November 28, 2014

Ghana Together

Ending a Great Year!


For those of you (most of the Americans on our list) who receive our annual update letter by snail mail, you can skip this (we just aren't smart enough to figure out how to slice and dice...)
 
We can truly say, “Missions Accomplished” this November, 2014!<o:p></o:p>

These strong young women are the future of Axim, and the future of Ghana!  And we are helping them to help themselves.  The collaborative relationship between us (including each of you!) and Ghana Together, and the local leaders in Axim and the youth of Axim, is producing results now that will ripple out to the broader community and beyond! 
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These high school girls spent the day clearing the land around their Axim All-Girls Senior High School. They are celebrating because, thanks to your contributions, this year we renovated a decrepit building on their campus into a dining, assembly, and study area.  The local PTA is providing tables and benches and interior clean-up. <o:p></o:p>
These kinds of partnerships between ourselves and our Ghanaian associates are what enable real progress. <o:p></o:p>

It was a good year! Thanks to your contributions and gifts, in addition to the high school building renovation, we:<o:p></o:p>
---renovated a Central Axim Junior High School building, providing two new large classrooms so students can attend all day rather than half days, and administrative space for teachers to meet and gather.  <o:p></o:p>

---created the One Laptop per Child laboratory next to the children’s room in the public library, with fifty OLPCs, electrical installation (works when power is on), and work tables and benches.  It drew thirty to forty children a day during vacation periods, and continues to serve many after school and on Saturdays---and about half are girls!  <o:p></o:p>
---shipped literally hundreds of high quality children’s books, providing stories and reading for local children who have never before had access to books. It takes a team. Friends in the US who acquire books… a friend in Maryland who works with his friend, a commercial shipper…friends in Ghana who go to the port at Tema, pick them up, and transport them to Nzema East area. We threw in some neat dinosaur puzzles and science posters, too! THANKS TO YOU ALL!!<o:p></o:p>

---acquired a motorized tricycle to carry books to schools too far from Axim Center for children to walk to the library<o:p></o:p>
---funded 72 scholarships.  These include young adults learning trades at the Community Development Vocational Institute, elementary school children at the Apewosika School serving Axim’s poorest population, and our Western Heritage Home youth whom we’ve been supporting since the beginning and who are themselves starting to make their marks in the world.  Charlotte and Philomena are top in their class, and they and Peter are now on full scholarships from the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation due to their academic achievements.<o:p></o:p>

We loved connecting local Axim leaders with the Pacific Northwest Chapter of Engineers Without Borders (Bellingham). They amazed the town by building a UDDT low-impact toilet at an Axim JHS. Headmistress Yawson reports it’s working “very, very well.” The students have some ideas for improving the design---EWB engineers…listen up!!! J<o:p></o:p>
Because we collaborate closely with our Ghanaian friends and partners and track carefully the emerging needs and goals, our plans develop as the area develops. We have counted on nearly bi-annual trips to Axim to nourish personal relationships and our understanding of where we can make the best use of our resources and talents. <o:p></o:p>

However, the devastating Ebola outbreak forced cancellation for our visit to Axim in September. Therefore our goals for 2015 are not as developed as we’d like them to be. But, now that the Ebola situation in Ghana is better understood, Maryanne Ward intends to visit Ghana in early 2015 to review projects and nail down plans with local leaders there. <o:p></o:p>
So, in spite of some uncertainty, we do ask for your support in 2015. We know for sure we’d like to: <o:p></o:p>

---Continue to support students with scholarships<o:p></o:p>
---Expand and improve living space in the Western Heritage Home, which is now a dormitory for girls from surrounding regions attending Axim Girls High School.  They now have a place to live. As more girls arrive, we want to provide the additional beds, tables, and benches to give them the best possible learning environment. <o:p></o:p>

---Ship more high quality children’s books (contact us if you have some books or want to discuss).<o:p></o:p>
---Work with “Unleash Kids” to provide the Axim All-Girls High School with Internet-In-A-Box (IIAB). The school has a new computer lab stocked with notebook computers provided by the Ghana Education Service, but it does not have internet access. IIAB will give the girls access to research materials such as Wikipedia (in English, French, Arabic, and Swahili), Khan Academy Math and Science videos, world maps, medical encyclopedia, and other excellent resources.<o:p></o:p>

And this year, sadly, we lost Tom Castor, one of our founding board directors. Tom, a retired businessman, could be a somewhat gruff, no-nonsense kind of guy, but he melted in the presence of our Ghanaian WHH Scholars who, after their initial shyness, approached him fearlessly, and called him “Uncle Tom.” A gentle white man who didn’t mind if they touched his skin (“does his feel the same as mine?”) or tried to figure out his fancy camera.

Tom loved tramping around Axim with his GPS system, mapping water spigots, greeting adults, and being followed by a trail of inquisitive children. And, as our Vice-President for nearly nine years, Tom made sure our organization ran in a businesslike, professional manner. We all miss him so much.<o:p></o:p>
We thank you for your partnership in these projects that change individual lives and community futures.  We again assure you that we use 100% of your donations toward our projects.  We on the board handle all administrative activities, travel, and other costs.<o:p></o:p>

Best wishes to you in the New Year,<o:p></o:p>

Directors:  Maryanne Ward, Jerome Chandler, Rich Ward, Sue Pederson, and Louise Wilkinson<o:p></o:p>

<o:p> </o:p>

Ghana Together, 808 Addison Place, Mount Vernon, WA 98273
(360-848-6568)
Tax ID: 26-2182965<o:p></o:p>

by Ghana Together (noreply@blogger.com) at November 28, 2014 09:06 PM

November 24, 2014

Sean Collins' Haitian Voyage

Lascahobas

After saying goodbye to Herodion in Hinche, Ruben and I headed to Lascahobas to take on our next assignment.  We loaded into a van and were on our way.  The van was packed door to door.  Myself and 19 other people rocked back and forth as we ventured over the poorly maintained dirt road.  We reached the pavement and from there the ride was much better. Just as I started to doze off, our driver abruptly pulled over to the side of the road.  He went around to his front right tire, examined it, and then began to jack up the car.  We all piled out and moved over to the shade.  The driver decided that the highway was the best place to change his break pad. The passengers were none too pleased, and the general consensus was that the driver knew the problem existed long before we left, but didn’t want to delay and miss out on the money from a van full of people.    We impatiently waited while he finished up, and within an hour we were on our way once again. 
<o:p></o:p>


My instructions upon arriving in Lascahobas were to ask a motorcycle to take me to Bernadette’s house. Adam ensured me that they would know the way.  Lascahobas is a smaller town and Bernadette is a big name in the community, everyone knows and respects her.  We arrived and the driver knew just where to go. I paid him and we went inside.  Bernadette is an eccentric character whose friendly personality and hard work has made her a local celebrity.  She runs a school just up the road from her house and has quite the arsenal of XOs.  Unlike most schools, Bernadette’s school signs the laptops out to the students who take them home and bring them back to the school only for class.  Most places this is a bad idea but Lascahobas is a great town for this model.  As I was saying, Bernadette is a huge figure in the community.  Everyone knows her and knows that the XOs belong to her.  The community looks out for each other and looks out for her XO’s. Upon my arrival they had 46 laptops signed out to kids at the school.<o:p></o:p>

The first day we went to school and were taken up the laptop room.  Bernadette opened it up and we got to work.  I booted up my laptop and checked the school server.  Everything checked out so now it was time to check on the laptops.  Despite the school being set up with a new 12 volts electrical system 6 months prior to my arrival, they had been experiencing issues with charging the laptops. I found a good battery and used it to check through the 75 laptops that were laid out in front of me.  All but six were in perfect working condition and all but three I was able to salvage.  The next day we passed out 65 of those laptops and Thursday we had 3 laptop classes running simultaneously.  The total number of laptops was 109.  Next it was time to address the electrical issues.  <o:p></o:p>

The school has 2 permanent solar panels that run from the roof to a charge controller that converts the voltage to 12 volts.  The charge then travels to a set of 4 batteries connected in parallel, and then back up into the charge controller.  From there the wires carry the charge to a power strip that was connected to the wires by wrapping the wires around the prongs and taping them with electrical tape.  Definitely not a conventional set up but after a few minutes of confused stares I traced the flow of electricity.  I looked around the room and found a voltmeter, a familiar tool that I have used in physics lab multiple times.  I took off the plastic tips and got some readings.  After a few skype calls and a good amount of discussing we decided it would be best to detach the 3rd set of wires from the charge controller and connect them directly to the batteries.  This allowed us to get the 12 volts we needed to charge the laptops.  After fussing with the touchy wires for a while, we were able to have 9 laptops charging at once on the 12 volt system. <o:p></o:p>

The next day, the job was to address the state of the other set of 2 batteries connected in parallel.  These batteries were connected to wires that ran to the roof and had two ports for connecting a rollable solar panel.  Inside the computer room, the batteries had a wire running to another power strip able to charge 9 more laptops.  Based on the voltage being produced by these two batteries, it was easy to tell that the solar panel had been in storage longer than it should have been.  I took it out and carried it to the roof where I attached it.   One of the frustrating aspects of volunteer work is that at some point you leave, and the job is no longer in your hands.  Especially with technology, maintenance is important. Whether it was ignorance or laziness, the maintenance was not getting done.  Laziness I cannot fix, but as an educator I can do my best to cure ignorance.  I took a second to enjoy the lovely view before heading back to work. In the bottom of the frame you can see the rollable solar panel providing charge to the batteries. <o:p></o:p>

After a few hours of tinkering with broken laptops I went and checked the voltage across the portable system.  30 volts across the solar panel, and 13.4 volts across the battery flowing into the second power strip.  I hook up the remaining laptops, and all and all was able to charge 16 laptops on the 12 volt system.  Ruben and I smiled at our success and he ran off to get some lunch.  One of the children had brought me a laptop with a faulty keyboard, so I disassembled one of the broken XOs and was able to swap out keyboards.  He came back a few hours later and was extremely happy to have his laptop back in working condition.  The school has a pile of laptops that they claim are broken, a few seemed to have software issues but some are just good for parts.  After discussing it with Adam and Sora, we decided it would be a good idea my last day to run a workshop where I would teach a few of the best computer how to swap out parts. That was set up for Friday, but Thursday I would get the chance to do some teaching.          <o:p></o:p>

I spent most of the morning Thursday tinkering and was able to fix a couple more laptops.  My lesson plan was to bring my mother’s favorite game show to the children of Lascahobas, Jeopardy.  The school has a terabyte school server the kids can connect to, called Internet-in-a-box.  The hard drive contains Wikipedia in dozens of languages, Khan academy educational videos, and other educational tools and software.  I created a list of 16 questions and arranged them in a grid with 4 different categories.  The questions were designed to be difficult enough so that the kids would have to use the laptops to look up the answers.  A sample question was “how big is Haiti in kilometers?”  The categories were, the universe, Haiti facts, America facts, and Famous people.  The kids went straight for the questions about Haiti and searched the depths of Wikipedia for the answers.  Each correct answer was met with a celebration by the team receiving the points.  I asked a question about back home that I knew would be easy for the kids to find; “What is the capital of Michigan?” They got searching and a kid in the front row raised his hand.  I walked over to examine his answer.  He got to the page on Livonia, although his answer was wrong, it was cool to see that he had a great enough access to information that if he wanted to he could read all about Livonia Michigan, or the big bang theory, or general relativity, or anything that might spark the imagination.  A few minutes later I heard one of the kids in the second row sound out the correct answer. I awarded her team the points and with that they sealed the win. The class came to an end and Bernadette came in to address the kids.  They thanked me for being their guest teacher and for the work I was doing repairing the laptops.  I said goodbye and went back to get some rest before my final day.  <o:p></o:p>


On the final day I met with the teachers of the XO program.  I explained to them how the electrical system worked, and emphasized the importance of keeping everything well maintained.  One teacher especially seemed very eager to learn and seemed to understand my explanation.  I’m optimistic that when Sora and Nick arrive in mid-December, there will be very few issues.  After we worked through that and I answered their questions, I met with the star students of the XO program.  I taught one pair of kids how to disassemble the front of the laptop, and we replaced a broken screen.  The other group learned how to disassemble the bottom of the laptop and we replaced a keyboard.  The kids were intrigued, and their nimble hands made it easy for them to work on the tiny laptop.  We put everything back together and had two more working laptops.  We cleaned up and I left behind a screwdriver so that they could tinker.  I could have spent the rest of my time in Haiti at Lascahobas, fixing laptops, and teaching, but come Saturday it was time to say goodbye.     <o:p></o:p>

Lascahobas provided some unique challenges that raised a lot of frustrations, but reflecting on it, I’m optimistic for the kids.  They have great leadership in Bernadette, and they have some very able and willing teachers and students.  I look forward to reading Sora and Nick’s report after their visit.  Now I am back in Port-au-Prince where I will spend the next 10 days bouncing around the city teaching and working on connectivity issues.  I arrived in Haiti 2 months ago today.  It’s been a wonderful journey and I have truly enjoyed both teaching and learning everywhere I go.  I look forward to finishing strong.<o:p></o:p>

Hang on,<o:p></o:p>
Sean  <o:p></o:p>
   <o:p></o:p>


by Sean Collins (noreply@blogger.com) at November 24, 2014 12:07 AM

November 23, 2014

Bhagmalpur XO

“Whatever we don’t know, we learn by ourselves”

Here’s an interview with the kids in the village talking about their experiences of using the XO laptops and the XSCE server.
<iframe allowfullscreen="true" class="youtube-player" frameborder="0" height="312" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/PejW-EZsZzw?version=3&amp;rel=0&amp;fs=1&amp;showsearch=0&amp;showinfo=1&amp;iv_load_policy=1&amp;wmode=transparent" type="text/html" width="500"></iframe>

P.S. Please excuse my horrendous voice and pitiable interviewing skills :-)


by Anish Mangal at November 23, 2014 11:23 AM

November 20, 2014

Nancie Severs

Learning to Eat at the Bar. — Boston, MA


Boston, MA

Dining Solo in Boston
This isn’t a true “foodie piece.” I am in Boston for a couple of months for cancer treatment at Dana Farber and because of tummy side effects, my diet is limited. I read the menus and want everything. I’ve had fun looking and smelling but this won’t be a food review because I can’t taste it for you.

Grocery stores abound. The 24 hour Star Market is downstairs, both Trader Joes and Whole Foods are within an easy walk. I can easily get what I need, bananas &amp; fresh fruit, 100% cranberry juice and applesauce, my “Raw” protein powder, kombucha and ginger ale. At Copley Square there is a great Farmer's Market every Tuesday &amp; Friday until Thanksgiving. But feeling normal is staying normal and for me, that’s often going out to a restaurant to treat myself!

There are so many eateries in Back Bay that I don’t have to go far. I don’t plan when I’ll go foraging so I don’t make reservations. What’s it like to ask for a table at a popular place on a weekend night in Boston? “You are welcome to find a seat at the bar.” “Our bar isn’t like any bar, it’s a cool bar.” Etc.

I applaud places that have small tables in the dining room to seat us solo diners. Sometimes I want to sit at table and enjoy waiter service through a quiet dinner. But other times, a seat at the bar can be the entree’ to some of the best entrees in Boston.

For breakfast, Zaftigs in Brookline can’t be beat. In my neighborhood, Max Brenner (the famous “Bald Man” from Israel) is a must for sugar highs and the hot chocolate or mocha drinks, well they are surely too rich for me to review. The Trident Cafe (Newbury at the bookstore) is good but it’s very crowded on the weekends. I just discovered the Thornton Cafe on Huntington Ave, across the street and down a block from the Prudential T. I had an awesome breakfast there yesterday and will be back there again.

For dinner, I like Piattini on Newbury Street. It’s popular neighborhood Italian eatery with a menu of small plates or entrees complete with suggested wine pairings. The setting of divided dining rooms cuts down on the background noise. I like the food and eating at the bar there is perfectly pleasant. It’s not a sports bar and the absence of blaring tvs make that palatable, even enjoyable. I’ve been there a few times. They take reservations &amp; it’s great. If you want to watch a game, then a pub is perfect.

One night, I passed a noisy Irish Pub that I walk by each day. The daily special board outside Solas’ advertised sauteed filet of sole with rice and spinach and that sounded perfect for me. So I went inside Solas the two story Bar and Pub at Boylston’s Back Bay Lenox Hotel. It was prime time on Saturday night. I asked for a table for one. The Maitre de offered seats at the Bar and when I questioned the noise, he suggested that I check out the bar upstairs. I was glad I did. I found a tiny corner bar table - it was private, works for me. I checked out the pub menu of salads, burgers, and comfort food; i.e., things like shepherds pie, mac n cheese, beef stew and fish &amp; chips, and I ordered the fish special. I asked for the beurre blanc on the side &amp; no extra salt please. My waiter, Kevin was accommodating and
I was enjoying a glass of red wine when my dinner was served. An ample hot, fresh out of the kitchen and delicious. The fish, rice and sauteed spinach was cooked perfectly and was just what I wanted. I looked across to the next table and the food all looked great. The background noise transported me to a Saturday evening where friends are enjoying one another over drinks and a pub dinner, authentic and imitated but not easily replicated. I’ll be eating at Solas again. Try it, you’ll like it too.

I’ve eaten Thai at Chili Duck on Boylston several times. I find the fried noodle dishes there too oily but the soups, curries and other stir fry’s have all been good. The portions are ample too. I would prefer a more upscale “gourmet” Thai restaurant that concentrates more on flavor and less on volume. Does anyone have a “favorite” to recommend?

And Legal Seafood? I ate there a few times and it was mediocre to worse than that each time. I’d have to give it a 2 (for effort) on a 5 star scale. Skip it.

In Cambridge, my favorite ethnic eateries are Helmand (Afghani) at 143 1st Street (near the Cambridgeside Galleria.) and Rangzen (Tibetan) on Pearl Street at Central Square. Helmand is my go to restaurant with family and friends. I’ve been with Aaron, Bruria, and Lynn J, and it has been great each time. The food looks just like the photos here: http://helmandrestaurant.com/dinner.htm l and it tastes as good too! Rangzen is a lovely little spot and has an all you can eat lunch buffet that’s popular with my MIT &amp; OLPC friends. I prefer to order from the menu and I always enjoy a dinner there. Both Helmand &amp; Rangzen offer reasonably priced flavorful food that we can’t get in rural New Hampshire.

And then there are the food trucks: we know they are a trend now across the country. I’ve gotten a good idea of the difficulty putting out a successful concept and tasty food from watching The Food Truck Wars on TV’s Food Network. But, Oh the Boston Food Trucks:). I check the menu and salivate over each one I pass. I read that there are 36 different Food Trucks roving Boston but I think there must be even more. They have a schedule and you'll find it here: http://www.cityofboston.gov/foodtrucks/ schedule-app-min.asp I found the colorful French Macaroon truck on a Sunday at Copley Square. On Thursday afternoons/evenings, the Frozen Hoagie truck is out with Hand Scooped giant ice cream sandwiches. I’ve been snapping photos of the coolest trucks I pass. Be sure to check them out. (Click a photo to scroll through all of the photos.)

I have a few more days in my Boston apartment (yes, I extended it again) and then I can go home definitely before Thanksgiving. The first treatment protocol won’t be finished yet, but I’ll be able to commute for the remainder of it.

I’ve finished 7 weeks &amp; 3 types of pelvic radiation with treatment mostly every day. Finding food was easy even with my funky diet. I rarely needed to cook. The (free) Partners Health hospital shuttle stop was just 4 blocks away. Taking the bus kept me outside walking, and in bad weather, Uber was just a phone app away. I feel fortunate that I was able to get through this part of the treatment on my own.

I have a long day of chemo today. My sister, Lynn is here with me and she’ll come back to NH for a few days too. Mark will come down for the remaining chemo cycles as the dates for treatment often get changed making it hard to plan ahead for that.

It’s never a good time to be a cancer patient &amp; it feels hard to start chemo again at this point. I'm in the allergy desensitizaton suite because I am allergic to the drugs I need for a cure. The chemo-therapeutics are given at a very specialized and slow rate hopefully below that which will trigger the IGE antibody allergy response, avoiding that. It takes at least 10 hours and makes for a long day. But I have a private, quiet space, my own nurse, and a doctor is present all day for just the 4 patients that are scheduled today. The care here is beyond comparison!

My hair grew back to about 1/4 inch but most likely it will fall out again. I told Mark that I am so done with this even though I’m not done yet. I fear that once home, I’ll want to call it quits. Mark says I’m at the 18th mile already of the marathon. It might feel like “Heartbreak Hill” but I can’t stop now when I am already in the home stretch. That really helps. Thank you Mark!

Once I reach the finish line, I’ll be returning to my Boston doctors for regular follow ups. And just think about it. By then I’ll be able to eat from the food trucks and the restaurants too and then, I can actually review the food!


November 20, 2014 04:48 AM

November 19, 2014

Nancie Severs

Boston Treatment Begins — Boston, MA


Boston, MA

Where I stayed
With Friends in Coolidge Corner, Brookline


I spent four days in Boston with preliminary appointments and setting up logistics. I went home for the weekend and now I am back in Boston. My old friends, Adele &amp; Larry, were terrific hosts and I stayed with them. I enjoyed the city, and even went to a great yoga class at Coolidge Corner Yoga in between my appointments. Scroll through the photos and you can see some of Boston in mid-summer.

It is very weird because I don't feel really sick yet. But they must expect me to get sick because I have three nausea meds prescribed. My first chemo infusion will be on Monday. It is 4-5 hours, once it starts. I’ll need to be there several hours before it starts too.

