When James and I first started our proposal to deploy laptops in the developing world, we knew that there would be problems that we did not plan for. When we switched our deployment site just days before arriving in Dakar we didn't know what to think. Now with some concerted effort and a good bit of luck we are well on our way to accomplishing our goals for the summer.
Devon Connolly, our new Peace Corps contact and local leader of the project has turned out to be fantastic. Many other Peace Corps Volunteers(PCVs) comment on his outstanding knowledge of Wolof and the culture at our site in Mboro. Also, the Peace Corps administration got our computers through customs on Monday. We hadn't expected them until Friday. We brought a few boxes of computers along with us from Dakar and the rest followed in another Peace Corps vehicle on Tuesday. Our European power adapters, which were shipped to Nouakchott, the capital of Mauritania, arrived today after the Peace Corps Mauritania passed them along to the Senegalese driver at the border.
On Tuesday the director of the school had cable run from the office to the two independent buildings. Each building has three classrooms and we will run cable between each room for our routers. After we complete the installation all the computers will wirelessly connect to the school server. Also, we unpacked the computers and reflashed them (installed new programs and the new version of the operating system).
Yesterday we had a meeting with the teachers and explained the program to them. They are excited and realistic about the program. They asked good questions and while Devon acted as a translator
through most of it, our presence
We will finish our installation soon and then begin on teacher training. Yesterday at our meeting in Thies with the regional director of schools, the training of teachers was heavily emphasized. The conversation also leaned towards the benefits of information technology or ICT as it is called here. It will be interesting to see the benefits of the XO laptop going forward as we believe in the learning idealogy of the One Laptop Per Child Association, however we cannot neglect the obvious benefits of exposing children to computers that have never used one at length before.