The graduation was a big event. Schoolteachers, Tumaini University students and some teachers, family and community member were present. The children move the desks from the schools to allow adults to sit, and they were at one side of the area sitting on the floor, however all assistants were under the shade of the same tree.
To start the event, the school children performed some songs. Small video clips of it below.
There were several speeches specially stressing the importance to have computers and access to them, the importance of education and the relevance to learn the English language. It also was stressed the responsibility of our children (who were selected by the head-teacher for the workshop) to transmit their new knowledge to the community.
When it was my turn to speak, I confess, drops came out of my eyes. The main message I wanted to transmit is: we should understand that the most important thing in life is what we feel and what we think, as the unique richness is inside ourselves and not outside. Computers are tools that will help us for different activities, but our inner is the most important thing that we have. Honestly, for be my first time in Africa, Ukombozi children gave me A LOT, much more than I could give them back.
To give does not require to say words, or to give (expensive or no expensive) presents. To give is when one connects to another one and a magical exchange takes place.
One thing I am complete sure about our planet: it does not matter the physical location, color of skin, language, culture or whatever, anything of those things need a “specific” configuration in order to be able to connect with other humans. Inner harmony with oneself and what surround us is what actually matters. Things that are not thought at school, sadly.
Each day working with the Ukombozi pupils, the experience connected as when I was a missionary at the Sierra del Zamorano in Mexico (in several winters), or when I was working every Saturday for so many years at the marginal areas of Mexico city, or in that intensive trip to India. People is so rich of life. Even as illogical as it might sound, due that the comparison is not so straight forwards, but some of the activities relate to my experiences working with the seniors in Joensuu and the people in Lieksa keep stressing this.
When a human being is, and it does not pretend to be someone else based on what s/he has or how s/he self-protect, then life just expresses. One can connect with different individuals and when one just is.
I am thankful for all these experiences.
Everybody elegant dressed and concentrated to hear and try to understand what the selected children of the workshop did in this period. The workshop participants explain this by themselves first to family and visitors and later with other students. Life is made by details and this one was a milestone on the way.
(Photo: workshop participants getting ready to received and explain their work to parents and visitors )
(Photo: workshop participants presenting to other schoolmates)
(Photo: A group photo of all of us. Well, we are missing two persons actually,one student and one tutor)
The workshop has been VERY intensive. My nights-sleep average during the workshop period was four hrs a day approximately. I was the last one to go to bed and usually I got up before the sunrise. This gave me the opportunity to realize the night rhythm in Iringa: first relative quietness (I say relative because in warm environment it is a lot of life, e.g. it easy to hear always crickets, frogs or any other life form which I have no idea they exist). Later at night several dogs bark constantly, no idea about the reason of that barking, either a wild animal comes by and then they give alarm among themselves or just pure conversation. Anyway, the final result is: you hear A LOT of dogs barking. After the dogs, the Iringa’s hens start to make the “kikirike” song (very early ones, around 3 am they start). It follows the mosque prays to finalize with the Christian or Catholic church bells at 7am.
After the night routine, we should be ready for a work day. During the workshop, daily (except Sundays) we had some contact session with the children from two to more than four hrs depending the day. The rest of the day is for review material and prepare material + computers for next day. Prepare is literal, we charge them of electricity. We were VERY lucky that electricity at our location was always present for recharge the machines. Before the workshop there were several black out.
We needed to charge the computer to be sure next day we could work with them, the school had pre-paid electricity and there are not sockets for all the computer to be connected. Then, if we want to depend on charging them on-site each session was not a reliable solution.