The first treatment challenge is whether I’ll tolerate the chemo without a rash or allergy. I saw two very bright physicians last week specifically to address my past medication adverse events. We have a plan and we are prepared. I'm psyched to get started. After Chemo, I'll get my haircut on Wednesday, short. Then I’ll have about 3 weeks before you see pictures in cool head wraps. Have you ever wondered why chemo patients often lose their hair? It's because the chemo targets the fastest growing cells in our bodies for the "kill." Cancer cells grow too fast. "They don't die enough." Our hair is made up of our fastest growing "normal" cells, and since the chemo targets fast growing cells, it also kills our hair follicles. That's why I'll lose my hair.

I have a lot of confidence in the doctors at Dana - Farber. Heck their pathologists saved my life already when they correctly re-diagnosed the type of cancer that I have. I fully expect that together we can pull out a cure. I'm prepared to do whatever it takes.

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November 19, 2014 05:31 PM

Hands of Charity XO Project | Kenya

More Jungle Stories of Poachers and Animal Activism

ANIMALS IN JUNGLE CHURCH PRAYING.

Giraffe PrayingPastor Giraffe praying.

Our Jungle ancestry gods, as tall as I’am I can even see a poacher from far, my head is near the sky, I can eat fresh leaves compared to other wildlife, as polite as I’am I humbly request for backfiring spirits against poachers who are really against our two brothers Rhino and Elephant for their admirable horns and tusks. Ohh! Grant Mr Leopard all the power to chase and capture poachers as well as giving Mr. Elephant an intelligent officer wisdom of interogating poachers to give us proper reason why they poach us, bless our Jungle king His Lords Mr. Lion with a heart of forgiveness when the truth is said to maintain peace and harmony in our Jungle kingdom. See how how I have folded my neck just for you to hear my prayer and all the respect you preserve. All I pray-:

All:Amen Amen Amen.

Leopard captured a poacher after a long race.

The Poacher: Is that the leopard, okay! I think it has spotted me.

What can I do?

Yeah, the only solution is shoot.

Hey! Leopard – I will finish you if you come this side, I’m well armed.

Leopard:- Mmm! you finish us ———. Today is today! our ancestry gods will render your arms useless. Is that clear?

The Poacher: – (Trying to shoot but all in vein). What is wrong with this gun? Hey!!!! (As the leopard furiously attack the poacher)

(The poacher dropped the weapon as it was heavy for him to run faster and fall which gave the easiest time to capture and took him to Jungle crime for interrogation.)

NEW ART 2 33Interrogation proceedings

Mr. Elephant:- Mr poacher, how did you get yourself in this jungle crime room?

Poacher:-I was found poaching by Mr. Leopard who captured and brought me here.

Mr. Elephant:- What were you doing in this jungle kingdom

 

Poacher:- I was sent by middlemen to hunt and kill the family of the two brothers who are here with us Mr.Elephant and Rhino

Elephant/Rhino:- (at once) Ohh!— you are the killer of our families? ( while nodding their heads)

Tiger:- Before I prosecute you, can you briefly why you do this work? I say this because I’m a jungle court prosecutor.

Poacher:- Poverty, lots of monies paid after killing and chopping off horns/ tusks and deliver and lack of employment.

 

 


by smallsolutionsbigideas at November 19, 2014 04:17 PM

November 18, 2014

Nancie Severs

Mind Over Matter & Boston Attractions/Distractions — Boston, MA


Boston, MA

"And the Seasons, They Are A Changin." Autumn has turned to early winter. Yesterday, Boston was cold, windy &amp; pouring rain. Today we even saw snow flurries. Daylight Savings Time has ended &amp; today, the sun set at 5:00 PM. Luckily, Boston is rich with attractions and distractions both indoors and out. To see some of what I've been doing, just click through my Iphone photos posted here.

I can hardly believe that I have completed six weeks of my radiation protocol already. I'll be here two more weeks and then resume commuting for the remaining chemotherapy.

Side effects have gotten very unpleasant but only intermittently so and I can see the end this part of the treatments. I don't yet have the schedule for the last 3 chemos yet. But maybe I'll be through by the end of January and start to heal. I have read that chemo and radiation actually wounds the body. Not unlike surgery wounds, I will need to heal from these treatments too. It can take 6 months to 1 year to heal from the treatments and rebuild strength.

I'm grateful that I was strong coming into this, and I have been able to keep a minimal level of fitness up. I read this very interesting recent New York Times article:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/26/magaz ine/what-if-age-is-nothing-but-a-mind-s et.html

It's principally about mind over matter. There are some older non traditional studies profiled that show that folks can trick themselves into feeling younger than their years both physically and mentally. It points out that when we are diagnosed with a medical (or emotional) problem or illness, we think we are sick and we act sick, becoming sicker than we need be, because of our mindset.

The approach I am taking with this bump in the road is to not view myself as sick. It just so happens I need to show up for treatment as part of my day. No matter what symptoms I might have, is dealing with it much different than dealing with my cranky knee which is spent from years of skiing? By not letting anyone treat me as ill, I mostly don't feel ill. The NYT's article puts what my practice does for me into words.

I think that the well meaning actions and reactions of our loved ones to diagnoses of major illnesses like Alzheimer's or cancer can exacerbate illness by treating us as "patients," especially as needy and ill patients.

I don't always feel great, and believe me, I would prefer to not have needed these toxic cancer treatments. But life IS what it is and I'm practicing making lemonade out of lemons!

I continue to enjoy my impromptu Boston vacation. The many lessons of my yoga teachers help. Yoga is safe exercise when properly taught and practiced. When I take a class with other yogis, I feel strong, not ill. It keeps me very much in the present and I even forget that I have cancer. The lessons of yoga are to observe with awareness and to honor our bodies without doing harm. Even if I don't do all of the class poses, I benefit from the normalcy of being in class.

My teachers' teacher, BKS Iyengar says: " Fear and fatigue block the mind. Confront both squarely, then courage and confidence will flow into you." I strive to follow his wise advice.

Thank you for your thoughts and continued encouragement.
Love, Nancie

November 18, 2014 11:22 PM

Settling into Back Bay — Boston, MA


Boston, MA

It's past time for an update. Life has been busy. I appreciate all of your condolences &amp; inquiries into how I am feeling and well wishes.

I stayed in Florida for 2 weeks after Mom died. We 4 siblings spent good time together and worked well together to organize things that needed to be done. Once Mom's apartment was emptied out, my sister Lynn came up to Boston to help me get settled in for my Radiation treatment to begin.

We enjoyed a couple of nice days in Boston and I had my setup appointments at BWH. We then had a beautiful early foliage weekend at home in NH. Everything is still green in Boston. This year I'm lucky. I get to have two autumns!

I have settled into a comfy well located Back Bay apartment &amp; I have almost finished 3 weeks of radiation. If all goes as scheduled, I'll be here for 5 more weeks.

After the first 3 rounds of chemo, the combination treatment is taking its toll onmy stomach &amp; energy. My blood counts are not unexpectedly low, keeping me very tired and even more susceptible to illness and infection. It has been a challenge to figure out how to eat when my otherwise healthy diet (vegetarian, seafood, salads, beans, fruit &amp; nuts &amp; gelato:)) is no longer appropriate. Despite the wealth of fun restaurants and prepared food available within a few minute radius, I have to make my “safe” foods myself and it is time consuming. As I try to keep up my fitness I must also think about balancing the calories out against the calories in. Weekends are my treatment days off, and I try to take it easy so that my body can withstand further treatment.

I am settling into a routine, i rest when tired, i walk some and window shop when bored, and I catch the Sunday yoga class at the nearby Lulu Lemon when I can. While it is hard to be away from Mark and my dear Upper Valley friends, I know that at Dana Farber and Brigham &amp; Womens, I am getting the best
care available for the type of cancer I have.

A Zebra doesn't change its stripes.:) I am still snapping I photos as I wander around. Enjoy them.
I'm managing well and I plan to stay strong enough to continue to enjoy something about every day, during my short stay in Back Bay.

November 18, 2014 11:16 PM

Hands of Charity XO Project | Kenya

November 16, 2014

Sean Collins' Haitian Voyage

Hinche

So after my week in Port-au-Prince, I took a trip back to America to see friends and family.  I left from Communitere and headed to the airport early on the morning of November 1st.  After getting overcharged for my taxi ride, I piled into the airport and worked my way through security.  Haiti is an exhausting place to work, and as much as I love what I’m doing, it was nice to be able to take a break for 10 days.  After my 7 hour layover in Fort Lauderdale I boarded the plane for Detroit.  I sat next to a lovely 50 year old couple from Toledo.  The husband David and I chatted the whole flight, and occasionally his wife would jump in.  They left me with a book on neuroscience and religion.  Not particularly my area of interest, but I’m sure my mom will enjoy reading it.  I said goodbye to them and walked out into the frigid outside world to meet me girlfriend Michelle. I saw her soccer mom van and made my way over to receive a long overdue hug.  We got into the car and I drove back to my house.  It was great to be with her once again, and it was great finally be able to drive myself. We got home and I was introduced to my new dog for the first time. His name is Bo and he’s a labradoodle. <o:p></o:p>

I spent the rest of my week off relaxing and seeing some familiar faces.  I went to Oakland on Tuesday and with Michelle’s help we were able to surprise Nicole Vitale ( @gingermermaidd ) for lunch. Along with some others we took a trip to Burgerz. 10/10 would recommend.  Later in the week I went up to MSU to visit some other people.  When I got there I hung out in the one and only Eden Rock apartment 203, and caught up with everyone.  Later in the night I got to see my blogs #1 fan Lucas Wilson ( @sirlucaswilson ) and we got some bubble tea.  The tea itself sucked but the experience was a 7.8/10.  The next day I headed back home to finish up my vacation.  I went on a few dates with Michelle, including a Plymouth Whalers game.  Our favorite player Sonny Milano scored the game winner in a shootout.  Sadly Tuesday the 11th my vacation came to an end.  It was nice to see everyone once again, but it was time to gather myself and finish what I set out to do.  My dad drove me to the airport and I boarded the plane heading south.  After my overnight layover in Fort Lauderdale, I flew to Haiti and it was right back to work.  <o:p></o:p>

Ruben met me at the airport and we headed to Communitere so I could drop some stuff off.  I gathered what I needed and we started our journey to Hinche.  My goal for the 5 days there would be to assess the status of the school server and the laptop program.  Ruben and I bounced around a few taptaps and finally arrived at our van that would take us the rest of the way.  We loaded in and waited for the van to fill up so the driver would leave.  2 hours, 15 people, 1 mattress, 1 box spring, 1 microwave, 1 fan, and 1 propane tank later, the van was pack on the interior and exterior and ready to go.  We pulled away from the city and the scene quickly became open fields, and then mountains.  We continued our climb, winding back and forth.  Looking back toward where we just came from was a breathtaking view.  The roads shoulder dropped off into a steep slope that feel drastically before curving and leveling out into the flat valley that is Port-au-Prince.  From the mountains you get a much better idea of the size of the capital city.  The buildings run from the mountains edge up to the mouth of the ocean which was shining brightly in the afternoon light.  We continued up and down left and right, and a few hours later we arrived in Hinche. <o:p></o:p>

Upon arriving we were greeted by Herodion, who would be hosting us during our time there.  We got some rest after the long day of travel and started at the school the next day.  The school, St. Andres, is just a stones throw away from where we were staying, so we walked over and began our work.  I checked the school server and initially everything looked great.  They school had electricity for starters. They turned the server on as soon as I arrived and I was able to connect right away.  This made me optimistic for the rest of the week. The hardware was functioning and that’s the first step.  After examining the server further we found an issue with the way that the server was storing the data.  The Unleash Kids team back home was able to fix everything remotely and within a few hours the software was functioning properly also.  I went out to eat with Ruben and Herodion and we celebrated a successful first day.  <o:p></o:p>

The next day I returned to the school to examine what had been going on with the laptop program.  The laptops had apparently not been getting used recently and the job was to figure out why.  The hardware and software was working so we suspected the problem was bureaucracy.  I met with one of the programs teachers Darus and asked him why things had come to a halt.  His answer was that the classes stopped because the money stopped.  He and the other teacher, Herodion, had stopped getting paid and as a result the classes stopped running.  The school is sponsored by a group from California and they pay a lot of money.  A portion of that is supposed to be allocated to paying for the laptop program, including hardware, software, and teachers.  The school and its’ director managed to maintain the first 2, but failed to pay their teachers.  Darus has been working with the laptop program since  October 2013. Based on the journal entries from the XO laptops, I can tell that most weeks we was running the class 3 or 4 times a week. In January 2014, Herdion joined the program and the two split the work load.  It’s unclear exactly how much either has been paid, but it’s very clear that there has been a mismanagement of funds that has led to two hardworking teachers being underpaid and under-appreciated.  There’s a lot of speculation as to just where these funds are going, but they are definitely not going where they were intended.  I was insured by the schools director that classes would be running again by next week, but I find that unlikely.  I may come back in December to visit with my brother. It will be interesting to see if any progress has been made.  <o:p></o:p>

After a bleak Friday, we decided that Saturday I would visit a local tourist trap, Bassin Zim.  After an 8 mile motorcycle ride up and down a dirt road we arrived at the gate, Herodion explained that I was in Hinche for a short period of time and wanted to see the sights.  He let us in and we rolled up to the water’s edge.  Bassin Zim is a beautiful waterfall that flows down the rocks and into a reservoir that leads into another river.  

The view was amazing and when I finally took my eyes off the flowing water I realized that I was surrounded by a group of 5th grade Haitians eager to give me a tour.  They are used to having Americans, and they know enough English to communicate all the important ideas.  We walked up a path to the right of the mountains and we headed up to the caves.  The first cave we saw the called the big cave.  Water flowed from a natural spring in the back up the cave and trickled out down a small river at the caves enterance.  Along the side wall a series of bee’s nests sat staring back at me.  I walked up the river and the kids warned me about the bees to my left and about the bats overhead.  The cave was magnificent. The walls were covered in writing from tourists who had visited.  There were also cave paintings that the Haitian guides claimed were native Taino drawings.  I don’t know if I buy it but if true the drawings have an eerie connotation.  Columbus landed in Haiti in 1492 and the Spaniards enslaved the native Taino people. By the turn of the 18th century the natives had been all but wiped out.   We pressed on into the cave and I looked up to see an opening that had been repelled into by some more adventurous Blan than myself.  We exited the cave and went to the river’s edge to see where the falls began.  The water rushed by below and I took it all in. Below is a panoramic shot.<o:p></o:p>


We headed back down the steps and on our way down we visited the little cave.  The tour guides explained that it was a cave that was used to house voodoo rituals.  Again I was skeptical that this may just be what they tell tourists to scare/excite them, but I played along and one of my guides, Jonas, took some pictures.  <o:p></o:p>



After leaving the voodoo cave we went back down to the water’s edge.  The kids asked me if I could swim and then asked me to race them.  I laughed and accepted their challenge.  We got into out swim attire and the kids whined about the cold water.  It was nothing compared to what I’ve swam in back home.  John was the only one brave enough to get in with me and we raced to the other side of the reservoir.  It wasn’t really that close but the kids were cheering me on the whole way.  We got out on the other side and climbed up the rock face and relaxed for a while.  <o:p></o:p>


After swimming for a while longer, we decided to call it a day and get back before the day came to an end.  Bassin Zim was a good way to end what was otherwise a pretty frustrating week.  Fixing technical difficulties can be challenging enough, but bureaucratic difficulties are a totally different beast.  I wish everyone involved at St. Andres all the best, but I am not optimistic.  If progress is to be made there will need to be a reallocation of responsibilities.   <o:p></o:p>

I’ll be spending the next 5 days in Lascahobas which is about an hour south of Hinche.  There I will be again be assessing server issues, but since I am arriving on a Monday, I will be able to resolve issues early in the week and teach later in the week.  I look forward to getting back to my forte, teaching.  <o:p></o:p>

Hang on,<o:p></o:p>
Sean                <o:p></o:p>

    <o:p></o:p>

by Sean Collins (noreply@blogger.com) at November 16, 2014 10:23 PM

November 15, 2014

OLPC SF

OLPC San Francisco Community Summit 2014 - Videos

For those who were wondering about the summit videos, those are automatically archived and posted to YouTube via Google HangoutsOnAir. Very easy to manage and process.

https://www.youtube.com/user/olpcsf/videos

 

by sverma at November 15, 2014 06:55 PM

November 12, 2014

Jim Gettys

Does the Internet need “Governance”?

Dave Reed just published a vital piece concerning network neutrality. Everyone interested in the topic should  carefully read and understand  Does the Internet need “Governance”?

One additional example of “light touch” help for the Internet where government may play a role is transparency: the recent MLAB’s report and the fact that Cogent’s actions caused retail ISP’s to look very badly is a case in point. You can follow up on that topic on the MLabs’s mailing list, if you are so inclined. If a carrier can arbitrarily delay/deprioritize traffic in secret, then the market (as there are usually alternatives in transit providers) cannot function well. And if that provider is an effective monopoly for many paths, that becomes a huge problem.


by gettys at November 12, 2014 07:16 PM

November 09, 2014

OLPC SF

October 18th, 2014 Proclaimed One Laptop Per Child Day

Proclamation of OLPC DayThis year's Summit is wrapped up and behind us. Thank you all who attended in person or online. During the Summit we presented the proclamation from San Francisco's Mayor Ed Lee that Saturday October 18th, 2014 is One Laptop Per Child Day!

Our community works hard to bring child-centered education to some of the most remote places in the world. By leveraging technology, we've created an ecosystem of self-empowered learning which can reach a very broad audience. From our beloved green XOs, to inexpensive Android tablets, to what hardware lies beyond, students previously without access or with limited access to education and information now have a low power, low cost device with which to collaborate and explore.

These accomplishments do not come for free! Through years of research, hours of hard work, successes and failures we've accomplished a lot. There is still more to do, but we take a moment to pause and reflect. Let us recognize the hard work that we've all done.

The City and County of San Francisco recognizes this hard work. As presented at the Summit, Mayor Ed Lee has proclaimed Saturday October 18th, 2014 to be One Laptop Per Child Day! The proclamation reads:

 

WHEREAS, One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing opportunities to children in underserved communities with education and technology programs geared to help them experience success as adults in a technology-driven world; and
WHEREAS, OLPC has provided millions of children worldwide with a laptop enabling their access to education through technology and building positive identities that will also benefit the communities in which they live to advance and prosper; and
WHEREAS, OLPC is dedicated to low power, low cost, low maintenance hardware, with free and open source software, designed for collaboration and self-empowered learning; and
WHEREAS, under the exceptional leadership of One Laptop Per Child's dedicated staff and volunteers in San Francisco and beyond, the organization has provided countless opportunities to children worldwide and has improved the quality of life for those challenged with the lack of available resources in their communities; and
WHEREAS, our City commends and thanks the volunteers, staff and advocates from all over the world who are gathering in San Francisco physically and virtually for the annual OLPC Community Summit to continue growing and developing this tremendous endeavor; now
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that I, Edwin M. Lee, Mayor of the City and County of San Francisco, on the occasion of the sixth annual OLPC Community Summit, do hereby proclaim October 18th, 2014 as...
 
ONE LAPTOP PER CHILD DAY in San Francisco!
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the City and County of San Francisco to be affixed.
Edwin M. Lee
Mayor
 

The work of this community is monumental towards bringing education and opportunities to some of the most under represented places and people of the world. Volunteers from our community, not just us here in San Francisco, not just those of us who attended in person at the Summit, but our global community. Congratulations to all of you!

 

by adborden at November 09, 2014 03:45 PM

November 03, 2014

Sugar Digest / Walter Bender

Sugar Digest 2014-11-03

Sugar Digest

1. I spent the month of October reacquainting myself with Javascript. Since I cannot learn without learning about something (to paraphrase Seymour Paper), I wrote a new version of Turtle Blocks in Javascript. It is far from finished, but it is already usable (at least from a Chrome browser — for some reason I have broken it on Firefox). Feedback most welcome both in terms of the activity itself and any improvements I can make to the code. (Note: saving is a bit flaky at the moment, so please be prepared to lose your work.)

It is inevitable that Javascript/HTML5 is in our future and so I am determined to make the best of it. While we were in San Francisco at the Google Summer of Code reunion, Martin Abente, Gonzalo Odiard, and I sent time with Raul Gutierrez Segales working on several aspects of the Sugar-web framework, including a model for “under the tree” collaboration. Martin wrote a simple server using socket.io and I wrote a simple neighborhood view that lets you see your collaborators. We had the opportunity to bounce ideas of Ben Schwartz, Sameer Verma, Aaron Borden, and Bernie Innocenti.

Raul, Martin, and I also did some brainstorming about developing a new web backend for the Sugar datastore based on git. Details to follow.

Tip of the hat to Alex Kleider, who hosted our Sugar Camp on his houseboat in Redwood City. Alex has also been providing me with comprehensive feedback on Turtle Blocks JS.

Aside: Raul added a wrapper to Turtle Blocks JS that enables it to be launched as a Facebook App. Not public yet as we await Facebook approval, but it opens some interesting possibilities about where we can take some of the core ideas from Sugar.

2. The Google Summer of Code reunion was lots of fun. A chance to catch up with old friends and to help bring into focus some future directions. I spent time with the Google Code In team and I got Sugar Lab’s application submitted. We still need to flesh out the wiki page with more task ideas and add our growing mentor list. Please contact me regarding details.

3. Gonzalo, Aaron, and Sameer organized Turtle Art Day San Francisco in conjunction with the OLPC SF meeting. While more sparsely attended than we had anticipated, nonetheless, it was an enriching experience for those who came. Martin also joined the fun, helping with some Turtle Bots programming.

4. It is not too late to toss your hat into the ring for the annual Sugar Labs Oversight Board election (AKA SLOBs). Four (4) seats are open (due to staggered seat terms) for election / re-election to the Sugar Labs Oversight Board for 2013-2014, those of Daniel Francis, Gonzalo Odiard, Adam Holt, and Claudia Urrea. Please let me know if you are interested running for one of our board seats and also, please add your self to the candidates’ wiki page. Also, since only members receive ballots, please be sure to sign up for membership by following the instructions in the wiki. Finally, we need help running the election itself. Please contact me (or Luke Faraone) if you are interested in helping.

Sugar Labs

5. Please visit our planet.

by Walter Bender at November 03, 2014 04:03 PM

November 01, 2014

Sean Collins' Haitian Voyage

Cazeau

Following my work in Grand Goave, I headed back to Port-au-Prince.  More specifically I spent the week at a school in Cazeau.  The facility is part school, part orphanage, and part church.  I visited there earlier in my trip and taught the scientific method with Dyna.  This time around I focused my efforts on tech support.

Cazeau is one of the schools funded by Ken Beaver the founder of Hope for Haiti's Children.  Everyone in the Unleash Kids organization agrees that Cazeau is a promising place on the brink of success.  The school has one of the best teachers I have ever had the pleasure of working with in Dyna. They have plenty of XO's for their after school program, and they also have something called Internet-in-a-box. This is a terabyte hard drive that connects to the school server.  On the hard drive is all of Wikipedia in 5 or 6 different languages, Khan Academy's educational videos, and Project Gutenberg's collection of free eBooks.  So just by connecting to the school server, the students can access any and all of this information.  Doing so makes it much easier to ensure that the kids are using the internet for good, and not evil.  A lot of what I have been doing is structured guided leaning, which is undoubtedly beneficial, but the Internet-in-a-box allows for self-guided, exploratory learning.  It allows the students to discover their own truths rather than just eating the fruit of knowledge that I spoon feed them.  My challenge for the week was getting everything in order.

Sunday and Monday were spent as diagnostic days.  I had my phone running a Skype call with our tech experts and they walked me through the steps.  A problem would arise, I would report it, the group would discuss it, come to a consensus, and I would take the necessary steps to resolve the issue.  By Tuesday we had everything set up and ready to go. I tested it out by looking up some articles on things back home. I planned to return Wednesday, explain the set up to Dyna, and teach a class with her on Thursday.


Wednesday rolled around and I headed out to the school to start my day.  I walked down to the nearest intersection, hopped on a taptap and got off at my stop.  After saying hello to the excited schoolkids, I went over to the orphanage side to get everything ready.  I did not have a translator and was greeted by a man they call Zekie. He and his wife Sonya live in the house I worked in all week, and they oversee the orphanage. I said hello to Zekie and he spit out a long Creole monologue.  I wasn't able to get everything but the gist of it was that they did not have electricity.  I later found out that the reason they didn't have electricity was because someone had stolen the city electrical wire running from the school to the orphanage.  This was a disappointing setback to say the least, but I was reassured that the problem would be fixed the next day.  I went over a few things with Dyna and headed back to Haiti Communitere while the wires were replaced.

Thursday I came back to a school with working electricity.  The crew working was extremely efficient and I was able to get everything set up right away.  The next step was to just wait for Dyna to come so we could get a class going.  The hours came and passed and I saw no sign of her.  She was not teaching her usual day class and I began to grow concerned.  I did not have my Haitian phone with me that day so I had no way to reach her, I hung around the school and met a group of kids doing the same.  I spoke all the Creole I could in hopes of figuring out the situation with Dyna and her class.  The kids informed me that she would not be coming and that there would not be class that day.  I made the most out of my time with them and played some soccer before leaving for the day.  When I got back to my phone I saw that Dyna had taken a sick day, but she would be back Friday.  Things never seem to quite go as you plan, especially in Haiti, so I've learned to be flexible.

Friday I got to the school an hour early and had some time to kill before Dyna arrived.  I rounded up a group of kids and we played a game of pickup basketball.  My 6 foot frame was a bit of an advantage playing with a group of 8-12 year olds, but I did my best to make sure everyone got their moment of glory.  Dyna showed up around 1 and I switched gears back to teacher mode.  I showed her the basics of how everything worked and ensured her that if she needed any support she's be able to contact myself or someone else in the organization.  She's an extremely gifted teacher and right away she saw the benefit in being able to access the near infinite amount of information.  I left very optimistic that by my next visit she will have made amazing progress.

After Cazeau, I headed to Silar's orphanage.  I went back to the main intersection by Communitere, and boarded into a moving van along with about 35 other people.  I tend to stand out in Haiti, and as a result I was the topic of discussion during our 15 minute ride.  No one spoke to me directly, but there was an ongoing argument on whether I could speak Creole, and if I could understand what they were saying.  One woman had a fairly strong opinion that people coming to Haiti really should just learn the language, according to her it isn't that difficult to learn.  Eventually I blew my cover by letting out a smirk.  The secret was out and everyone seemed to rejoice the fact that I knew what they were saying.  I informed them that I am still learning Creole, but I can understand a little bit. One of the passengers, Carlos, befriended me and volunteered to help me get to my destination.

Carlos wasn't much help but I appreciated the gesture.  I arrived at Silar's and said goodbye to him and wished him luck.  At Silar's I preformed more diagnostics in an effort to resolve the issues with his internet.  Silar runs an orphanage of around 70 kids.  They do not receive nearly the funding that a lot of places do, but Silar knows how to make every penny count.  He's an amazing guy and he does amazing things.  With Adam's help we were able to determine that the internet supplier had, for some reason, not reset his data for the month of October.  We are currently waiting to see if the new month brought new internet.  Regardless we will be contacting them soon to recover our lost month.

It was a busy week and I did a lot more tech work than I ever thought I would be doing.  The problems are never finished and you definitely just have to roll with it.  I enjoy every day off that I can get, it gives me a change to refuel and recharge.  I don't know what's in store for me next, but I'm confident that I'll be able to handle it.

Hang on,
Sean            

by Sean Collins (noreply@blogger.com) at November 01, 2014 09:01 PM

October 31, 2014

Ghana Together

Mission Accomplished! AAGHS Building Renovation Complete


Paramount Chief Awulae Attibruskusi III and other Axim leaders championed the idea of an academic high school for girls for at least ten years before we arrived in 2006. Finally, the town of Axim was able to launch the Axim All-Girls High School (AAGHS) in 2009, under the leadership of Headmistress Cecelia Bonku.
On May 21, 2012, AAGHS was officially absorbed into the Ghana Education Service as a fully-accredited high school, a wonderful achievement.
Mrs. Bonku went on to become the Health/Safety Officer for all Axim/Nzema East Schools, and AAGHS proceeded under the leadership of Madame Stella Adjei, Headmistress.
At first, they met in a former Junior High building. Then the Ghanaian government built classrooms and a “cookhouse.”
 
The former JHS building became administrative office space, teacher workroom, science lab, and home economics room.  <o:p></o:p>


AAGHS Classroom Building. Plans are to add a second story
 
So, by early 2014, they had classrooms...BUT, something was missing!
The girls were sitting outside on the ground to eat their meals---the school provides three meals/day and the cookhouse is a busy place---too small to accommodate tables for dining.
...No place to eat their meals. No place to gather for “all school” meetings. No place to study between classes. No place to gather with friends to discuss….whatever high school girls in Ghana discuss!! (Probably about the same topics the world over!)
When Maryanne Ward visited Axim in Feb. this year, Western Heritage Home leaders and Headmistress Stella Adjei showed her a dilapidated (VERY dilapidated!!) building on the Axim All-Girls High School (AAGHS) campus.
They had consulted with a District Engineering staff member, who assured them the building was structurally sound and could be renovated for use as a dining/assembly/study hall!!??

We were skeptical...is it possible...???
SO, throwing all caution and skepticism aside (!) Ghana Together and Western Heritage Home designated renovating this old building as a major project for 2014.
The girls got to work, cleaning up the site!

 
 
Celebrating their cleanup day with tools in hand! Their enthusiasm spurred on the adults---led by Headmistress Stella Adjei (in blue shirt)
 
We are happy to announce:
!!Mission accomplished!!
 
Now it's the PTA's turn! They have committed to clean up and paint the inside and provide tables and benches. We hope to have photos of that soon.


AAGHS Students grouped in front of their newly renovated building
  
Rear of building
 
Ghana Together has worked with Western Heritage Home and the AAGHS staff on other projects. We moved the science room into the high school, in 2013 and continue to support it. <o:p></o:p>
This year we provided another dozen or so laminated posters on various scientific subjects, added more scientific calculators to the 50 already given, and other supplies.

We provided a laptop for Madame Stella, an overhead projector for science transparencies, and a computer projector for teacher use.

We are currently working with Unleash Kids to provide Internet-In-A-Box (IIAB), since the school does have electricity (on and off...) and a new computer lab, stocked with notebook computers provided by the Ghana Education Service---but, it does not have internet access.
IIAB will give the girls access to research materials such as Wikipedia (in English, French, Arabic, and Swahili), Khan Academy Math and Science videos, and other resources.
Also, the Heritage Building (aka Children's Home...) now serves as a dormitory for girls attending AAGHS from other towns. There are 32 girls there now, and more freshman students are arriving in the next few weeks. Will there be enough bunk beds? Nice problem!!!
Yes, we are proud...so many have helped...we and our Ghanaian friends are grateful.

by Ghana Together (noreply@blogger.com) at October 31, 2014 04:41 AM

October 27, 2014

Hands of Charity XO Project | Kenya

Humane Education Contribution to Making Our Future

Dear Friends, Students and Teachers,

This video has some great words about educators and children as change makers.  I recommend it.     http://humaneeducation.org/watch-zoe-weils-talk/


by smallsolutionsbigideas at October 27, 2014 12:25 AM

October 25, 2014

Sean Collins' Haitian Voyage

Grand Goave: Week Three

Going into the week I was under the impression that I would again be without a translator.  Sunday night I received the wonderful news from Sora and Adam that this would not be the case.  Jeanide, who I worked with in Port-au-Prince, had managed to find time in her busy schedule to make the trip east, to help me throughout the week.  She left Monday during the morning and arrived when I returned from school. I thanked her greatly for coming on such a short notice and began to lay out my lesson plans for the week.  <o:p></o:p>

Tuesday I decided that I would introduce the scientific method to both classes by using the same sound experiment I used at Cazeau.  The experiment is very simple.  Line up 4 glass bottles each with a different amount of water in it, then ask the students which bottle will have the lowest pitch.  Asking a question is the first step of the scientific method.  Next is to do research.  For this I had the students pull up the Wikipedia page on sound, and they did a little bit of reading.  The class came to the consensus that sound is a wave, and the different amounts of water would cause different pitches.  Step 3 the kids formed a hypothesis.  All guessed that either 1 or 4 would have the lowest pitch.  Step 4 we performed the experiment and found that bottle 4 had the lowest pitch. The class then recorded their results for step 5, and for step 6 we drew a conclusion.  As the amount of water increases, the pitch decreases.  Not a ground breaking experiment to say the least, but definitely simple enough to convey the proper procedure when doing scientific investigation.  <o:p></o:p>

Wednesday I had planned to teach a music class with Mistro.  He is the piano player in the church’s band and he could definitely teach the kids one or two things about how to read and play music.  He has been terribly unreliable during my time here, but I figured if I gave him a chance to teach something he truly loved, that maybe he would take some initiative and show up.  Once again he let me down.  It was 10 O’clock and time to start class.  He was nowhere to be found.  Instead of proceeding I decided to take the lesson in a different direction.  Watching the kids type up their reports the day before, I noticed that very few knew the proper typing technique.   I drew a blown up picture of a keyboard on my whiteboard and demonstrated the proper hand positions.  The XO’s have typing software, and I set aside the first hour of class toward practicing their newly acquired skill.    For the older kids, I let them do with the last hour of class whatever they pleased.  To my surprise many continued playing the typing game.  A few students switched over to chat, but a few others explored the depths of Wikipedia.  Seeing the kids independently choose to practice typing, or read articles is a wonderfully reassuring feeling.  It shows that they really are thirsty to learn, and it’s an honor to provide them with tools that can quench that thirst.<o:p></o:p>

I wanted to go out of Grand Goave with a bang, I wanted to give the kids something that they would remember.  I definitely did so at Delmas 28 when I did my rocket lesson, and I wanted to give Mission of Hopes students a similar experience. Thursday I explained the basics of rocketry.  I lead with gravity, talked about the vinegar and baking soda fuel, and then went into aerodynamics.  I had the kids draw up some designs on paint so they could get a better idea of what we would be building Friday.  Many struggled to work to overcome the touchy paint software, but I went around and helped get everything in working order.  In the end we had some wonderful designs. A couple of students finished very quickly and agreed to design a new one even better.  I let them be and came back 10 minutes later to discover that they had copied a picture of the Columbia Spaceshuttle from their offline digital library, and pasted it into paint.  I appreciated the resourcefulness and congratulated them on their designs.  They even added their own artistic touches.  <o:p></o:p>


Friday came and it was time to turn these students into rocket stars.  All the supplies were in order and I distributed them to the two teams.  The kids opened their XO’s and used their schematics as reference.  The older kids worked especially well together and were efficient with all their resources, the younger kids not so much.  The teams wrapped up and added their finishing touches.  We went into the graveled area next to where we held class and I prepared the fuel.  The teams formed a circle around and eagerly awaited their flights.  We shot off one rocket after the other and the kids cheered with delight at their successes.  <o:p></o:p>


The day came to an end and I said my goodbyes to the class.  Friday was my last day teaching in Grand Goave and I truly will miss the students of MOH. These 3 weeks have meant a lot to me and not just because of the lessons I have taught.  Grand Goave gave me the chance to really get to know a group of kids, some on a very deep level.  Last week I introduced you to my friend Johnsley.  He is a 14 year old boy who aspires to be both a pastor and a doctor.  He has decent English skills, and he and I talked a lot and became very close.  He stopped by the beach house on Saturday so that we could say our final goodbyes. Tuesday I gave him an English bible and an English to Creole dictionary.  He left me with a letter that he wrote thanking me for being his teacher and his friend.  It’s something that I will cherish forever. Below is Johnsley with his rocket design. I wish him and all of his classmates the best of luck. <o:p></o:p>

<o:p>
</o:p>
Tomorrow I head back to Port-au-Prince to do some teaching and server repair at Cazeau.  It has been an absolute pleasure to teach here in Grand Goave, but there is still plenty more work to be done at plenty of other schools.  I look forward to teaching and making more friends along the way.<o:p></o:p>

Hang on,<o:p></o:p>
Sean   <o:p></o:p>

    <o:p></o:p>

by Sean Collins (noreply@blogger.com) at October 25, 2014 08:15 PM

October 24, 2014

Nancie Severs

My Favorite Bangkok Toddler Activities — Bangkok, Thailand


Bangkok, Thailand

I had been following the BKKKids Facebook Page (from the USA) for months now. I have been recommending toddler appropriate Activities to my kids in Bangkok, for my 2 year old grandson. I found the Saturday story times at the Neilson Hays Library, very convenient for them, and I have seen great advice for nappy rashes etc.; I have learned where to find a good children’s dentist, hair-cutteries, kids furniture, or particular toys. And I have seen a successful emergency blood drive to collect an unusual blood type for a “BKKkids Mom.”

When I finally got to Bangkok to visit my grandson, I planned to try out some of the BKKkids resourceful suggestions firsthand! I’ll write about our favorite 3 excursions here.

Terran was 26-27 months when I visited &amp; my kids were living in the Silom Rd JTC area. Terr’s parents are very busy working folks but Terr is lucky to have a wonderful nanny, “Z” and I was lucky to have her too! We first checked out the National Science Museum branch at Chamchuri Square.

It’s located on the fourth floor of Chamchuri Square, on Rama IV not far from the Thai RedCross &amp; Snake Farm. Chanchuri Square is a relatively small shopping mall at Chulalongkorn University. The Chula bookstores are located there and you’ll find a good selection of children’s books in English - bargain tables too. The mall is pram friendly and has child friendly eatery options too. The museum is contemporary. It is inviting and not large and has simple hands-on exhibits demonstrating principles surrounding probability, magnetism, and physical forces, among many others. There is also a skeleton and fossil exhibit, including a small mock excavation pit. The Lego display had elaborate models constructed by local students and was great fun to look at. Best of all for a 2 year old, is the play area for kids. It had a puppet theatre, giant lego style building blocks, lots of educational toys, floor space, tables and chairs, computers. Best of all, this clean air conditioned educational playground is free to all. It’s open Tuesday - Sunday, 9:30 AM to 4:00PM.

Terr and Z and I got there early, found a nice place for breakfast and headed up to the Science Museum play space. We had to distract Terran to get him to leave, several hours later, when it was past lunch and nap time.

We visited in November, before the protests reached this area. So do check first and avoid Chulalongkorn University if it is an active protest site.

One Saturday, Z took us to the Bangkok Farmers Market and we liked it so much that I let BKKKids know about it. I was astonished to find this modern all organic Farmer's Market with so many creative "cottage industry" vendors. The tasting opportunities were fun and you are sure to find a healthy tasty lunch there, along with goodies to take home.

It's held once a month on the last Saturday of the month at K Village Sukhumvit Soi 26 in the mall with the Villa Market. On the morning we were there, there were gardening and cheese-making lectures, lots of healthy organic food, and some yummy sweets too. There were ponies for petting and pony rides, and a great little playground for the kids, complete with bouncy houses for the energetic ones!

My hands down favorite activity with Terran was our outing to the “Turtle Mountain Temple.” I found this quiet garden oasis with turtles to feed, listed as a Hidden Gem on the BKKkids website. We tried to follow the instructions from the website to get there. That was an interesting adventure but a challenge with a two year old. I’ll describe our efforts to find the Wat and then, I’ll make an easier suggestion for how to find this wonderful and unusual utopia in Bangkok.

Here’s the link with the info on the website: http://www.bkkkids.com/activities/wat-p rayoon-turtle-mountain/

Z, Terran and I took the commuter Riverboat from Saphon Taksin to the Memorial Bridge stop. We did not bring the stroller because we thought it too difficult to take on the boats. The instruction to walk across that huge bridge was really daunting with a toddler &amp; probably unsafe. I speak a little Thai and asked where we could get a cross river boat. I understood that there was a ferry across the river to Wat Galanyah. We walked along the river and passed signs that said we were at the Bangkok Flower Market. It was late morning and not very active but we did see lots of fruit and vegetable stalls and larger warehouses too. After about ten minutes and more inquiries, we found a restaurant with a dock and got the boat. But Wat Galanyah was not the Wat with the turtles. I had seen the photo of the white Ayuthia style Stupa at “Wat Prayoon” on the BKKkids website and looked up river for that. We needed to walk another 10 minutes (longer with a 2 year old and no pram,) back towards the Memorial Bridge to find the riverfront entrance to Wat Prohm. If you say Wat Prohm, people will understand you.

To my surprise, we walked along the river on a Bangkok Bike Path. I have never seen a riverfront bike path in Bangkok and wow, this is a beauty. It’s on the Thon Buri side of the river and I know it goes from the Memorial Bridge to Wat Galanyah, where we walked. I do not know where it starts or ends, or how long it is, but I intend to find out on my next trip to Thailand, when I don’t have a pramless two year old along.

Finally, from the riverfront, we entered Wat Prohm, and walked past its school. We found a vendor for water and juice etc. And across from the Stupa, we found the entrance to the “Turtle Mountain” Garden. There was a donation table where we bought a bowl of sliced bananas for the turtles, and some fish food for the koi.

Oh what an enchanting garden spot. Like a true botanic garden, there are signs identifying the more unusual plants. The stone mountain is exquisite with its spirit houses and Buddha figures. The moat surrounds the mountain and the garden paths allow you to walk around the entire island. And the turtles! They are big, beautiful substantial creatures. Terran was a little afraid at first but you can see from the photos that he soon fed the turtles himself. The turtles eat the skewered bananas. Don’t use the fish food unless you want to feed the pigeons.:)

We sat entranced for at least an hour. It was quite the memorable adventure to get there; a commuter boat, a walk through the Bangkok Flower Market, a cross river boat, and a riverfront bike path. But we found a utopic oasis in Bangkok, like a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. How would I go again, if I am taking kids? Starting on the Bangkok side of Maa Nahm Chao Praya I would take the riverboat to the Memorial Bridge and then get a taxi to take me across the bridge to Wat Prohm. Tell the driver that the Wat is on the right side, at the bottom of the bridge. Turn right into the parking lot by the white Stupa. Simple. Ask your driver to meet you in the parking lot at a designated time, for a ride back to public transportation or home. (It’s not easy to get a taxi near the Wat.) From Thon Buri, take a taxi to the base of the Memorial Bridge and turn left into the Wat Prohm driveway/parking lot.

Now I’m home in snow-covered New Hampshire USA, missing my little boy and remembering my Bangkok adventures. To become part of the BKKkids FB community, “Like” their page here:
https://www.facebook.com/BKK.Kids and go to the BKKkids website here:
/http://www.bkkkids.com
Thank You BKK KIds! What a terrific resource you are and a wonderful community we have become!

October 24, 2014 07:50 PM

Bangkok Hotels & Shopping & Eating — Bangkok, Thailand


Bangkok, Thailand

Where I stayed
Anantara Bangkok Sathorn


I stayed at the beautiful Anantara Bangkok Sathorn Hotel for 2 weeks this trip. This is the longest that I have been in Bangkok consecutively and I really liked the 6 star comforts at the Anantara. When I arrived in late October, the hotel was had a low occupancy rate and was very quiet. Then the flooding hit Bangkok in earnest. This hotel is in a safe area and will be one of the last to flood. I moved Noah, Aor and baby Terran into a gorgeous, spacious and bright 2 bedroom apartment here for the first week because of the threat of flooding, particularly as described in the media. We all enjoyed the beautiful and quiet pool and modern gym! A big plus is the free wireless, internet tv in the rooms and use of the computers in the business center.