(Photo: Here charging of electricity the XO at my room. We divide the machines between Marcus and I. Usually I charged between 10 to 12 computers. I had the possibility to connect 3 at the same time, and repeat the procedure four times)
Also there were other reason why the workshop was demanding for everybody, including us researchers:
i) The school pupils have thirst of knowledge and they are so dedicated and intelligent that we should higher our standards in each session. Today I know, good students demand more from their teachers
ii) The machines that our children have (XO’s ) present different and diverse scope of challenges.
iii) Real time situation. The idea of the workshop (and all the projects I am running) presents the challenge of quality of time and understanding in the all what is involved in the environment. If I want to work together with others, then I must listen more than the average and try to understand. This is energy taking.
iv) I am fighting for my funding (actively).
v) Have this responsibility sense that I want to support Latinamerica and for me Africa is a new world. As anyone who goes to a new world, it takes energy.
But I must admit that I land soft, Marcus loves Tanzania and he has something of Tanzanian inside him, then I was in very good hands. He took care of all the details of my time in here (e.g. housing, transport, communication), and he has done awesome preparations for the workshop. Then, it was my responsibility (and my right), to give my best back to all the great people that surround me in here. In addition, each time I saw the shinning eyes of the children, there is not other excuse just DO YOUR BEST.
Then in brief, the game workshop was an iteration of clear steps: individuals must think and express themselves. Each new iteration we looked for a higher challenge for them to think about. The cycle consisted of:
a) Give them a question /challenge
b) Think individually how they will solve this challenge and write it down (use their XO for this)
(Photo: Children ready to type their own reflection. They were always VERY attentive. )
c) Discuss in groups about the answers
(Photo: Final individual reflection to be discuss in a team)
(Photo: working in pairs)
d) Then a performance (drama) on how this challenge should be solved (each time the groups were differently formed). The children were at charge of everything: script, media, actors, recording, etc.
(Photo: Recording one drama scene – several camera men and women 🙂 )
e) Reflect in the final results and evaluate if we were ready for the next challenge was the next step. Then the cycle was over and ready for the next one. In the way other activites were present, support, drawing and even playing 🙂
(Photo: Some technical support, or personalize teaching-learning activity)
(Photo: Some drawings)
(Photo: Some playing)
(Photo: No ALL is digital. I brought them a “children’s map” from German. It was very useful to explain where Marcus and I are originally. We also find Finland and Tanzania, but it was a very nice tool to see the world together.)
(Photo: Bring the server to the session. Unfortunately due to security issues – the school has not a “strong or secure” room for their equipment – therefore they need to find other channels to keep their tools secure. )
Also there were different activities to make each cycle different, for example once we have a whole contest to see the knowledge of kids (solving different math and natural science questions) or making a research about what kind of games the like to play, etc.
We also make a paper prototype of each child to hear how they want her/his webpage to look like (this part of the work is very interesting, because it breaks with diverse assumptions that HCI profess ). Photos will be published later.
The children not only reflect in their writing about the relevant subjects such as their futures, health, etc. They made their own drawings, record their own dramas, decide how they want the things to be present, they create the whole content of the application. This support another level of understanding for what it is possible to use the ICT tools, and furthermore a sense of “digital-ownership”.
For the functionality of the “game” Mikko Vinni helped us in the distance with the proper functionality in PHP. As Ilka in his visit here help to set up the local server here too. Yes, a lot of quality people and hands were involve in this workshop. However, still the game needs a some days to polish it properly.
The game in its actual status has been tested with other children who were not in the workshop and with parents. All of the testers mentioned that they learned from it. In a way I am not surprised about that, because is the bottom line or the purpose of the whole workshop, and actually from my whole research: We learn A LOT from others if we only are willing to listen. But it is great that actually that phenomena is not exclusively of any location or person 🙂 and comments such as: “I am surprise that it can be also things in Swahili in internet”, really melted my heart.
Then is mainly the workshop in VERY brief. More things will be posting (as from other activities). However I want to express my gratitude to the children, to the tutors of Tumaini (Innocence, Timothy and Miraji), to the teachers of the school, to Marcus, to Mikko, to Ilkka and the whole community too, which were so supportive in the activity.
Btw, for those who advice me to ready for unexpected events I can assure I was not expecting that we will have almost 100% assistance for the duration of the workshop (two weeks and 17 children were enrolled). The children came even in Saturdays and some days work over time. We only have 3 absences each one in three different days. I am very impress and thankful with all of them.