Each day, more Thai families affected by flooding moved in, until the hotel was at 110% occupancy! The lobby became more crowded and the driveway and parking was jammed with cars that guests were protecting from the flooding in other areas of Bangkok. I heard stories of waist high water in homes and chest high water in the road and feel very sad for the Bangkok residents who have experienced the flooding. I must say that the Anantara manged the crowd very well. They added staff and were always available, pleasant, friendly, and attentive.

The location works fine once you figure it out. Taxis are always available, the BRT steps are at the driveway, and is10 Baht and 1 stop to the BTS at Chong Nonsi, and the convenient City Viva Mall (small) with the terrific western style Villa Supermarket is just a 3 minute walk away.

I loved staying here and would do so again. But because the occupancy rate is now so high, that the room price has increased. I have my last 3 nights in Bangkok booked there as I prepare for the long journey home, and look forward to returning to this very lovely hotel.

Some good eats:
Best food best selection for all palates: Siam Paragon Food Hall and Gourmet Supermarket:

Restaurants:
On a Sunday afternoon, my son took me to Indigo, a fine French restaurant / bistro on a Soi off Convent Rd near Sala Daeng in Bangkok last week. The dinner menu is quite expensive, not by western standards, but in Bangkok. But Indigo has 2 set prix fixe menus at lunchtime. For 350 BT + service and tax (about $15 US.) you can choose and entree and appetizer or dessert. My kids had a steak and I had a beautiful sea bass dish. Everyhting was delicious, and the atmosphere of the old elegance in a wooden Bangkok shop house is lovely. We had a baby and stroller with us, and were welcomed, and he slept through our lovely lunch! Tablecloths and Cloth napkins in Bangkok? Unusual Elegance! (2013-14 update this is still a good recommendation!)

Old Standby: Fuji Restaurant, an upscale Japanese food chain restaurant can be found in most shopping malls. It has a huge menu and I always find many good choices there. The set menus come with entrees and noodles, soup and salad. The garlic fried rice and sauteed mushrooms are very tasty also. Although I eat picky vegetarian and cooked fish, my kids tell me that they like the steak set, and the sushi too. I go to Fuji often!

Near the Anantara Hotel - City Viva Wine Bar &amp; Crepes
We had several good meals at The Wine Bar (2013 it's CLOSED) at the City Viva on Naradiwat just near the Citty Villa Supermarket and the Anantara. While the service was spotty, good sometimes and not as good others, the pizza and pasta dishes are excellent. I liked the fettecini with wild mushrooms in a light cream sauce, And the pasta with sea bass that was in a very light tomato sauce. The restaurant was out of bread last night, they said because of the nahm dtuam, the flooding. Upstairs on the 3rd floor of the City Viva small mall, is a Creperie with a few meal crepes on the menu and an extensive dessert crepe menu. Fresh made french crepes like in Paris! Best

Window Shopping: Siam Paragon and Gaysorn
Best Selection of Things for Baby: Paragon Department Store
Best Overall Shopping Experience: MBK
Best Shopping for Technology: Pantip
Best Fashion Shopping: Platinum Center in Pratunam near Pantip
Best Hand Wrought Stainless Contemporary Designs: Kun Sri Tong's booth near the BTS and Riverboat dock at "Saphon Taksin" BTS stop.
Best Night Market and Evening Riverside Dining &amp; Shopping Experience - Asiatique

PS: (For Robin D added 7/2012) I re-ordered the photos today to show
you the Best Stainless Gifts: Sri Tong's beautiful bowls and platters
are identical to those sold at Simon Pearce. Sri Tong has a booth on the
street by the BTS and Riverboat dock at Saphon Takson. You can usually
find her after 11:00 AM. 2013- If you miss Sri Tong, there is a nice
shop at Asiatique with a good selection. BUT Sri Tong's is from her own
factory...and it's my first choice! Please tell her I sent you! Need a
wedding gift? Perfect.

Several weeks after my stay at the Anantara, I returned to Bangkok from Vietnam and Cambodia. You can click on the trips link to the right and check my Vung Vieng Village OLPC XO Laptop Project Journal to follow my adventures there.

Upon my return I booked the new Novatel on Silom Rd (near to the Holiday Inn, Jewelry Trade Center and my son's house and factory,) through Agoda. Those who read my blog entries know that I am rarely critical. I would not stay at the Novatel Silom in this location again. While it is a new hotel and very clean, tThe room design is not even adequate fro 1 person. The bathroom is downright weird as the toilet room door opens to completely block the tiny sink area. The shower will get the sink area floor wet if you are not careful, and it does not dry quickly. I use the pool when it is nice, to cool down on a hot day, but this pool overlooks the busy highway and is noisy with no umbrellas forshade. The staff was not particularly friendly, and while I chose the Novatel for location, its other patrons made me feel I was staying in a brothel. Oh well!

So I moved to the Courtyard Marriott to recover for a few days and became familiar with a neighborhood I did not previously know. The Courtyard Marriott was very comfortable and standard to what we expect from my favorite western brand hotel! Unlike the Novatel, my room was spacious and tthe bathroom was fine. The pool was pleasant and the fitness center was well appointed and stocked with fresh towels and infused water. The staff went above and beyond to greet the guests personally and help with any need. While I did not love the restaurant, this Bangkok hotel, around the corner from The Four Seasons Hotel was a 5 star experience for a 4 star price.

It's located walking distance (or use the hotel tuk tuk) to the Rachadamri BTS station, and also is a short walk to Soi Lang Suan by the Chitlom BTS and The Central Department Store. Soi Lang Suan is lovely with its green trees. You will find a large Starbucks there, other restaurants and a good Chang Massage shop also. From here, I am traveling to Sukhothai and after that to Khon Kaen. I left a bag at the Courtyard and will retrieve it when I return to Bangkok next week.

And now, I am back in Bangkok from my trip to the Central Heartland of Thailand. I am back at the Anantara Sathorn for my last days here this trip. I booked a fw nights through Agoda. The rates have fallen to well under $100 per night and most of the Thai families affected by the flooding appear to have left. I have really enjoyed staying here!

Be sure to check out the miscellaneous photos of Bangkok that I have included here!



October 24, 2014 06:12 PM

Thailand - Tourist Do's and Taboo's — Sukhothai, Thailand


Sukhothai, Thailand

Where I stayed
<divclass> Sukhothai Heritage Resort


'I am at the lovely Sukhothai Heritage Resort tonight on my way to visit Katherine, her family and her rescued elephants aat BLES. I have to pinch my self that I will really be at this close to heaven place once agin tonorrow. This will be my 4th visit to Boon Lott's Elephant Sanctuary www.blesele.org Kat's passion for her cause and her determination to succeed in the face of many obstacles to her work both amazes and inspires me. A visit to BLES is a special a treat that will be with you for years. Do plan to visit f you can!

The detour to Sukhothai in central Thailand that you will make to get to BLES, will also enable a visit to the exquisite Sukhothai Heritage Park and museum complex. The larges Buddha in all of Thailand is in the park, Wat Si Chum, and all of the 8th - 12th Century Sukhothai era temples are better preserved than the temples in Cambodia at Angkor Wat. The lovely Sukhothai Buddhas pare complate; i.e., they still have their heads and unlike Angkor, the parks are uncrowded. Trust me, the sights here in Sukhothai both BLES and the historical parks are off the beaten path and both are a big traveler's treat.

I have stayed here before and the Sukhothai Heritage Resort does not disappoint. Tonight, browsing through the information in the room, I found a really good write-up on the Thai Religion and Culture, and also on some Visitor's Do's and Dont's. Oh how I wish I had my scanner here.. I have re-typed and paraphrased some below, and added some tips of my own.

Back to the Title subject: Tourist “Do’s and Taboo’s"

Religion and Culture
Thailand is primarily a Buddhist country. The local Temple (called a Wat) is a very important part of each community and is cared for by the community. Early every morning you will see Monks walking around with large Alms Bowls. It is at this time that the community members offer food and other living essentials that provide for the Monks day to day needs.

The “Wai" is a sign of greeting or mutual recognition and respect. It is probably one of the most beautiful greeting gestures (and I think it is more hygenic than a handshake also.:) The Wai is made by raising both hands, palms joined, to a position lightly touching the body, somewhere netyween the chest and the forehead. There are complicated rules for the giving and receiving of a Wai and Thai people may be terribly offended if foreign guests do not properly return a Wai. This is especially true of Thai’s outside of the cities who might be unfamiliar with foreign culture. “A little try and a smile goes a long way.”

There are basic rules or etiquette which foreign visitors should observe in order to avoid cultural “faux pas” which may offend local sensibilities.

1. Most Monks don’t mind being photographed but it is polite to ask first and respect their choice. Please be discreet when photographing people praying or performing religious ritual. I love to phtograph Monks, Temples and Shrines, and spirit houses. I'll add my favorites to this Entry so it will change. If you enjoy this type of photo do check back from time to time.

2. Also some Thai’s and especially Hill Tribe folks in the north, do not like to be photographed because of their belief about the photo image taking part of their soul along with it. Most Thai people love to have their photo taken and to see it on the digital camera screen. Please ask them first. If someone wants a little money for a photo then use your judgment &amp; if you want to pay or if you think that the few coins will buy rice that day, by all means pay them. Or don’t take the photo. It is kind and appreciated to ask first and you will usually be rewarded with the interaction.

3. Overt displays of physical affection are deemed immodest, inappropriate, and not within the Thai culture. Nudity should be avoided in public places &amp; topless sunbathing deeply offends even if Thai’s don’t tell you this.

4. Anger will get you nowhere in Thailand. If you are soft spoken and deferential you will earn great respect. Losing one’s temper causes Thai’s great distress. A patient dialogue and a smileto even the most frustrating problem is the best approach. Take it easy and do not ruin your day.

5. The head is the most important part of the body. You should avoid touching the head and hair of Thai people. The feet are the lowest and are considered unclean. Avoid putting your feet on the table and also try not to point with them.

6. Women should avoid touching, even accidentally, a Monk. This is strictly taboo.

7. Pointing with fingers is acceptable only for objects or animals, but not for people.

8. “Please do not crook your finger, clap, snap yor fingers. hiss or whistle to attract attention of waiters or other people.” The acceptable gesture in Thailand is to extend one arm in front of you with your palm down; beckon with your fingers pointing down.

9. Always remove your shoes when entering a Temple or private home.

10. When visiting Temples, please dress respectfully. No shorts, sleeveless shirts, short skirts or swimwear. In Bangkok, women without sleeves will be turned away or given the opportunity to rent a shirt.:)

11. Buddha images are sacred and should be treated with the greatest respect.

12. The Royal Family is held ibn very high esteem. Thais will not tolerate any disrespect towards or about members of the Royal Family. Actually, criticism of them is against the law in Thailand and offenses are subject to strict penalties.

I find that Thai people are peace loving, fun loving' riendly and often interested in meeting foreigners. They will forgive many unintentional indiscretions. They really appreciate any effort you make to understand their culture. Smal efforts along these lines will enhance your travel experience.

I'm off to BLES - Boon Lott's Elephant Sanctuary in the morning for what promises to be a wonderful adventure!














October 24, 2014 06:01 PM

October 20, 2014

Sean Collins' Haitian Voyage

First Impressions

So following my last post I spent four more days in NYC.  I met my mom and my girlfriend Michelle at our hotel in midtown and we spent a lovely couple of days enjoying the city.  The first day we met up with Michelle's wonderful friend Sam and saw Cinderella on Broadway, starring Keke Palmer. It was a great time despite the fact that Ms. Palmer failed to take up our tweeted offer of Steak and Shake after the show... The next day Michelle and I toured around Central Park and I made a fool out of myself on a row boat.  We saw a few other sights, broke into a few places, and overall had a terrific day.  The taxi ride to the airport was heavy as I said my last goodbyes before I sent the ladies on their way back to Michigan. 

After the airport it was off to the Maker Faire to set up our booth.  Maker Faire is a Do It Yourself/Innovator conference that takes place biannually in San Francisco and New York.  I arrived well before the rest of our organization and had some time to explore.  I saw some pretty incredible things.  A 3D printed car was one of the featured products.  Pretty cool to think one day I might be able to download a car.  Finally I met up with the rest of the group and we began to lay out our stuff.  Immediately people recognized the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) XO's that we had set up. Everyone was really intrigued and enthusiastic about what we were doing with the OLPC hardware, and they gave us nothing but support.<o:p></o:p>

Maker Faire ended and I spent the next two days running around NYC lugging my 10 laptops and Haiti bags with me.  Nick was kind enough to let myself and others crash at his place, he was both a wonderful host and tour guide.  My flight was set to leave at 6am so I cut my final night short and set my alarm for 3:30am.
  <o:p></o:p>
After tossing and turning for a short while I finally fell asleep, when I woke up I was groggy and confused.  I hadn't the slightest idea what time it was, but I didn't hear my alarm yet.  So I walked over to the nightstand where my phone was sitting and hit the home button... 5:03.  Realizing I slept through my alarm, I sprang into action rounding up all my bags. I ran to the nearest intersection and flagged down a taxi. As I sit down I look up at the screen and see that the time is now 5:07. My flight leaves in 53 minutes.  I'm 15 minutes away from the airport.  After managing to hit 3 lights in a row red I began to be overwhelmed with the reality that I might miss my flight.  The driver seemed to be in no hurry and the minutes seemed to be racing by.  Finally he dropped me off, I paid, and ran across the street to check my bag.  Being a flustered sleep deprived mess I waited in line for a bag check with the wrong airline... I finally pulled it together and found where I was supposed to be.  The gentleman checking my bag saw I was in a rush and cruised through the procedure.  He even chased me down when I walked away without my boarding pass.
One benefit to a 6am flight is that nobody wants to be on a 6am flight.  The line for security was short and I blew right through it to my gate D-1.  The closest possible gate to security.  I boarded the plane and let out a sigh of relief at 5:40am. Miraculously I made it and I was on my way to Miami for my connecting flight.<o:p></o:p>

Landed in Miami and had no problem finding my connecting gate.  Upon arrival I was approached by a surfer dude like figure with dreads and a polo.  He looks at me smiles and says "are you Sean?"... Baffled I reply "Yes? Do I know you?"  "I'm Sam, the director of Haiti Communitere." (the place that I'm spending my first 10 days in Haiti).  We chatted for a while about Unleash Kids before we boarded the plane and took our seats.  <o:p></o:p>
I read for most of the flight and before I knew it we were starting our decent.  We touched down and the un-boarding procedure began. 

Walking towards customs we were greeted by a Haitian band playing traditional music.  Customs was a long wait but went off without a hitch.  I proceeded to baggage claim and once again loaded everything up for one last haul.  Now most of you have not been to the airport in Port-au-Prince, so it'll be hard to convey the utter chaos that it is.  Upon leaving baggage claim you are greeted by a flock of taxi drivers who will all tell you that they are there to pick you up.  They will reach for and often times grab your bags and try and lead you to their car.  I explained about 15 times that I had an arranged pick up and that I am calling my driver.  Finally I reached Bourdeau and he took me to his car.  We raced off to Haiti Communitere.  Taxi drivers in New York are crazy, but they do not begin to compare to the taxi drivers in Haiti.  Cutting people off and driving on the wrong side of the road to do so is something that I'm slowly getting used to. We safely reached our destination and my home for the next week or so.  My first day in Haiti was spent inside the compound of Communitere, resting from my long day, and preparing for the day that was ahead of me.  <o:p></o:p>

The next day I met with Jeanide, a younger Haitian woman in probably her mid 20's.  She would be my tour guide for the day.  We walked down to the main road and tried to flag down a taxi to go up the mountain.  After about 10 tries we finally found a willing driver and we loaded into his van.  The vans contain 4 rows of seats and comfortable can fit 12.  18 isn't all that uncommon though.  After hoping from one taxi to another we finally arrived at the Digicell office where I was to receive a SIM card for me to use and later donate to a school for their server.  After some confusion on what plan to use we met with Jeanide’s friend Thompson who is an employee at Digicell.  He was very helpful and even took us to lunch after we finally settled everything<o:p></o:p>

For lunch I was presented with 3 options.  Chicken, beef, or vegetables.  Chicken.  We sat around the table waiting for our food and my attention slowly drifted to the TV in the corner.  It was the equivalent of MTV and they were playing the music video to Wiz Khalifa's "We Dem Boyz", the uncensored version.  I appeared to be the only one phased.

The food arrived and I chowed down, I was then brought the nectar of the gods.  Ji ceri.  Cherry juice.  There are no words precise enough to even begin to hint at how amazing of a creation ji ceri is.  I won’t even attempt to try.<o:p></o:p>

We finished up our meal as someone changed the channel to Planet of the Apes.  Jeanide was very interested and asked me if I had seen it.  I explained the plot to which she replied with a soft giggle.  She then began to watch and did not stop laughing the entire time.  I had no idea that apes destroying San Francisco was so hilarious.  <o:p></o:p>

Thompson paid for lunch for which I expressed my gratitude, and Jeanide and I headed back to base camp.  On our final taxi back we packed into a van of 18 people.  I was sitting across from a younger Haitian man who seemed to love the sound of his own voice.  He looks at me and says “Blan (word to refer to white people)…. (Haitian gibberish that I couldn’t quite understand.)” I told him I don’t speak creole well and he began to address me in English.  “Why don’t you rent a car man? You’re taking up all the room in this taxi.  You’re American, I know you have money.” I laughed and explained I’m a college student working for a non-profit and that I can’t and don’t need to rent my own car.  He then went on some long rant in creole about America and white people.  We finally arrived and I said goodbye to my Haitian heckler.  Jeanide and I walked back to Communitere and had a good laugh about how that guy was full of himself and loved his own voice.  <o:p></o:p>

Finally I was back at my place and free from all the hustle and bustle of the city.  I spent the rest of my day reprogramming laptops and talking to people back home.  All and all my first couple of days have been a great experience.  I’ve truly gotten to see some great sites and I’ve met some people along the way, some were wonderful, and some not so much.  If you actually read all this I’m thoroughly impressed.  I didn’t realize I had so much to say.  Tomorrow I will be teaching music with Jeanide at Croix des Bouquets, and Saturday Fefe and I will teach music at Delmas 28.  Should have a lot to write about and I should have another post by Sunday.  <o:p></o:p>


Hang on, <o:p></o:p>

Sean  <o:p></o:p>

by Sean Collins (noreply@blogger.com) at October 20, 2014 12:55 PM

Delmas 28

Thursday night I contacted Jeanide and the two of us decided that it would be best for me to teach at Croix des Bouquets on Tuesday of the next week.  That gave me another day to review my music lesson plans before I headed to Delmas 28 early Saturday morning.

Later in the night Kate, my roommate at Commuitere, asked if Friday she could borrow a laptop to show her friend she works with in Cite Soleil.  I had a few to spare so I lent her one that was fully charged and updated.  Kate is a wonderful woman doing some wonderful work in one of the poorest places in Haiti, I wish her all the best.


I woke up Friday, ate a quick breakfast and got to work.  The goal of the lesson was to teach the children about music and sound.  What does a sound wave look like? How does wavelength and frequency of a sound wave relate to pitch? And of course another goal was to learn by doing. As I begin to jot down some notes I see Kate has returned with a Haitian friend, they came in sat down and booted up the XO.  A few hours later I went to see what they were up to.  I climbed out of my mosquito net and headed across the rocky gravel road. As the sound of clanging rocks rang out from under my feet, the man looked up and sent me a big smile.  He introduced himself as Afu.  He is a father of four in Cite Soleil and he has a knack for technology.  Only using the XO once before that day, he had managed to master the music making software and had constructed his own beat.  He was a self proclaimed rapper and even spit some bars for me in English and Creole (that's slang for rapping).


After saying goodbye to Afu, I got back to work.  I constructed a set of three sound waves out of pipe cleaners to model what a sound wave looks like.  I then wrote out some classic beginner piano songs for the kids to play and practice later on in class.  After finishing my prep work I spent the rest of the day applying to internships for next summer.  A very productive day. I finally reached a point where I could work no longer. I rubbed my eyes, closed my computer, and laid down to try and get some rest before my first day of teaching.  I've always pictured myself teaching and it was a strange feeling knowing that the moment was just a few unconscious hours away.  


I had no problem waking up Saturday morning.  Excitement was running through my veins as I hopped in the cold outdoor shower.  I got dressed and within minutes Fefe arrived to take me to Delmas 28.  He serves as my tour guide and translator when needed.  We walked to the nearest intersection and hopped onto a Taptap, which is nothing more than a truck with benches and a roof over the bed.  Taptaps tend to seat around 12 rather uncomfortably.  About two miles from our destination we hit a traffic jam.  No words were spoken, but every last person filed out of the Taptap to walk ahead of the traffic.   Fefe and I piled into another truck and were at Delmas in no time.  


We entered the building and as always was greeted with some curious young stares.  Fefe went to find the principal of the school to unlock the laptop room, and I waited in the lobby.  I pulled out my own personal XO and was immediately swarmed by a group of kids who were anxiously awaiting my next move.  I pulled up my favorite puzzle game and taught them how to play to kill some time.  They quickly caught on and after about three minutes they had beaten the first level.  Halfway through level 2 Fefe came in and ruined all the fun.  It was time to start class.  Fefe was unable to get a hold of the principal but I assured him that we didn't need the laptops until later in the lesson so we could begin.  Fefe gave a brief introduction to the class on what we would be going over and then I introduced myself. Shortly after that Fefe's phone rang and he went to take it in the hall.  So there I was.  24 sets of eyes stared up at me awaiting my next move.  Nothing like being thrown into the deep end.  My creole is far from perfect but I managed to explain the the class that we would be talking about music and we would do some singing.  I informed them that sometimes we would have to be VERY LOUD, and sometimes very quiet.  They understood and we practiced screaming as loud as we could, and then being silent on the cut offs. They definitely enjoyed playing that game and it seemed to make everyone a lot more comfortable.  Fefe returned to our class mid-scream and was impressed at the amount of silence that followed a few seconds later.  He laid the laptops down on the desks and we continued the lesson.  I explained what sound looked like and provided a visual representation with a file I made in Audacity.  I then pulled out the pipe cleaners. The red pipe cleaner represented a low note with low frequency, the blue pipe cleaner represented a high note with high frequency, and the green pipe cleaner was in between the two.  I held up the red pipe cleaner and explained that it was a low note, I let out the lowest pitch I could muster in order to engage the kids. The all giggled and did their best to imitate. I then held up the blue pipe cleaner and explained that it was a high note, I used the little falsetto range I have to let out a raspy high note that was much more of a caterwaul.  As much as I made a fool out of myself, the kids seemed to understand.  We booted up the laptops and I had to switch a few over from English to French.  The creole that Haitians speak is french based and similar enough to that the children can follow along even though they do not speak french. The majority of the class was able to identify the lowest and highest note on the keyboard.   We then went into some basic Solfege (do re mi...).  I wrote the phrases on the board and drew a staff to correspond to it.  Instead of "ti" the Haitians insist on using "si" I obliged.  The children had no problem singing the scale, but a much more difficult time mastering playing it on the keyboard.  I went around the room and helped until each student had succeeded before moving on.  We did ascending and descending scales, followed by thirds, a basic warm-up that I picked up from my high school choir teacher Mary Rashid.  This took a while to get down on the keyboard but the great thing about music is it's just pattern recognition, a universal trait.  The kids who struggled in the beginning were able to become proficient in a very short time.  I then wrote a song on the board they all know and love. The French call it Frère Jacques, but the Haitians call it Tonton Bouki, which translates to Uncle Bouki.  It's a nonsense song but every Haitian knows it.  They had no problem incorporating the solfege so we began practicing it on the piano.  I had some truly amazing students and by the end everyone in the class had played it for me at least once.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GuL4YpKcX0M here is a link to the final product, as well as a picture of some of my star pupils. 



Sadly Delmas came to an end and I said my goodbyes to the children until next week.  I went back to Communitere and had an early night so that I could make it to church at Cazeau, where I would temporarily drop the laptops that I brought down with me.  


Fefe's fancy new phone that I gave him the day before was an hour off so he arrived an hour later than I expected him.  Luckily he did, because mass in Haiti is not like the mass I remember back home.  Church began at 8am.  We arrived at 9 am, and mass was dismissed at a little after 11.  Aside from struggling to keep up with what was being said, I got to display my singing voice once again. The church sang songs in both Creole and French.  The people seemed not to notice the difference but it became very apparent when all the sudden we were conjugating verbs. Haitians also have adopted the French/European tradition as kissing on the cheek as a way of saying hello.  I am blatantly an American and am usually greeted with a handshake.  Mass ended with the creole version of Amazing Grace, my mother surely would have been in tears.


After mass Fefe and I dropped off the laptops and I was on my way back to base camp.  I thanked him for bringing me to church and for once again being my guide.  He is a key component of Unleash Kids and his work should not go unrecognized. 


For now that's all the excitement I've had.  This week I'll be spending time at Croix des Bousquets, Silar's Orphanage, and Delmas 28.  It was great to get the first teaching experience under my belt, now I have a lot better idea what to expect from the rest of my trip.  When I'm not writing or talking with people back home, I'm undoubtedly going over lesson plans and trying to find ways to engage the kids in the material I'm teaching.  It's been wonderful so far and I can't wait to teach again soon.


Hang on,


Sean      

<o:p></o:p>


  

by Sean Collins (noreply@blogger.com) at October 20, 2014 12:54 PM

Preparation

So back in January of this year I decided to take this fall semester off to pursue volunteer opportunities.  My motivation stems from my interest in the power of information, and also the influence of technology in education. The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) mission was precisely that.  To bring laptops to every child no matter where.  As I started to surf the web and survey my options, this seemed like a great place to start.    

Back in February I contacted the people at OLPC, and was put in touch with Adam Holt.  After a few back and forth emails he introduced me to Sora, the mind behind Project Rive.  http://projectrive.wordpress.com/  After reading up on Sora's blog and seeing the brilliant work being done by her and her peers, I knew I had found the right fit for me.  The project, in short, is a designed curriculum to teach both teachers and students how to use the XO laptops as a tool for education.  But it goes far beyond that. I really do recommend that you scroll back up and click that link I gave you.  Project Rive is just one project of the greater organization that is Unleash Kids.  Due to questionable distribution methods and a failure to follow through on training and maintenance, OLPC is on the verge of dying.  Unleash Kids is the organization picking up where they left off.

After talking with Sora for a while I started my first bit of preparation by beginning to learn Haitian Creole, a language based in French, but with far different grammatical rules.  As reality set in that I would be spending my fall semester abroad, I began to look into the impact it would have on my scholarship/financial aid.

After I was bounced around a few times I ended up in financial aid where I was told that in order to keep my scholarship, I had to be a full time student... yeah.  So the solution I came up with was to take 3 independent studies, 4 credits each.  Most teachers I approached seemed bewildered by my proposal.  But I kept emailing hoping for at least one helpful person.  And lo and behold I found her.  Professor Jennifer Law-Sullivan is the Associate professor of French, and the department chair of the Modern Language department.  Right away we set up a meeting and started working out the logistics of what I would need to do in order to receive credit.  She then put me in touch with Professor Alan Epstein who is sponsoring my second independent study for International Studies.  Mark Navin helped coordinate my third independent study with Professor Mark Rigstad on the topic of Global Political Philosophy.

From that point forward the preparation has seemed to be non-stop.  Wake up, practice creole, read, go to school/work, sort of have a social life, repeat.

As time grew closer and closer to my departure date, I began to plan the lessons that I will be teaching in Haiti.  Naturally, as a physics major, I started to play with the ideas of sound, and the universe.  Space is my truest passion and it seems only natural that I share that with the people I meet.  Even as I write this post 6ish days before I leave for Haiti I continue to tweak my lessons in the hope that they will be a success.  My first workshop will be taught on September 27th in Port-Au-Prince, at Delmas 28.  The topic will be music, with the following weeks workshop on space.

The preparation has been a long road.  I'm definitely a little nervous, but mostly I'm anxious and excited to finally be doing something I truly believe can make a difference.    

Hopefully that gives you all a good idea of how I got to this point.  I'm currently in New York training with some of our IT people, and I fly out of LaGuardia at 6am a week from today.  Be sure to stay tuned as my voyage is bound to get much more interesting from here.

Hang on,
Sean

by Sean Collins (noreply@blogger.com) at October 20, 2014 12:50 PM

October 19, 2014

Sean Collins' Haitian Voyage

Grand Goave: Week Two

So week 2 ended up being a shortened school week due to a Haitian holiday.  October 17this a national holiday to commemorate the death of Haiti’s founding father Jean-Jaques Dessalines.  This definitely seemed to be a strange thing to celebrate, but it makes sense when you come to understand the Haitian affinity for the afterlife and the role that spirits play in their culture. 
<o:p></o:p>

After approaching Renee about my translator issues I was bounced back to Lex to work something out.  He assured me that if he and I talked to Mistro he would be there to help me throughout the week.  We did just that but yet again I only had a translator for one of my classes.  In Haiti there doesn’t seem to be the same sense of urgency that I am accustomed to.  This especially holds true in the laid back beach town of Grand Goave.  A lot of the people here have some serious stresses on their mind, so it’s understandable that they don’t let the day to day work load overwhelm them.  The task will eventually get done, and it’s more important to try and enjoy the ride.  This low-pressure work ethic is a widely accepted cultural norm.  As an outsider who hops around from place to place, I find this to be an incredibly difficult practice to work with.  My time here is limited, and I feel a strong sense of urgency to accomplish all I can in my stay.   My enthusiasm seems to rarely be shared, and it’s a cultural hurdle that I still struggle to overcome.  I will spend the last week again working with Mistro when he shows up.  <o:p></o:p>

This past week at school did not go as I had planned, but I definitely think I made progress.  Mistro showed up for Tuesday’s class with the older kids, and we worked primarily with Wikipedia.  I spent Monday preparing a series of questions pertaining to different articles that are featured on the preloaded software.  The articles have been translated into French.  Although very few kids speak French, the languages are similar enough to where they can read and comprehend the material.  The questions were basic, but difficult enough to where the students would not know the answer off of the top of their heads.  “What is the distance from the earth to the sun?” “What year was the philosopher Socrates born?” “What is the boiling point of water?”  Mistro and I would pose one question at a time to the class, the first team to answer correctly earned a point.  The school currently does not have Wi-Fi, but with the preloaded software the kids are still able to access a good amount of information.  The purpose of the game was to get them accustomed to this method of research, and to give them an idea of how much information they can find on there.  I truly believe in the power of information.  Their minds are not just exposed to facts, they are exposed to ideas.  These ideas can definitely excite, but more importantly ideas can inspire.  I love the power of ideas, and it was a wonderful feeling to open these kids up to a whole new world of information.  Team 4 dominated when it came to finding the answer first, but I made sure not to advance until every kid had found the answer.  It was great to see the kids excited to find the answer, and excited to show their classmates how they could do the same.  <o:p></o:p>

<o:p>
</o:p>
The next few days I was again without any translating help.  I’ve acquired a decent vocabulary in Creole, but not nearly enough to lead my own classes.  I let the kids work with their laptops independently and provided insight when I could.  Monday’s lesson plan seemed to stick, and I found that many of the students used their freedom to continue exploring Wikipedia.  I walked around and gladly helped out trying to explain some of the more complex articles that kids stumbled upon.  One student on Tuesday ended up on the Wikipedia page for Earth’s Magnetic Field.  The pictures were failing to load so I drew my own diagram and used my English and Creole knowledge to lead them through the French text.  Having my phone came in handy as I was able to look up French and Creole words that I was unsure of.  <o:p></o:p>

Thursday one of the older girls in my class was reading about Switzerland for whatever reason, she then hoped over to the page of Geneva, CERN, and then the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).  For those who don’t know CERN is an international science community based in Geneva, Switzerland.  Their major project is the Large Hadron Collider, which is a particle accelerator.  The LHC shoots particles around their 17 mile loop at near the speed of light and crashes them together in order to study subatomic particles.  I definitely did not expect to be explaining particle physics on my trip to Haiti, but you can never predict where a kid’s curiosity will take them.  <o:p></o:p>

I was also able to share my passion for philosophy with one of my students named Johnsley.  Johnsely is an undersized soft spoken 14 year old boy with a sharp mind and a decent command of the English language.  He approached me during class and asked if I would join him on the Chat app so that he could speak with me and practice his English.  I pulled out my XO and we began talking.  It started out as small talk, but then I decided to ask him what his plans were for after high school.   He proceeded to tell me about how he wants to become a pastor so that he can go all over the world and preach the good news.  He also wants to become a doctor to take care of the sick.  He’s an ambitious kid, and you can tell he wants to help people in every way he can.  We went on to talk about some basic philosophy over the course of two days, and I introduced him to the Euthyphro Dilemma and then we talked about Divine Command Theory.  I plan to leave Johnsley with an English to Creole dictionary along with a bible so that he can pursue his passions.  I wish him all the best.  <o:p></o:p>

Friday as I said earlier was a Haitian holiday so no school was in session.  I still had some students hanging around wanting to use the laptops though so I was happy to pull them out.  This caught the attention of some of the construction workers who were taking a break.  They asked if they could try one out and I let them have a go.  The two were fascinated by Wikipedia and got to reading about engineering, appropriate given their profession.  The kids worked with each other showing off all the cool things they have learned how to do on their XO’s. Here Stanley, the little boy, is being shown how to play the piano by an older classmate.  <o:p></o:p>


None of the students lack curiosity and that is something that excites me when it comes to teaching them.  It’s frustrating that I am not receiving as much help as I would like, but I don’t intend to let that discourage me from teaching in any way I can.  Not having a translator has forced me to pick up a lot of creole and has led to me interacting with the students one on one.  Through this I’ve formed some great relationships that I will cherish for a long time.  This week I look forward to strengthening those friendships and sharing as much knowledge as I am able to.  <o:p></o:p>

Hang on, <o:p></o:p>


Sean     <o:p></o:p>

by Sean Collins (noreply@blogger.com) at October 19, 2014 07:24 PM

October 18, 2014

Hinche Haiti Partners for Education

Pwoblèm pap fini

Last week I traveled to Hinche with my brother, Gregory, who was my travel companion and videographer. Our motto for the week, “pwoblém pap fini” (problems are never finished) came courtesy of our friend Etiénne. I had several objectives: Meet...

by Lisa at October 18, 2014 05:37 PM

October 17, 2014

OLPC Basecamp @ Malacca, Malaysia

More Musing: 11 months after basecamp2013@Malacca

Yesterday was Oct 16, 2014. It has been 11 months since basecamp2013@Malacca. During this period many things have transpired. To keep the momentum for Malaysian OLPC initiatives I have have been back three times to feed the seeds with the help of friends and volunteers.

The dLEAP project initiated by my schoolmates of MHS with XO laptops sponsorship are benefiting the Orang Asli (OA) children in the SEMOA farm at Tras, Bentong. This impromptu short-interview of the warden at SEMOA describe the changes she noticed over the months.  Personally, I have seen OA children use the XO laptop with high exploratory behaviors which surpass those of urban Hong Kong children that I am more familiar!

To enable more voluntarism and use of XO laptops for different communities the  mOLC  (mobile Open Learning Chest) have been field tested. Some interesting observations are reported in this KopiTiam video made over breakfast while I was back in Malacca recently. Ms Tay who coordinates this is a passionate teacher in Termerloh.


What is next?


For this year, Basecamp2014Trek will kickoff at the Penang International Science Fair on Nov 15-16,2014 with workshops and a exhibition. Sponsorship from dLEAP fundraiser YS Chua will enable three OA children to visit Penang and learn from the fair. This will be an eye-opening experience for them on the world of science and technology.


We will also celebrate XO Day as it is  9 years since the OLPC XO laptop was announced to the world on Nov 16, 2005. Basecamp2014Trek will move south from Penang where we hope to set up a physical basecamp at the SEMOA farm. The timing is perfect as it allows us to celebrate  United Nation Universal Children Day on Nov 20 with the children and for some sharing by the 3 kids after the Penang trip.

On Nov 21 UNICEF will be holding a public forum to launch the State of the World's Children report in Malaysia. Its theme "Innovation for Children" is very relevant to what we are doing and we hope to attend. It will also be an an excellent networking opportunities to meet people with similar passions.

After 21st we hope to visit more old and new sites for possible deployments. Personally when the signs are positive that Malaysian children will benefit greatly from what we do, it is time to look into how to kickstart a social-enterprise project. Our efforts need a more sustainable future in Malaysia.








by T.K. Kang (noreply@blogger.com) at October 17, 2014 09:54 AM

October 16, 2014

OLPC SF

Community Summit 2014

Great news! We're excited to announce that Turtle Art Day will be held in conjunction with this year's Community Summit this weekend! Our summit will be focused on the intersection of education and technology. We'll discuss what's going on in the One Laptop Per Child universe, as well as what other education outreach communities are doing globally. The goal is to get folks together to discuss problems, collaborate, and find solutions together.

 

If you're not familiar with Turtle Art, it's an application where students create art through programming. Turtle Art Day is a worldwide event happening throughout the month of October. Turtle Artists are coming together to teach each other and learn together. OLPC-SF is proud to be working with Sugar Labs to put together this event here in San Francisco. It represents the exploration of new spaces and media for learning beyond online, beyond OLPC. We hope you all will be able to attend. Please see the event page for details.

Note: The location is not the usual downtown San Francisco venue. Instead, we will be meeting at San Francisco State University's main campus at 1600 Holloway Ave.

by adborden at October 16, 2014 06:46 AM

October 11, 2014

Sean Collins' Haitian Voyage

Grand Goave: Week One

I arrived in Grand Goave Sunday October 4th at around 5pm via bus.  The driver dropped me off at the main intersection just over the bridge that separates the farmland from the town.  I unloaded my stuff and hopped onto a motorcycle to take me to the school.  Now I’m not a big fan of motorcycles, but if you want to get somewhere and you don’t want to wait, they are the way to go.  After some arguably illegal maneuvers by my driver, we arrived at the school/church grounds of Mission of Hope (MOH).  <o:p></o:p>

MOH is an organization run by Pastor Lexidon Edme, and his wife Renee.  They’ve been working in Haiti for a long time and have some amazing support from both inside and outside of the country.  The school teaches several hundred kids ranging from toddlers to young adults, some older than myself.  Majority of the funding comes from sister parishes back in the states, and there is no lack of support.  The school has 25 XO laptops, 40 Kindle tablets, and is currently constructing a computer lab and a dance studio.  It’s definitely a drastic change from the schools I worked at in Port-au-Prince.  <o:p></o:p>

Upon my arrival I was greeted by Renee who was the person coordinating my accommodations for the week.  We said our pleasantries and then she introduced me to her husband pastor Lex.  Lex is a formidable figure in his community and he receives tons of respect.  It’s hard to go anywhere with him and not get stopped every five seconds by people wishing to say hello or ask questions.  Lex gave me a brief tour and along the way we bumped into another Blan (Haitian word for white person).  His name is Laramie and he was accompanied by his twin daughters of about 10 years.  Laramie and his family are traveling missionaries who recently moved to Haiti.  He and his wife Amy have 4 kids ages 10-15.  They are currently working at the orphanage up the road and wanted to check out the school that some of their kids attend.  <o:p></o:p>

The tour was over and it was time for “Sunday night worship”.  Laramie overenthusiastically invited me to sit with him and I obliged.  Now I’m not religious, but at the same time I’m not anti-religion.  I was raised catholic and have no problem attending mass.  But Haitian mass is not quite like American catholic mass.  Scriptures are read, Eucharist is shared, and praise is given, but with a different sense of urgency.  Pastor Lex stepped up to the mic and delivered a sermon that conjured up more excitement than I ever remember from Father Mike back at St. William. Arms were raised towards the sky, hands were clapping, and hips were swaying as the spirit of his words fell over the room.  It was slightly uncomfortable being the only one not overwhelmed by the holy spirit, but nevertheless it was a sight I’m glad I saw.<o:p></o:p>

Mass came to an end and as a group we headed back to the house where I’d be staying.  After a 15 minute ride down a street that reminded me much of Green Lake Road, we arrived.  The gate rolled open and we pulled in.  I stepped out and took in the incredible view.  Grand Goave is an ocean town, and MOH is arguably the best place to take in the beauty of it all.  Mountains to the west, mountains to the east, and an island sits on the horizon to the north.  I dipped my feet in the water, grabbed some dinner, and then went back to my room to prepare for the week I had ahead of me.              <o:p></o:p>

Grand Goave has been a much more regimented schedule.  Wake up at 6:30, get ready, eat breakfast, make lunch, and then go to school.  From 10-11:30 I’ve been teaching a group of high school kids. Then I wrap that class up, charge the laptops, and teach a younger group from 1-2:30.  The translator the schools provided me with has been far from reliable so it’s been hard to teach drawn out lessons.  So far out of the 10 classes I’ve taught he showed up to 1.  In that one class period I did an activity where as a class we took some measurements with a homemade apparatus and estimated the size of the sun. The math was troubling for some, but we managed to work through it and by the end everyone had their own estimate. http://cse.ssl.berkeley.edu/AtHomeAstronomy/activity_03.html. The younger kids have been a much bigger challenge.  A lot of the kids just see the laptops as gaming devices.  Although they do have some educational games programmed on, they are much more than that.  With only 25 laptops it’s been a struggle every day to have one laptop per child, and to maintain order.  I fear that the lack of a translator has really been limiting the potential of my teaching abilities.  Lex has other things to worry about and doesn’t seem to take interest, his wife Renee is the more approachable of the two and I plan on working with her this weekend to come up with a better solution.  <o:p></o:p>

Despite the challenges I’ve managed to form some great relationships with the students and the staff members.  Nurse Leah was a huge help getting me acquainted with everything, and she was kind enough to let me use her Natcom 3G internet stick to upload my last blog post.  Rennot is another person who has been a huge help.  He’s the go to guy for whatever needs to be done.  Need a whiteboard? Ask Rennot. Need to turn on the electricity? Ask Rennot. Need to buy your own 3G stick so you don’t have to continue to work in the clinic in order to get Leah to let you borrow hers? Ask Rennot.  His help has been huge, and even though we can’t always work out what the other person is saying, I am always happy to see him.   <o:p></o:p>

Some of the kids have definitely been a big inspiration too.  With the class of younger kids most of them just want to play math games and take pictures.  But one kid in particular is too fascinated by the world around him to be caught up in that sort of mindless entertainment.  Dionson (pronounced Jenson) is a 13 year old boy whose bright mind and thirst for knowledge has truly amazed me.  All class he sits and reads the French Wikipedia pages.  He’s on a new topic every day and never stops asking questions.  Together we’ve explored sounds, light, the stars, the planets, force, and a few other aspects of the natural world.  After the second day of class he begged me to let him keep the laptop out a little longer.  I of course said yes and he went with me to the room where I charge the laptops.  A few minutes later one of his friends appeared and asked if he could use a laptop.  I told him he could only use one if he used it to read.  He agreed to my terms and booted up his own machine.  After about 30 minutes I had a group of 5 all laying on the carpet eagerly exploring Wikipedia.  Dionson is a brilliant young mind and I hope the other kids continue to follow in his footsteps.  <o:p></o:p>


Aside from teaching I’ve spent my time at the beach house.  Every day a group of kids will come by looking to play a game of soccer, swim, or partake in a new fan favorite which I showed them, throwing around the Frisbee.  Most the kids are pretty talented with a soccer ball, but they still have a long way to go with a disc.  I will surely be leaving some of the Frisbees that I brought with me behind for the kids to enjoy.    <o:p></o:p>

Overall Grand Goave has been a bit of a challenge.  It’s not easy to find helpful people, and it makes me appreciate the help I had in Port-au-Prince a lot more.  I will work things out with Renee this weekend and next week I have a bunch of lessons that I’m really excited about.  I’ll be exploring the concepts of gravity, pi, and I may even have another rocket lesson.  Should make for an eventful week<o:p></o:p>

Hang on, <o:p></o:p>

Sean<o:p></o:p>

by Sean Collins (noreply@blogger.com) at October 11, 2014 09:26 PM

October 07, 2014

Sean Collins' Haitian Voyage

Final Week in Port-au-Prince

My last week in Port-au-Prince was definitely and eventful one.  On Tuesday I worked at Croix des Bouquets with Jeanide and Junior.  They helped me run through my music lesson again but with a new group of children.  The first class had 28 kids and only 7 XOs to share.  We made the best of it and the children seemed to have a great time breaking away from their normal lesson plans.  In Haiti much of the curriculum is built around learning by memorization.  The students’ knowledge is assessed using tests put forth by the schools.  Hands on learning is a strange concept for most teachers, but seeing the kids engaged and excited about learning is a wonderful way to change their minds.  After the music ended I gathered some data in order to reprogram the laptops later that week.<o:p></o:p>
Thursday I was at Cazeau, which is an orphanage/church/school.  The orphanage is home to over 40 kids, I spent the afternoon with 25 of the school age kids.  I arrived at Cazeau via Taptap around 1:45.  I walked to the school and was greeted by shy smiles and curios eyes.  I sat down waiting for Dyna, and pulled out a toy I knew the kids would enjoy, a Rubik’s Cube.  The vibrant colors quickly drew a crowd of about 15 as a spun the rows and columns to show them how it works.  I passed it to my left and reached back into my bag of tricks.  I pulled out 3 juggling balls and showed off my circus training.  More kids crowded and I started giving free juggling lessons.  Most were baffled by the concept, but a few weren’t half bad.  Dyna arrived and it was time to start class, but the fun was far from over.  