The reason for me to be in a, Tanzania, Africa is to run this workshop. Within my research this is the way to validate my model, but this will be material for other post. Right now let’s focus on “Working for your Dreams”.
Until now I am able to write about this. Before my trip, in Finland, was VERY . I was working hard until Nov 5. In that day we had an intensive and very productive meeting in Helsinki, which we will update later too, but that night I depart to South. Since I reached Iringa, my night sleep had been reduce dramatically (average 4 hrs), as days are HECTIC.
And today I have time to update this blog and I want to share my African journey in few sentences. This post will focus in the idea, trip and background.
In July 2009, in Joensuu, Finland. I was talking with a Marcus Duveskog about why are we always “lecturing” about the subject of HIV/AIDS instead to make something more active and engaging for the students? more meaningful. Instead we could focus in constructive things as their dreams, and how we can support/help individuals to go forward instead to focus in the problems. We agree on this and together, and we like the idea and we start to conceptualize a workshop with this purpose.
First sketch of our workshop idea
It took me several days to reach Iringa. The route trip was:
Thursday Nov. 5th: Joensuu – Helsinki – München. Friday Nov.6th München –Dubai, Saturday Nov. 7th Dubai – Dar es Salaam, Sunday Nov 8th. Dar es Salam – Iringa.
Emirate Airlines – my favorite airline (confirmed after used it in 2003): good service, environmental aware (recycle plates, silverware, etc.), state of the art entertainment system (for me the game section is just GREAT!!! Individual and multiplayer with other flight members).
Dubai Airport – where west meat east. Dubai airport is the most multicultural place I have met in my life. People gather together in one place being themselves. Hindu, African, Middle East outfits are present as much as western ones. You can see all colors, religions, backgrounds, shapes, is the planet in one airport. —— Tip if you are stock in this airport, as I was, forget about sleeping, they charge 60 US per hour in the hotels there. BUT you can get access to the SPA with a private shower for 17 US, worth it!
Tanzania, my first reaction is EXTREMELY friendly people, I had a GREAT host in Dar es Sala.
The trip to Iringa is long but I was lucky enough to see one elephant, some giraffes, zebras, antelopes, monkeys, AMAZING!!! (no photos, we were driving fast). In addition to some country side, villages, outfits, colors…. I was tired, but I couldn’t close my eyes a bit.
Tetris game in my sit, with multiplayer options 🙂
On Sunday I had on my hands for first time an OLPC. If you had tried to download the simulator and succeed, it will be good to hear about it. I didn’t succeed myself then to have this little thing in my hands was IMPORTANT.
A paper about our experiences with this XO (name of the computer of OLPC) will come out, because in brief: there is much to say about it.
From the workshop perspective, Marcus had set up everything perfectly. He had done all the in-site pre-arrangements, and even find me a place to live 😉 . He seems as a fish in the tank.
Once we were together we start to get the information that we needed from Tutors and kids. Having a focus interview with the tutors on Monday and an individual interviews with the 17 children on Tuesday.
Wednesday the workshop started, but we had a no-show. The children were sent home. (something to do with the national examinations). Nevertheless was a good opportunity to talk with the teacher and explain how important the workshop is.
Instead we join our supervisor and all the team from North-South project (they were running an even in here, which was making Marcu’s life a bit busier I must say). For me, it was a GREAT opportunity to talk with Seugnet Blignaut. She helped me and gave me valuable feedback about my research design and methodology. Quality of time I must say, and I start to see that my intensive period of thinking and writing this year, it seems will pay off.
This is the brief story of the idea, trip and background. Next post is a brief story of our workshop.
First contanct with OLPC
My first meeting with the tutors of our workshop. Outstanding Tumaini University students
First contact with our workshop participatns 🙂
This blog is protected by Dave's Spam Karma 2: 57612 Spams eaten and counting...