<o:p></o:p>The lesson plan for the day was a science experiment.  I wanted to introduce the scientific method to the kids in the form of a very basic experiment, so that they could understand the procedures involved.  I lined up four glass bottles at the front of the classroom.  Each bottle was filled with a different amount of water.  Bottle one was empty, bottle two was ¼ of the way filled, three was ½ filled, and four was ¾ of the way full.  The question I wanted them to investigate was, “which bottle will make the lowest pitch when I strike it with a pen?” In order to find this out, I walked the class through the 6 steps of the scientific method.  1) Ask a question 2) do research 3) form a hypothesis 4) do an experiment 5) record results 6) draw a conclusion.  For the research portion I explained sound is a wave, and I explained the correlation between wavelength and pitch. The kids then guessed which bottle they thought would have the lowest pitch.  The class was divided between 1 and 4.  We then did our experiment and got our answer.  Bottle 4 had the lowest pitch.  The children then were able to draw a conclusion, no matter how many bottles, the one with the lowest pitch will be the one with the most water.  The students wrote up their work on an app called Fototoon, their work is down below.  <o:p></o:p>

Friday I spent planning for my second seminar at Delmas 28.  I promised the kids I’d be back a week later to talk about space and I couldn’t have been more excited.  I decided to do a rocket science lesson.  Definitely an ambitious idea, but one that I knew the kids would be excited about.  I went to the market the day before and picked up the necessary supplies. The most essential being: baking soda, vinegar, tape and cardboard.  The rockets were to be designed at the end of class after I went over a few basic things.  Mike, a friend from Communitere, was kind enough to help me build a launch pad and I was all set. <o:p></o:p>

Saturday arrived and I was up early making sure everything was in order.  I set up the launch sight in the driveway at Communitere and launched some practice rockets.  After a few successful launches Jeanide arrived and we were off to Delmas 28.  <o:p></o:p>

We got to the classroom and I recognized most of the faces from the week before.  A few new students piled in and we had a total of 27 eager minds.  I began the seminar by talking about gravity.  The juggling came in handy again as a way to capture attention, and also to model the effects of this invisible force.  After they grasped that concept, I went on to explain that if you have a great enough force applied to an object, you can escape the earth’s gravity.  I then showed some pictures from the Apollo missions to support my utterly unbelievable claims.  I explained to the kids that in order to make a good rocket, you need three things.  1) A strong force 2) An aerodynamic body 3) Balance.  I had them draw out the best designs they could on paint.  The kids do not have all that much experience with a touchpad mouse so some of the designs seemed not so structurally sound, but one kid in particular did a wonderful job.  His name is Matariro and I have no doubt he’s going places.<o:p></o:p>
After the computer designs were complete, I split the kids up into two teams.  Each was given one water bottle and an equal amount of both cardboard and tape.  They had 45 minutes to construct their rockets and they immediately got working.  Each rocket seemed to have 5 or 6 hands on it at all times.  Some helping to secure wings, others working on the nozzle.  What at first seemed like chaos, ended up being a fairly efficient way of working, and with 15 minutes to spare both teams were done and eager to fire them off.  We lined up and climbed the stairs up to our launch site.<o:p></o:p>

I set up the launch pad and explained to the kids that I would put an equal amount of vinegar and baking soda in each rocket.  I wrapped the baking soda in toilet paper to delay the reaction enough so that could attach the cork and build pressure.  First up was team one.  None of the kids really knew what to expect, but they were filled with anticipation as they saw me measuring out the rocket fuel.  I slid the wrapped baking soda into the vinegar mixture and secured the cork to the mouth of the bottle. All systems were a go.  As I stepped back to a safe distance I could feel that the pressure was on.  I had promised the kids that we would transform these household objects into a rocket and although I knew it was possible, I was still worried about the experiment not living up to the hype.  The pressure continued to build and so did the anticipation.  The rocket shot off into the air and flew a good 25-30 feet before touching down slightly off center from the landing sight.  Jeanide was kind enough to take a video which I have linked here.  The kids roared with excitement and I let out a hardy laugh followed by a big smile. Bringing that amount of joy to a group of kids through to power of science was one of the most rewarding and wonderful feelings I’ve ever had.  Their reaction says it all.  <o:p></o:p>http://youtu.be/iZ7zWsX6mi0 

Group 2 was up and they were confident they could do better.  I loaded their rocket with fuel and secured it to the launch pad.  This video shows them arguing over who had the better of the two flights, I’ll let you the viewer decide.  http://youtu.be/ttQCFzPpxF0    


Class came to an end as we rounded up the scraps.  The kids continued their bickering down the steps and into the classroom.  We never did pick a winner but everyone enjoyed themselves and that was more than enough.  I said my goodbyes and handed out as many high fives as I could before Jeanide pulled me out of there.  We were off to our next school at Croix des Bouquets to reprogram the software on the XOs.<o:p></o:p>

We arrived at the school to realize they had no power.  Jeanide and I met up with Junior and we took the laptops back to Jeanide’s house so we could have electricity.  We sat around talking as I updated the software two at a time.  Junior filled me in on the current political struggle and Jeanide cleaned up for the dinner we had planned.  Haiti’s former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide was back in town, and rumor has it Martelly’s people (the current president) were trying to arrest Aristide and charge him for crimes of corruption.  Whether the charges are legitimate or not is unclear but Aristide is no guiltier than Martelly or any of his predecessors.  Aristide was one of Haiti’s most beloved presidents, but ideologically he and Martelly couldn’t disagree more.  Hearing all of this gave me a much better idea of why so many helicopters had been flying over Communitere keeping me up at night.  I said goodbye to Junior and thanked him for the good talk.  <o:p></o:p>

Jeanide and I met up with Fefe and Dyna at one of the fancier bars in Port-au-Prince (it had air conditioning). We had a lovely last meal together and I thanked them for all the help they’d given me in my 10 days with them.  They made the adjustment a lot easier and I can’t thank them enough.  <o:p></o:p>
As of right now I’m writing from my second work destination.  It’s a school/church in Grand Goave called Mission of Hope.  I’ve been living with Pastor Lex and his wife Renee.  I’ve already taught a few days’ worth of classes but that will have to wait until the next post.  A big thanks for all of those who are supporting me through this.  I love the feedback you all have given me, and I’m always happy to talk.  Feel free to leave a comment, or send me and email, or reach out to me via social media.
     <o:p></o:p>
Hang on,<o:p></o:p>
Sean <o:p></o:p>
          <o:p></o:p>




by Sean Collins (noreply@blogger.com) at October 07, 2014 08:20 PM

October 06, 2014

Jim Gettys

Bufferbloat and Other Challenges

Vint Cerf wrote a wonderful piece on the problems I’ve been wrestling with the last number of years, called “Bufferbloat and Other Internet Challenges“. It is funny how one thing leads to another; I started just wanting my home network to work as I knew it should, and started turning over rocks. The swamp we’re in is very deep and dangerous, the security problem the worst of all (and given how widespread bufferbloat is, that’s saying something). The “Other Challenges” dwarf bufferbloat, as large a problem as it is.

I gave a lunch talk at the Berkman Center at Harvard in June on the situation and recommend people read the articles by Bruce Schneier and Dan Geer you will find linked there, which is their takes on the situation I laid out to them (both articles were triggered by the information in that talk).

Dan Geer’s piece is particularly important from a policy perspective.

I also recommend reading “Familiarity Breeds Contempt: The Honeymoon Effect and the Role of Legacy Code in Zero-Day Vulnerabilities“, by Clark, Fry, Blaze and Smith, which makes clear to me that our engineering processes need fundamental reform in the face of very long lived devices. Vulnerability discovery looks very different than normal bug discovery; good examples include heartbleed and shellshock (which thankfully does not affect most such embedded devices, since the ash shell is used in busybox).

In my analysis of the ecosystem, it’s clear that binary blobs are a real long term hazard, and do even short term damage by freezing the ecosystem for devices on old, obsolete software, magnifying the scale of vulnerabilities even on new equipment. But in the long term maintenance and security of devices (examples include your modems and home routers) is nigh impossible. And all devices need ongoing software updates for the life of the devices; the routing devices most of all (since if the network ceases to work, updates become impossible).

“Friends don’t let friends run factory firmware”.

Be safe.


by gettys at October 06, 2014 07:50 PM

Mike Fletcher

Back to React Learning

I wanted to get back to doing a bit of React.js, so I started converting more of the WebToys into React (from Angular and raw Jquery). It took a bit of staring at old code to remember the React way of things. There are definitely some things I need to get sorted; how to parameterize from HTML to React cleanly, for instance (so an element can specify parameters for a view, for instance); it works, but not happy with the approach so far. The form story also seems a bit broken in my usage; it seems like 20-30 lines of code just to get a basic "text/number input that updates a field on storage/model"... it's reusable, but it's not clean-feeling, and the control goes crazy when I use Chromium's debug tools with it.

Anyway, will have to do more playing with it; so far it's actually allowed a few levels of dynamism I didn't venture into with the previous implementations (e.g. making "powers ten" actually "powers N", and compressing two similar toys into the same codebase with a simple parameter). The rest of the WebToys are all linguistic (the ones converted so far are all math/numbers), so we'll see if the React approach works for that.

by Mike C. Fletcher (mcfletch@vrplumber.com) at October 06, 2014 05:45 PM

Juan Chacon Free Software & Education | El Salvador

Server Side Includes

I have a fantastic group of students in my afternoon Advanced Topics in Information Technology class this year.  Its been a long time since I've had a group with this level of skill, self-motivation, and interest.  It is going to be a fun year!

Two students are studying web page design.  They have already completed both the GDW HTML and GDW CSS tutorials, and now they are working on projects to apply what they have learned to their own website.  One of the two students, Jack, has been working on a menu bar that highlights the current page using CSS.  This led us to a discussion of the need to be able to dynamically include standard parts your website (headers, footers, etc.) across multiple pages, so that changes to these cross page components can be made in only one place. This was a great time to introduce the DRY principal in software development.

Another student in the class, Sam, who is studying The C Programming Language this semester, is also interested in system administration, and on overhearing Jack and me discussing the problem, pointed out Server Side Includes to us. I'm surprised that I've never heard of this technology before, since it provides just the kind of solution I'm looking for in terms of motivating a deeper understanding of web technologies step-by-step.  I don't want to jump into a Python web framework (even a micro framework like bottle) at this point.  I'm not a fan of PHP, though I realize that it is not a bad fit for what I'm looking for. SSI looks to be better.

Sam volunteered to explore setting up and documenting SSI.  I told him to setup an Ubuntu server with VirtualBox.  He will be delayed in doing that because he only has 32 bit Ubuntu on his laptop, so while we wait for Sam to reinstall with 64 bit Ubuntu this weekend, I decided to go ahead and document as much of this process as I could.

Setting Up Ubuntu Server in VirtualBox

Here is a screen shot showing the first stage of the Ubuntu server setup using VirtualBox:


I used 1 Gig of RAM and a 20 Gig virtual hard drive (the first option in the menu of virtual hard drive choices, VDI). I then changed the network setting to use a "Bridged Adapter", which gives the virtual machine its own network address on the host network, instead of putting it behind NAT on a 10.x.x.x. network. This makes it easy for me to ssh into the virtual server from my desktop, and for others (students, say, in a classroom setting), to ssh into it from their machines.

During the installation of Ubuntu Server, the only software package option I picked was "Open SSH Server".  I plan to install everything else I want piece by piece.

The next task is to install apache on the server:
$ sudo aptitude install apache2
As soon as that completes, I can point the browser from my desktop at the IP address of the server running inside a virtual machine that it is hosting (I don't care how many times I've done this, I always think it is cool! ;-)


 
My host machine (desktop) in this case has IP address 192.168.1.4, and the server running inside the virtualbox has IP address 192.168.1.11, so my the browser running on my desktop is connecting to the web server running on the virtual machine.

Enabling SSI

Now to get server side includes working, I followed Sam's instructions:
# a2enmod userdir
# a2enmod include
# vi /etc/apache2/mods-availiable/userdir.conf
change "IncludesNoExec" to "Includes"
# vi /etc/apache2/mods-available/dir.conf
add "index.shtml" (immediately after "DirectoryIndex"
and before "index.html")
# service apache2 restart
We now have user local directories and SSI enabled (we hope ;-).  Let's try it out. I created a public_html subdirectory in my home directory, and put two files in it, index.shtml:
<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
<head>
<meta charset="utf-8">
<title>SSI Test Page</title>
</head>
<body>
<h1>SSI Test Page</h1>

<!--#include file="success_message.inc" -->

</body>
</html>
and success_message.inc:
<p>
If you are reading this message, SSI is working... Yeah!
</p>
Now I point my web browser at: 192.168.1.11/~jelkner and:

One last thing to note is that the SSI_PSPserver.vdi virtual hard drive file can easily be copied from machine to machine, bringing all the setup with it.

I talked to Sam about what my educational motivation was for wanting to use SSI.  He quoted Nietzsche on his blog post for that day to let me know he totally understood what I was getting at:
"He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying."
-Friedrich Nietzsche
I'll say it again, this is going to be a fun year!

by jelkner (noreply@blogger.com) at October 06, 2014 01:29 AM

October 04, 2014

Shandong Computer & Learning Club

美科学家模拟猫脑结构研发新型计算机(转载http://tech.sina.com.cn/d/2010-04-20/14494084110.shtml)

http://www.sina.com.cn  2010年04月20日 14:49  科技日报

  本报讯 据美国物理学家组织网报道,猫能够比超级计算机更快速有效地识别出人脸。据此,美国科学家正在模仿猫脑的工作原理建造一台计算机,其方法和自然建造大脑一样,使用了完全不同于传统计算机的算法。

  美国密歇根大学电子工程与计算机科学系助理教授卢伟之前已研发出了模拟大脑突触的忆阻器电路。现在,他又前进了一步,证明了其研发的忆阻器能够连接传统的电路,并支持生物系统的记忆和学习过程,该研究出版在最新一期的《纳米快报》网络版上。

  卢伟表示,目前最复杂的超级计算机是拥有14万个中央处理器的“庞然大物”,并且需要不断给它提供能量,尽管如此,其运行速度仍然比猫脑慢83%。

  在哺乳动物的大脑中,神经元通过突触相互接触并借以传递信息。最重要的是,突触能够根据神经元产生的电信号的强度和时间点来记住这些通道,因而让大脑具有记忆能力。

  传统计算机的逻辑和记忆功能被设置在电路的不同部分,并且每个计算单元仅仅同电路上的一些“邻居”相联系,因此,传统电脑采用线性模式逐条执行代码,只能完成一些由有限变量组成的简单任务。而包括猫在内的许多动物的大脑能同时执行多个任务,因而能快速识别出人脸。

  卢伟用一个忆阻器连接了两个电路。他已经证明,这套系统具有“时序依赖型可塑性”,能够记忆和学习。“时序依赖型可塑性”指当神经元相互关联时,具有连接起来后变得更加强大的能力。科学家认为,“时序依赖型可塑性”是哺乳动物的大脑形成记忆和学习的基础。

  卢伟表示,下一步是建立一个更大的系统,让一个两升容器大小的机器获得超级计算机拥有的复杂性,最终目标是研制出一种具有革命性的机器,其不仅能够学习和识别,还能够做出复杂的决定,并且同时执行多个任务,效率远比传统计算机高。

  卢伟说,模拟猫脑的计算机应该具有猫的智力,如果任务是在一间堆满家具的房子里,找到从前门通往沙发的最短距离,传统计算机能够完成这个任务。但如果有人移动了沙发,传统计算机就无法作出相应调整,找到一条新路,科学家希望模拟猫脑的电脑能够做到这一点。(刘霞)

<wbr>

by OLPC shandong PROG at October 04, 2014 12:59 PM

[转帖] 科学发现:大脑结构与宇宙惊人相似

科学发现:大脑结构与宇宙惊人相似 




《纽约时报》刊登的2张照片,一张是老鼠的脑细胞(左),一张是宇宙(右)。早期宇宙中星系互连关系,和大脑神经元相互连接,几乎无法分辨两张图之间的不同,大脑细胞与整个宇宙拥有一样的结构。(网络图片) 

如果有人告诉你大脑是个小宇宙,宇宙是个超级大脑,你能理解吗?会相信吗?2012年11月16日,《自然》杂志在“科学报告”专栏发表了一篇研究论文,证明宇宙的成长过程和结构与大脑细胞的生成过程和结构几乎一模一样。 

无独有偶,杂志编辑和作家朱迪思?霍珀(Judith Hopper)和她的先生迪克?特瑞西(Dick Teresi)合着的《三磅宇宙》(Three Pound Universe),把人脑比作三磅重的宇宙。在书的第33页,有两张图片,一张是大脑皮层,一张是宇宙暗物质,这两张图片也是惊人的相似;说明大脑就像一个微缩宇宙,而宇宙则是一巨型的大脑。



在《三磅宇宙》的第33页,刊登着一张大脑皮层图片。(网络图片)




用加拿大法国夏威夷望远镜得到的宇宙暗物质图片,此图也《三磅宇宙》中的第33页。(网络图片) 这些研究发现至今仍被不断报导与关注,似乎预示着科学领域的巨大突破。如果这些发现最终被完全证实,那将彻底改变人们对宇宙、对人体、对生命以及对人和宇宙之关系的认识。 网络不同但自然生长动力相同 《自然》杂志的研究报告显示,某些未知的基本规律可能支配着多种或大或小的系统,从脑细胞之间的电信号传递,到社交网络的扩充,乃至宇宙的膨胀。该研究报告的作者之一、美国加州圣地亚哥大学的物理学家德米特里?戈里尤可夫(Dmitri Krioukov)说:“不同的网络,如互联网、大脑和社交网络,其自然的生长动力是一样的。” 研究人员开发了一个计算机模拟程序,将早期宇宙分成尽可能小的单元,其中时空的份额比亚原子的粒子还小。模拟将所有的量子(或称节点)联系在一个巨大的,具有因果关系的天体网络中。 随着模拟的进行,宇宙的历史中加入了越来越多的时空单元,星系中物质的“网络”连接由此也不断增长。当研究人员将宇宙历史与社交网络,或者大脑回路增长的方式对比时,发现这些网络都以相似的方式扩展:它们会协调相似节点与诸多连接节点之间的关系。 研究还发现,大脑中的连接有着极其高的组织化,大脑的结构就像是城市的布线网格,神经元遍及各个角落。 戈里尤可夫说:“对于物理学家来说这是个即时信号,意味着自然的运作中还有某种人类尚未知道的东西。”很可能在这些不同的网络之中,有一些未知的规律在支配它们运行。“研究结果提醒我们,也许是开始寻找这些规律的时候了。” 

全息照片论证宇宙的不可分性 17世纪,微积分的发明者、著名的哲学家兼数学家、物理学家莱布尼茨(Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz:1646~1716),认为,“超自然”的事物预见并创造了这个物质的世界。莱布尼茨对微积分的发现促使在200年之后科学家提出全息论。曾与爱因斯坦一起工作过的伦敦大学理论物理教授大卫.波姆(David Bohm:1917-1992)是现代全息理论之父。 

什么是全息呢?比如一张照片,里面有一个人像;如果我们把这照片切成两半,从任何一半中我们都能看到原先完整的人像;如果我们再把它撕成许多许多的碎片,我们仍能从每块小碎片中看到完整的影像。这样的照片就叫全息照片。 

全息论的核心思想是,宇宙是一个不可分割的、各部份之间紧密关联的整体,任何一个部份都包含整体的信息。全息理论很好地解释了超距作用的原理。大卫?波姆曾阐述说,独立存在的事物展开来所看到的秩序之下其实存在着一种不可分的整体的有序性。这一整体与各个展开的个体同时共存。所以宇宙就如同一张巨大的全息图,它的各个部份即包含与整体之中,而整体亦包含于个体之中。身体中的每一个细胞都隐含这整个宇宙。

韩国人郑润在其《微尘中的无限宇宙》一书的“分形宇宙论”中写道,莱布尼茨发表了叫做单子论(Monadology)思想。那是一种宇宙由无数个单子(monad)构成,每一个单子里有一个完整的宇宙。即一个粒子如果在其里面又包含着一个完整的宇宙,那么,那个宇宙会由更小的无数个粒子构成,而在那每一个粒子里面又会有其他更小的宇宙。 

斯坦福大学的脑神经学家卡尔?普里布拉姆(Karl Pribram)研究脑部是如何储存记忆的,他被全像式结构模型所吸引。许多研究显示,记忆的储存不是单独地限于特定区域,而是分散于整个脑部。在1920年代的一连串历史性的实验中,脑部科学家卡尔.拉甚利(Karl Lashley)发现不管老鼠脑部的什么部位被割除,都不会影响它的记忆,仍旧能表现手术前所学到的复杂技能。 

然后在1960年代,普里布拉姆接触到全像摄影的观念,他相信记忆不是记录在脑神经细胞中,或一群细胞中,而是以神经脉冲的图案横跨整个脑部,就像雷射绕射的图案遍布整个全像摄影的底片上。 佛道学说超前揭示宇宙之奥秘 迪帕克?乔普拉(Deepak Chopra)是《时代周刊》20世纪世界最有影响力的100位人物之一,也是杜克大学医学中心的教授,他在《赫芬顿邮报》的博文“你的大脑就是宇宙”中,也引用了《自然》杂志的这个研究。 

乔普拉提到了古老的印度宗教的宇宙观——“因为是最小的,所以也是最大的”(As is the smallest, so is the greatest)。乔普拉说,如果我们承认每一个系统都是由反馈回路、动态平衡和持续的自我组织驱动的,那么现代科学的认识就又完全回归到了这一古老的智慧。 随着越来越多的宇宙的真实被发现和证实,人们会发现道家所说的“人体是一个小宇宙”和佛家所讲的“一粒沙里有三千大千世界”是更高的科学。而更令人深思的是,在没有现代科学的几千年前,以佛道为主的修炼界是如何知道宇宙奥秘的呢?<wbr>

by OLPC shandong PROG at October 04, 2014 12:44 PM

October 02, 2014

One Laptop per Child

Finalizó exitosamente proyecto Transformando del municipio de Chía en Colombia

Del original publicado por ANSPE.

<figure class="clearfix field-item even">Captura de pantalla 2014-10-02 09.26.24</figure>

Transformando es un proyecto de innovación social que consistió en empoderar a los niños y a las niñas de  las familias de la Red Unidos de Chía como agentes de cambio social. Este objetivo se logró a través de una estrategia integral que incluyó la distribución de un computador portátil XO de OLPC (One Laptop per Child) a cada niño y/o niña participante, el uso de videojuegos para el cambio y la participación virtual y presencial en espacios de aprendizaje en los que los niños y las niñas aportaron al proceso de superación de la condición de pobreza extrema de sus familias.

Este proyecto se gestó entre la Agencia Nacional para la Superación de la Pobreza Extrema- ANSPE, a través de su Dirección deInnovación Social, One Laptop per Child -OLPC y la Alcaldía de Chía, quienes se aliaron para poner en marcha esta iniciativa orientada a generar un alto sentido de apropiación comunitaria por parte de los niños, las niñas y sus familias, pertenecientes a la Red Unidos del municipio de Chía.

El proceso inició con una etapa de ideación a partir de un reto de innovación: ¿Cómo empoderar a los niños y las niñas como agentes de cambio usando las herramientas tecnológicas para ayudar a sus familias a superar su condición de pobreza extrema?

Luego se avanzó en la etapa de los prototipos, donde se diseñó una metodología multiestrategia y se desarrollaron contenidos digitales a través de videojuegos con el enfoque de ”juegos para el cambio”[1].

Posteriormente se realizó la fase de pilotaje, a la que se unió Chía, un municipio de avanzada, cuyo lema en el Plan de Desarrollo es ser un territorio inteligente e innovador; además de una Zona Libre de Pobreza Extrema.

En este momento crucial se pusieron en marcha las estrategias planteadas con las familias de la Red Unidos del municipio, con el objetivo de empoderar a los niños y niñas de 7 a 13 años como agentes de cambio dentro del proceso de corresponsabilidad familiar para superar las trampas de la pobreza.

Fueron nueve (9) meses de trabajo con los niños, las niñas y sus familias en los cuales se desarrollaron múltiples encuentros presenciales que involucraron a todos los participantes en la estructuración de proyectos que harían realidad los aprendizajes adquiridos. Igualmente, durante la ejecución del proyecto, los niños y niñas jugaron los tres videojuegos diseñados especialmente para facilitar el aprendizaje de logros relacionados con las dimensiones de nutrición y dinámica familiar.

En este contexto también se incluyó el uso de mensajes de texto y de un portal web que permitió la participación y la interacción de los niños, las niñas y las familias. Otra de las actividades a destacar fue el desarrollo de cinco videojuegos por parte de los niños beneficiarios en el marco de los talleres de programación, realizados con el acompañamiento de expertos en el tema.

¿Qué logramos?

Gracias a este proyecto se logró generar una cultura de uso de las nuevas tecnologías al interior de cada hogar. De la misma manera, se obtuvieron importantes aprendizajes relacionados con la dinámica familiar: la importancia del diálogo,  no lastimar físicamente, compartir más tiempo en familia, comunicar lo que se siente y lo más relevante, las familias conocieron las rutas y estrategias para prevenir y enfrentar el abuso sexual infantil.

Respecto a la nutrición, los participantes adquirieron mejores hábitos de manipulación de alimentos y aumentaron el consumo de frutas y verduras.

Una vez finalizado el proyecto también se generó por parte de los beneficiarios, un mayor interés en acceder a la oferta cultural, recreativa y deportiva del municipio. En este contexto los niños y niñas actuaron como agentes de cambio, pues por primera vez en el municipio de Chía se desarrolló un Concejo de niños y niñas en el que presentaron sus propuestas, las cuales se materializaron, en cuatro (4) proyectos: 1. El gran día: espacio de juego e integración familiar, 2. Ruta temática en bicicleta: pedaleemos en contra del maltrato infantil; 3. Fútbol Convivencia: campeonato para promover la convivencia en el fútbol y 4. Nutriteatro: Títeres para la nutridiversión.

Sin embargo, para las familias el resultado más importante fue la  Unión Familiar que se generó a través de estrategias que mejoraron la comunicación y la resolución de conflictos en el interior del hogar. Este proceso fue facilitado por el uso de las tecnologías que aumentaron las posibilidades para compartir y aprender en familia.

Cabe resaltar que se logró un nivel de participación en los encuentros presenciales, del 73% en niños y niñas, y del 64% en los padres de familia, con un 94% de permanencia de las familias en el proyecto.

¿Qué aprendimos?

Hay muchos aprendizajes por retomar y difundiruno de ellos es la apropiación comunitaria como clave para la sostenibilidad de los proyectos sociales. No solamente se trata del importante impacto que tiene el trabajo con los niños y las niñas para el proceso de superación de la pobreza extrema, sino también la incidencia que genera el uso de las tecnologías para democratizar el acceso al aprendizaje.  Un ejemplo de ello es que los niños se convirtieron en maestros de los adultos para el acercamiento a la tecnología.

El juego desde un entorno digital (videojuegos), y un entorno físico (la lúdica en los encuentros de aprendizaje), conectó a los participantes de todas las edades con los objetivos del proyecto generando co-responsabilidad y apropiación comunitaria, aspectos claves para la sostenibilidad de los proyectos sociales.

¿Qué sigue?

La Alcaldía de Chía, a través de la Secretaría de Desarrollo Social, decidió dar continuidad al proyecto como una estrategia que permite promover la participación de los niños, las niñas y las familias Unidos.

Finalmente, pensar en el escalamiento como fase siguiente, implica retomar las lecciones aprendidas de esta experiencia, llevarlas a otros contextos que estén en el camino de convertirse en Zonas Libres de Pobreza Extrema y potenciar estrategias que rompan círculos viciosos de la pobreza desde la participación de los niños y las niñas.

PARA MAYOR INFORMACIÓN

Video documental del proyecto:

<iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" class="__youtube_prefs__" frameborder="0" height="357" id="_ytid_79560" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/oEKTaIg4Dxw?enablejsapi=1&amp;autoplay=0&amp;cc_load_policy=0&amp;iv_load_policy=1&amp;loop=0&amp;modestbranding=0&amp;rel=1&amp;showinfo=1&amp;playsinline=0&amp;autohide=2&amp;theme=dark&amp;color=red&amp;wmode=opaque&amp;vq=&amp;controls=2&amp;" type="text/html" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="584"></iframe>

Página Web: http://www.transformando.gov.co/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ChiaTransformando

Casos de éxito (blog): http://transformandoxo.wordpress.com/

SugarCamp Chía: http://app.eltiempo.com/#colombia/otras-ciudades/en-chia-crean-videojuegos-para-superar-la-pobreza/14263236

CONTACTOS:

AURA ESTELA MORA MONTERO

aura@laptop.org

Tel: 3123215851

One Laptop per Child

JUAN FELIPE YEPES

juan.yepes@anspe.gov.co

Tel: 3102541339

ANSPE- Centro de Innovación Social

 

by mariana at October 02, 2014 02:43 PM

Mel Chua

Unlock challenge: raise $1024 for The Ada Initiative, support women in open tech/culture, and unlock more open-licensed “programming learning styles” material!

Last year, I wrote a post asking people to donate to the Ada Initiative and support women in open technology and culture. I said:

We change the world with millions of tiny patches… our world of open technology and culture is built one patch, one line, one edit at a time — and that’s precisely why it’s powerful. It brings billions of tiny, ordinary moments together to transform the world. If we teach it for our code, we can preach it for our giving. If you’d buy me a drink, or treat an open source newcomer to dinner, send that $3-$20 to the Ada Initiative tonight. –August 30, 2013

Why do we need to do this? Well, being a woman in open technology and culture is like riding a bike on a street made for cars, where rain and dirt get kicked into your face, and you are constantly, painfully aware that if you have any sort of collision with a car… the car will win. Yes, this is happening in our world, to our friends and to our colleagues; it’s happened to me personally more times than I care to remember. The farther you are from the straight white male difficulty setting, the rougher the terrain becomes.

And quite honestly, we’re busy. I’m busy. You’re busy. This isn’t our job — we have so many other things to do. I mean, we’re all:

  • remixing music
  • playing with code
  • writing science fiction
  • co-authoring open content articles
  • redesigning user interfaces
  • <insert your favorite open technology and culture activity here>

And guess what? There are so many people who want to join us. So many people who want to help us do all this work, but don’t, because they know that work — the good work — is likely to come with a lot of really, really awful stuff, like this sampling of incidents since last year (trigger warning: EVERYTHING).

The less time women spend dealing with that stuff, the more time they have to help us with our work. And the more people will want to help us with our work. I mean, would you want to accept a job description that included the item “must put up with demeaning harassment and sexual jokes at any time, with no warning, up to 40+ hours per week”?

Making our world a good environment for all sorts of people is, in fact, our job — or at least part of it. The folks at the Ada Initiative have made supporting women in open tech/culture their entire job — supporting it, supporting people who support it, and basically being the equivalent of code maintainers… except instead of code, the patches they’re watching and pushing and nudging are about diversity, inclusion, hospitality, and just plain ol’ recognition of the dignity of human beings.

They want to support you. With better conference environments, training workshops and materials, and really awesome stickers, among many other things. (Did you know that the Ada Initiative was one of the first woman-focused tech organizations to actually say the word “feminism”?)

So please, donate and support them, so they can support you — and me, and all of us — in supporting women in open tech/culture.

Now, my own contribution is a bit… sparse, financially. I’m a grad student earning less than $800 a month, and I’m waiting for my paycheck to come in so I can contribute just a few dollars — but every little bit helps. And there’s another way I can help out: I can bribe you, dear readers, to donate.

Remember that “active vs reflective” learning styles post I wrote in August? Well, there are 3 more: sensing/intuitive, visual/verbal, and global/sequential. I’ve got them all transcribed here and ready to go. And if we reach $1024 in donations to the Ada Initiative under the Learning Styles campaign within the next week, I will release them under a creative-commons license.

What’s more: the first 3 people who donate $128 or more to this campaign and email me their receipt will get a free 1-hour Skype call with me to discuss their personal programming learning styles, and will be featured as case studies on one of those three posts (I’ll link to your website and everything).

Donate to the “learning styles” campaign for The Ada Initiative now!

by Mel at October 02, 2014 02:30 PM

October 01, 2014

Sugar Digest / Walter Bender

Sugar Digest 2014-10-01

Sugar Digest

1. September was an exciting month. We held the first Sugar Youth Summit in Montevideo, organized by Daniel Francis and Jose Miguel Garcia and generously hosted by ANEP. The event featured a day-long symposium and series of workshops, including ones on Turtle Art, Butia, and how to write a Sugar activity. One teacher who attended the Turtle Art workshop exclaimed that she could not believe the progress she made.

The event was attended by youths from Uruguay and Paraguay and educators and developers from as far away as Nicaragua and Colombia. We had an Argentine contingent as well.

The symposium and workshops were held on Software Freedom Day. Given the number of Python programmers in attendance, it occurred to me that we should petition the city of Montevideo to rename itself Monty Python (after whom the language was named) for Software Freedom Day each year.

The day before the symposium Gonzalo Odiard, Mariana Herrera, Jose Miguel, and I visited a school for children with special needs. As a result, during the code sprint that followed the symposium, we wrote three new activities that have their content and user interface tailored to the school’s population. Lorena Paz from Argentina, also in attendance, resurfaces a number of issues around accessibility that we will consider in the coming months as well.

Coincident with the weekend of hacking was a robo-Sumo contest at FING. It was a good opportunity to spend time with Andres Aguirre and Alan Aguiar of Butia fame and to recruit some new talent. Several of the more competitive kids joined us in the workshops. They took a special interest in Turtle Blocks 3D, one of the Google Summer of Code projects that is coming into its own.

Gonzalo and I also got a chance to meet with a group of teachers convened by Jose Miguel at his office at ANEP. These teachers are engaged in various project-based learning initiatives across the country. Really good work — utilizing the computer as a tool to enhance authentic inquiry by the children. I look forward to continued interactions with them.

2. At the workshop, Martin Abente presented the initial plans for Sugar 104. (Martin has generously offered to be the release manager.) The new features under consideration can be found at 0.104/Feature_List.

We’ll be discussing these features in an online meeting on 2 October at 13 UTC. Please join us on irc.freenode.net #sugar-meeting.

3. I’ve been working on polishing up the Turtle Blocks 3D code over the past few weeks. There are a number of improvements from where we (Anubhav and I) left things this summer. Notably, the interface between Turtle Blocks and Blender is much richer. You can export .OBJ files from Turtle and import them into Blender and export .OBJ files from Blender and import them into Turtle. Currently I am working on adding a 3D cursor, which I designed and rendered in Turtle Blocks 3D itself. See http://github.com/Anubhav-J/turtleart.git for a preview.

4. I’ve been working on a new activity similar to the Portfolio activity that is geared towards reflection. Like Portfolio, it draws upon Journal items that have been starred. It also allows the user to create reflections unrelated to any Journal items. The presentation is quite different from Portfolio, which is modeled after a slide show. Reflect is more like a stream, similar to the news feeds in Facebook and Google+. The stream supports comments and attaching media, and it can be searched by #tags. A preview is available at http://github.com/walterbender/reflect.git. Feedback most welcome.

5. It is time to begin preparing for the annual Sugar Labs Oversight Board election (AKA SLOBs). Four (4) seats are open (due to staggered seat terms) for election / re-election to the Sugar Labs Oversight Board for 2013-2014, those of Daniel Francis, Gonzalo Odiard, Adam Holt, and Claudia Urrea. Please let me know if you are interested running for one of our board seats and also, please add your self to the candidates’wiki page. Also, since only members receive ballots, please be sure to sign up for membership by following the instructions in the wiki. Finally, we need help running the election itself. Please contact me (or Luke Faraone) if you are interested in helping.

In the community

6. Several of us will be in the Bay Area for the Google Summer of Code summit in late October. In conjunction with that event, we’ll be holding a code sprint to look at the collaboration stack.

7. The next Turtle Art Day event will be a workshop at Prospect Hill Academy in Somerville. Caroline Meeks is hosting the event. I’ve been busy making Sugar-on-a-Stick USB keys to give the kids. (I’m using Ruben Rodriguez’s Trisquel TOAST image, which has an up-to-date copy of Turtle Blocks.)

We are also planning a Turtle workshop in San Francisco in October.

Tech Talk

8. Lionel Laské recently announced the fourth version (0.4) of http://sugarizer.org Sugarizer, a taste of Sugar for any device. Sugarizer reproduces the main features of Sugar in HTML5/JavaScript. It is available from a browser or as an Android application. Lionel presents Sugarizer in a talk at SugarCamp Paris.

9. Sebastian Silva and Laura Vargas recently announced that > 20000 children are now using Sugar Network. Tip of the hat to Aleksey Lim who has been working diligently behind the scenes on the project.

Sugar Labs

10. Please visit our planet at http://planet.sugarlabs.org.

by Walter Bender at October 01, 2014 05:23 PM

Path Education, Pakistan

September 29, 2014

OLE Nepal

Exploring faraway land in far west

This was my second visit to Bajhang. The first one was about three months ago where we went to train the teachers from 10 different schools on using laptops and implementing the ICT based education. This visit was intended for the further enhancement of the teachers’ skill towards integrated teaching via in-school training. In addition [...]

by Bibek Maharjan at September 29, 2014 11:18 AM

September 28, 2014

Path Education, Pakistan

Hakuna Matata Trek to Kilimanjaro Summit

You can see this 9 minute video that captures the highlights of the trip to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. See the school banner raised there

http://youtu.be/Lrv4cmL_8dQ

 

 

by kishwer at September 28, 2014 09:07 AM

September 19, 2014

Path Education, Pakistan

Rahnuma makes it to the top of Africa

SAM_1042 (6)

Aslam Aziz, Barry Ryan, Bushra Farooqui and Saba Raza, carried Rahnuma Banner to the Summit of Mount Kilimanjaro on 15th of September 2014, after a gruelling final climb.

Welldone guys for carrying our message and holding it high!

by kishwer at September 19, 2014 09:44 PM

One Laptop per Child

The award-winning documentary film, WEB, will have its global release next week!

Captura de pantalla 2014-09-19 11.33.12
We’re excited to announce that the award-winning documentary film, WEB, will have its much anticipated global release in partnership with Social Media Week next week!

The film features OLPC Founder, Nicholas Negroponte and chronicles children in remote villages in the Andes Mountains and Amazon Jungle gaining access to XO laptops and the Internet for the first time. It is a poignant embodiment of the theme of Social Media Week’s global conference, “Reimagining Human Connectivity.”

<iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" class="embedly-embed" frameborder="0" height="329" scrolling="no" src="http://cdn.embedly.com/widgets/media.html?src=http%3A%2F%2Fplayer.vimeo.com%2Fvideo%2F106111815&amp;src_secure=1&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fvimeo.com%2F106111815&amp;image=http%3A%2F%2Fi.vimeocdn.com%2Fvideo%2F489110302_1280.jpg&amp;type=text%2Fhtml&amp;schema=vimeo" width="584"></iframe>

 

Over the course of the four day conference, WEB will be screened in 7 cities around the world, kicking off a global release of the film on online platforms like iTunes and Amazon.

As part of Social Media Week, the film will be screened in Berlin, Johannesburg, Miami, Mumbai, London, Rotterdam and Rome, exclusively for conference attendees.

The film will be released simultaneously online for those who can’t attend but wish to take part in this exciting global conversation about access to information, new forms of community and collaboration and the connected world we are creating together.

Those interested in seeing WEB can purchase passes to attend social media week at socialmediaweek.orgview the film online at http://bit.ly/WebTheFilm or visit webthefilm.com for information about hosting their own local screening.

Website – WebTheFilm.com
Twitter – @WebTheFilm
Instagram – @WebTheFilm

Photo credit: @WebTheFilm

by mariana at September 19, 2014 04:04 PM

September 17, 2014

OLPC SF

OLPC San Francisco Community Summit 2014 - Call for Proposals

Call for proposals is now open.

http://www.olpcsf.org/CommunitySummit2014/proposal

This is a proposal submission for an *online* summit.  Each accepted proposal will be organized to run online via Google Hangout. You will need a Google (gmail) account and a computer with a webcam, microphone and speakers (or headphones) for this. Multiple people will present in a session (approx. 2 to 4) so keep that in mind. Think of it as a conversation between the presenters where "viewers" get to watch live via Youtube. Viewers will participate via chat. The session will also be recorded for viewing on Youtube later.

To see an example of this format, take a look at http://summit.ubuntu.com/uos-1406/meeting/22284/introduction-to-lubuntu/

http://www.olpcsf.org/CommunitySummit2014/proposal

by sverma at September 17, 2014 07:52 PM

September 16, 2014

Nancie Severs

In Loving Memory of My Mom — Jacksonville, FL


Jacksonville, FL

Sometimes When it Rains it Pours. On a bright sunny day, I do pretty well keeping my attitude positive and balancing the “cancer” treatment needs and side effects with my regular activities. Then, last Saturday afternoon, September 6, 2014 my Mother, Beverly Stein Goldstein died unexpectedly in Florida. http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/timesu nion/obituary.aspx?n=beverly-stein-gold stein&amp;pid=172392276

A few hours later, Mark and I left for Jacksonville. Later, when I spoke to Mom’s dear Rabbi Lubliner after the Sabbath ended, he asked whether my doctors approved my travel. I replied, I didn’t ask them. I’ll be as careful as I can to avoid infection and illness, but I’m coming.

Mom’s health had been declining over the 6 years after my Dad died. Her biggest problem came from back and hip and knee pain from osteoporosis and previous fractures. The pain impacted her mobility to the effect that during the past year, Mom could no longer walk. In the past couple of months, transferring her from her bed to chairs to get up or go out had become an ordeal requiring at least 2 helpers. She was unhappy. When I called, I would ask her how she was, and she would say, “my back hurts. My back always hurts.” The goal: to keep her as comfortable as possible had not changed, but as the medications required to do this increased her lucidity declined. On Saturday when Mom died, Lynn &amp; a caregiver was with her. They had helped her into her comfy chair. And they watched her take her last breath. Mom was blessed with a quick and easy death, and her daughter was there to reassure us all that this is how she passed.

This is a long entry. Please understand that I am including the details, photos and text of our talks about Mom primarily for our family in Thailand. Jewish burials occur quickly and Noah, Sumalai and Terran could not possibly have gotten here from Bangkok before the service. I encouraged them to wait and come when we can enjoy their company, perhaps over the winter holidays. Feel free to share this entry link with other far away family and friends.

The funeral was on Monday afternoon at Mom’s synagogue followed by the graveside service and burial. She and Daddy both would have been very proud of the handsome family they created. Blessed with four children, 10 grandchildren, and 1 great grandchild, it is the natural order of things for us to bury our parents (and not the other way around.)

At the synagogue service, after Rabbi Lubliner’s meaningful words about Mom, my sisters and I read our own eulogy:

Nancie:
Our Mother didn’t do old age so well. She embraced the challenges of her pain and mobility issues courageously, but those last few years do not tell the story of who Mom was. In her younger decades, our Mom lived with enthusiasm. Her professional and personal activities touched many and blessed our family with interesting intellect and wonderful friends.

Born in Baltimore the beloved only child of Ira &amp; Faye Stein, Mom moved with her parents to Jacksonville before primary school. The story I’ve heard is that just as Prohibition ended my Poppa Ira joined Uncle Joe and his brothers for their new business, Southern Wine &amp; Spirits. Mom would tell us, quoting her father, “Alcohol is for selling, not drinking.” The young Stein family embraced their new home city and quickly became involved in the Jacksonville Jewish Community.

Bevy thrived living first in Riverside and later on Lakewood Road, in the “new Southside.” As her parents both came from large families, Mom had many first cousins, and was close with all of them throughout her life, turning them into her surrogate siblings.

Mom loved animals and her own horse, named Buddy, a cocker spaniel named Peachy, and bunny rabbits. As an adored only child, whatever Bevy wanted Bevy had. The love of animals stayed with her, and at one time she had as many as eight dogs. In more recent years, she got her beloved poodle Mazel certified as a Therapy dog so she could bring him along with her to volunteer at River Garden and at the Baptist Hospital Healing Library.

When I went through my own horse phase, I said, but you had Buddy, why can’t I have a horse? I never got the horse, but all of her grandchildren enjoyed riding a large rocking horse that she bought for them. It sat prominently in the living room, and was named, of course, Buddy.

From the time Mom was 7 years old until she married my father, she spent every summer at Camp Louise, a Jewish girls camp in the Cacoctin Mountains near Baltimore. When she was away from home she wrote her parents newsy letters about her life, often. Every one of them was signed, Your devoted daughter, Beverly. She made forever friends easily and when I was 10 years old, Mom’s camp friends, Gloria &amp; Ethel would drive us up to camp, singing songs they wrote as counselors about the cute Camp Airy boys &amp; Fort Ritchie soldiers of their summers past.

In high school Mom persuaded her parents to send her off to school so that her school year would be more like “camp.” She excelled at Highland Manor, a private high school in New Jersey, and matriculated to Goucher College near her many Baltimore aunts uncles and cousins.

She was at Goucher when her closest Jacksonville girlfriend Grace Kramer (later Leitman) wrote her “Bevy you must come join me at University of Florida.” UF had just admitted women and Grace was in its first class. “There are so many smart and handsome guys down here.” So Mom decided to do her “junior year abroad” at UF. She joined with Grace and her new lifelong friend Joyce Glicksberg as a founding member of the UF AEPhi Jewish Sorority Chapter. Mom was a smart cookie. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa in the first UF class of women, no easy feat, and she met my father!

Billy Goldstein was a Jacksonville boy. He was a little older than Mom as he attended UF on the GI bill after serving in Europe &amp; North Africa in World War II. Mom was smitten by the smart, tall, dark and handsome man, and they were married in 1950. Daddy, a newly minted lawyer joined Uncle Maury forming Goldstein &amp; Goldstein and they settled in Southside comfortably near both sets of parents.

We grew up on Waterman Road, conveniently right next door to the Fleet family, who we called Aunt Margaret and Uncle Joel. Joel was our pediatrician that made house calls. With four lively Goldstein children, he had to come a lot, but he didn’t have to come far.

At Hendricks Avenue elementary Mom was the “go to’ volunteer. Room mother, field trips, Patrol Boys, Teachers of Tomorrow, she led them all. Her stints at Mervyn’s long dance recitals lasted years. She always told her tall and sometimes clumsy daughters how wonderful we were. Birthdays were always a big production, with signs and elaborate birthday cakes and parties that included all our neighborhood friends.

We spent much of our summers at Beauclerc County Club, on the site where the JCA now stands. Just like Lynn, Mom taught all of the children of her day to swim. Summertime also meant beach time. My parents often rented an apartment in Neptune Beach for a week or so, where Mom would enjoy the surf and sand with us. The love of the beach remained with her all of her life, and after we were grown, she and Dad realized their dream of having a small apartment at the beach for summer weekends. I don’t think she counted on having quite so many children and grandchildren come to crash their vacation getaway, but she gamely cooked breakfast for everyone. We knew not to argue with her about hats and sunscreen, and no one went out on the beach without them. I don’t think we dare stop now.

Janet:
Mom was a liberal thinker who believed in equality for all. She drew a great deal of satisfaction from her work, helping underprivileged students get a foothold in the working world. We are proud that after the 1960’s race riots in Jacksonville, Mayor Hans Tanzler appointed our Mother to his hand-picked Community Relations Commission to address the challenges of integration and repairing race relations in our then fractured city.

It may surprise you to know that that open-mindedness stayed with her, even during the last few years. A few years ago, mom and her dear friend, Sylvia Lubliner, started treating me to a member's subscription for Players by the Sea at the beach where they also had a subscription. I would drive, and the three of us would enjoy the play, and then a vegetarian dinner together at our favorite Thai restaurant.

Players by the Sea is a small community theatre known for pushing the limits and producing plays that that promote cooperation, openness, and inclusiveness. The plays are usually a little avant-garde—especially for Jacksonville. I wasn't always sure how mom would react, but nothing fazed her, and our dinner conversations after the play were always enlightening.

In the fall of 2010, the first play of the season was 'The Full Monty'. I always made arrangements for mom and Sylvia to sit in the front row so they wouldn't have to climb the stairs. During the last scene of the play, Mom and Sylvia were less than 20 feet from the front of the stage when the four male actors completely removed their clothes and stood proudly naked in their full glory. Later, at dinner, I asked mom if she was uncomfortable with the ending of the play, and she replied, "Why would I be? Nothing I haven't seen!"

When we saw Reefer Madness the following season, Mom and Sylvia spoke about some of the challenges of raising children in the 60's and 70's. Don't worry, Rabbi - I won't give away any secrets I've learned from your mom about your teenage years. Mom asked some questions, I shared some stories, and mom eventually said - "I guess maybe all that stuff that ya'll did was just part of the times. I still don't know why you needed it, because the music was fun, even without any reefer."

Sylvia, I know we will miss having mom with us this season at Players by the Sea, but you and I will still have our Sunday matinee dates. We'll dedicate this 5th season of plays together to Mom, and at dinner, after we toast with our wine "that was made for selling, and not for drinking," we'll be sure and toast mom again at the end of the meal with a decadent desert - probably chocolate - mom's favorite.

When I first mentioned adopting a child, mom wasn't sure it was smart for her single daughter to become a mom, and of course she reacted with all her anxieties of "what if...what if... what if?". What would others think? Oh My!

But, when she listened and realized I was serious, and passionate, she opened her eyes and heart to rethinking her stance. As soon as Mom saw the first photo of Ilan, she quickly changed her mind and embraced her youngest grandchild and loved the idea of having another baby to hold.
Even though Mom stayed here in Jacksonville while I traveled to Russia to get Ilan, we both felt that she had made the journey with me. Mom was always such an amazingly supportive grandma and loved all the kids, each in their own special way.

As Rabbi said, Mom was a whirlwind of parental activity and remember, - there were four of us and only one of her – and we were not able to clone her. The only way that she was able to be the amazing mom that she was is because of our other mother, Berrie. For all of our growing up years, Berrie was the one who left her family at home alone for long hours each day, so she could be with us, and thus mom was able to do all the volunteering, working full-time, and be the super-mom she tried to be. We cannot mourn for mom, without mourning for our other mother, Berrie, who we miss each and every day.

We all know that it was Lynn who organized and cared for Mom’s every need during her final years. Lynn, as these last years got harder, we all know how your full-time job with Mom became more difficult too. There is no doubt that Mom knew how much you loved her and did everything and anything to make these last few years less painful and lonely for her since Daddy died.

Lynn:
Being the baby, Mom always teased that the reason I was here was because my dad had to prove himself one more time after he had major surgery. Mom always referred to her kids as 'my son and my three girls'. I was the third daughter but she wanted a second son. Looking back over the last few years, I guess she was lucky that she had me.

For those of you who knew my mom, you knew she had a good heart, and reached out to people. She always enjoyed being with her friends, whether playing mahjong or volunteering. Just last week she had a dinner gathering with a group of friends who she didn't get to see that often.

She loved to help others achieve their goals, just like she did during her time as a career counselor. She formed a deep connection with her caregiver, Ruby, who moved in over six years ago. Even though Ruby spoke very little English when she met Mom, she had a great deal of empathy and understood Mom and her needs. Mom prided herself in teaching Ruby English, and so they finally had that ability to communicate as well, although their bond went beyond words.

She always pushed everyone to be the best that they can be. I have inherited that trait from her, and during her final years, I pushed her ***********tinue to work at her physical therapy, even though it was often difficult for her and her mood wasn’t always the best. Just last week she told me that if I so wanted to be a physical therapist she'd send me back to school, which showed she was always encouraging me to reach new goals. However, she added, until I really knew what I was doing she was through exercising with me.

We are grateful to the wonderful loving caregivers who helped her so tenderly. She wasn't always the easiest to care for, and her caregivers did an amazing job. Thank you to Ruby, and to Luz, Lili, Luz and Bridget and everyone else who helped care for mom during her hardest times. She was fortunate to have so many people who loved her so much.

All of us here think their mom is the best mom and I am no different. Mom instilled in me by her actions and examples my love for children, my love for teaching in and out of the pool, my love for caring for others, and of course my love for animals. Her memory will stay with us forever.

Ellen, spoke beautifully representing the grandchildren:
As you have heard, Beverly was an only child and considered her many cousins to be her extended family. I am here today to represent her ten grandchildren to share our united message of love and memory.

Beverly never explicitly dictated the role we would play in one another’s lives, but now I see her hand in the family that we are: our cousins are like our siblings, our aunts and uncles like extra parents. Nobody’s a stranger in the Goldstein clan, for better or for worse.

We have grown into this group, each of us touched by her love and support individually. When we think of her, we will all remember Grandma at Jacksonville Beach. There was no way she could have lived a land-locked existence, and she and Pop-Pop taught us all the importance of making time to escape to the ocean. (And the sand, and that deck on the lawn that always left me with splinters in my knees….) It wasn’t usually a quiet escape, because beach days were usually family affairs. But then, sometimes it was quiet. Those of us older grandchildren will remember spending nights or even weeks at “Camp Grandma”, sleeping on the blue fold out bed, waking up with the sunrise, exploring her old books and pictures, walks and swimming, private time with Grandma.

For those of us in Jacksonville, whatever we did, wherever we were, she was a part of it. Honor roll on a report card was rewarded with dinner out with Grandma and Pop-Pop. In a speech to me at my Bat Mitzvah, she professed to cherish all the day school bubby/zaide Shabbats, Chanukah programs, and model seders. Elana says that when Grandma attended her last model seder, she was given a special commendation for having attended model seders continuously for 20 years. Even with all of those years of all of us kids learning Pesach songs, though, still none of us were able to help her figure out that “chasal siddur pesach” melody she always just almost could recall from her childhood and always tried to sing at the end of seder.

Grandma loved perpetuating our family’s traditions by involving us in making food for holiday celebrations. All of us have fond memories of mashing nuts for charosets for Passover, folding hamentaschen for purim, or making kosher-for-passover strawberry ice cream. She could almost always be counted on to bring dessert for shabbos dinner, and if you got a rum cake, you knew you were special.

We didn’t just go to Grandma’s house, she made sure that we were out engaging with the community, especially the arts. She loved to take her grandchildren to the theater, and we all have different memories of various plays, unified by a theme: these were never just ordinary days. She continued to love the theater; just this past summer, Grandma saw a sign for the coming season at Players by the Sea and wryly remarked, “I can’t believe it—I lived through another season.”

If we may have sometimes felt that Grandma was too opinionated, with some perspective we see that she just wanted to share her wisdom. She spent a lot of energy trying to strengthen her granddaughters’ bones so they wouldn’t suffer the way she did in later years. She always told me never to marry a man just because he was good looking, although she tried to relax that rule as I got closer to 30.

She thought it was never too late to improve yourself. She took a calligraphy class in her 60s because she was embarrassed by her poor handwriting. As one of her class projects, she made a picture and framed it for me. The legend she inscribed was, Choose to Be Happy.

It’s important, those four words. It says that we have choices, no matter what life deals us, and that we can choose to approach things positively, not negatively.

So I will try to remember that in the next days and weeks, and be glad that I had this grandmother, and this family that she created.

***
Rabbi Lubliner's eulogy was also very beautiful and meaningful. If I am able to get the text from him, I will add it later.

How did we get this together in such a short time? Thank you Doris! We could not have done it without you. Jeff and Doris were in Europe for a meeting and trip, when they got the news about Mom. They quickly flew home. With little sleep and (a bad cold preventing me from hugging her,) we all sent Doris our rambling words and as Janet says, she “worked her magic” to order our memories into a flowing talk. Here is your virtual hug. We love you and thank you, our “outlaw” sister Doris.:)

This Shiva week has been a whirlwind of emotions and of memories shared by and family, friends and friends of Mom's. The grandkids came to Mom's apartment and picked out things they each liked. I saved a few things for Sumalai. As we begin to go through and pack up Mom's apartment, we laugh a lot, and sometimes cry. We lovingly remember our Mom; the Mom before the "elder Mom," the bright, dynamic, loving, helping person that she was. Beverly enriched the lives of so many around her and Mom, we miss you dearly.


September 16, 2014 12:31 PM

In Loving Memory of My Mom — Jacksonville, FL


Jacksonville, FL

Sometimes When it Rains it Pours. On a bright sunny day, I do pretty well keeping my attitude positive and balancing the “cancer” treatment needs and side effects with my regular activities. Then, last Saturday afternoon, September 6, 2014 my Mother, Beverly Stein Goldstein died unexpectedly in Florida. http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/timesu nion/obituary.aspx?n=beverly-stein-gold stein&amp;pid=172392276

A few hours later, Mark and I left for Jacksonville. Later, when I spoke to Mom’s dear Rabbi Lubliner after the Sabbath ended, he asked whether my doctors approved my travel. I replied, I didn’t ask them. I’ll be as careful as I can to avoid infection and illness, but I’m coming.

Mom’s health had been declining over the 6 years after my Dad died. Her biggest problem came from back and hip and knee pain from osteoporosis and previous fractures. The pain impacted her mobility to the effect that during the past year, Mom could no longer walk. In the past couple of months, transferring her from her bed to chairs to get up or go out had become an ordeal requiring at least 2 helpers. She was unhappy. When I called, I would ask her how she was, and she would say, “my back hurts. My back always hurts.” The goal: to keep her as comfortable as possible had not changed, but as the medications required to do this increased her lucidity declined. On Saturday when Mom died, Lynn &amp; a caregiver was with her. They had helped her into her comfy chair. And they watched her take her last breath. Mom was blessed with a quick and easy death, and her daughter was there to reassure us all that this is how she passed.

This is a long entry. Please understand that I am including the details, photos and text of our talks about Mom primarily for our family in Thailand. Jewish burials occur quickly and Noah, Sumalai and Terran could not possibly have gotten here from Bangkok before the service. I encouraged them to wait and come when we can enjoy their company, perhaps over the winter holidays. Feel free to share this entry link with other far away family and friends.

The funeral was on Monday afternoon at Mom’s synagogue followed by the graveside service and burial. She and Daddy both would have been very proud of the handsome family they created. Blessed with four children, 10 grandchildren, and 1 great grandchild, it is the natural order of things for us to bury our parents (and not the other way around.)

At the synagogue service, after Rabbi Lubliner’s meaningful words about Mom, my sisters and I read our own eulogy:

Nancie:
Our Mother didn’t do old age so well. She embraced the challenges of her pain and mobility issues courageously, but those last few years do not tell the story of who Mom was. In her younger decades, our Mom lived with enthusiasm. Her professional and personal activities touched many and blessed our family with interesting intellect and wonderful friends.

Born in Baltimore the beloved only child of Ira &amp; Faye Stein, Mom moved with her parents to Jacksonville before primary school. The story I’ve heard is that just as Prohibition ended my Poppa Ira joined Uncle Joe and his brothers for their new business, Southern Wine &amp; Spirits. Mom would tell us, quoting her father, “Alcohol is for selling, not drinking.” The young Stein family embraced their new home city and quickly became involved in the Jacksonville Jewish Community.

Bevy thrived living first in Riverside and later on Lakewood Road, in the “new Southside.” As her parents both came from large families, Mom had many first cousins, and was close with all of them throughout her life, turning them into her surrogate siblings.

Mom loved animals and her own horse, named Buddy, a cocker spaniel named Peachy, and bunny rabbits. As an adored only child, whatever Bevy wanted Bevy had. The love of animals stayed with her, and at one time she had as many as eight dogs. In more recent years, she got her beloved poodle Mazel certified as a Therapy dog so she could bring him along with her to volunteer at River Garden and at the Baptist Hospital Healing Library.

When I went through my own horse phase, I said, but you had Buddy, why can’t I have a horse? I never got the horse, but all of her grandchildren enjoyed riding a large rocking horse that she bought for them. It sat prominently in the living room, and was named, of course, Buddy.

From the time Mom was 7 years old until she married my father, she spent every summer at Camp Louise, a Jewish girls camp in the Cacoctin Mountains near Baltimore. When she was away from home she wrote her parents newsy letters about her life, often. Every one of them was signed, Your devoted daughter, Beverly. She made forever friends easily and when I was 10 years old, Mom’s camp friends, Gloria &amp; Ethel would drive us up to camp, singing songs they wrote as counselors about the cute Camp Airy boys &amp; Fort Ritchie soldiers of their summers past.

In high school Mom persuaded her parents to send her off to school so that her school year would be more like “camp.” She excelled at Highland Manor, a private high school in New Jersey, and matriculated to Goucher College near her many Baltimore aunts uncles and cousins.

She was at Goucher when her closest Jacksonville girlfriend Grace Kramer (later Leitman) wrote her “Bevy you must come join me at University of Florida.” UF had just admitted women and Grace was in its first class. “There are so many smart and handsome guys down here.” So Mom decided to do her “junior year abroad” at UF. She joined with Grace and her new lifelong friend Joyce Glicksberg as a founding member of the UF AEPhi Jewish Sorority Chapter. Mom was a smart cookie. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa in the first UF class of women, no easy feat, and she met my father!

Billy Goldstein was a Jacksonville boy. He was a little older than Mom as he attended UF on the GI bill after serving in Europe &amp; North Africa in World War II. Mom was smitten by the smart, tall, dark and handsome man, and they were married in 1950. Daddy, a newly minted lawyer joined Uncle Maury forming Goldstein &amp; Goldstein and they settled in Southside comfortably near both sets of parents.

We grew up on Waterman Road, conveniently right next door to the Fleet family, who we called Aunt Margaret and Uncle Joel. Joel was our pediatrician that made house calls. With four lively Goldstein children, he had to come a lot, but he didn’t have to come far.

At Hendricks Avenue elementary Mom was the “go to’ volunteer. Room mother, field trips, Patrol Boys, Teachers of Tomorrow, she led them all. Her stints at Mervyn’s long dance recitals lasted years. She always told her tall and sometimes clumsy daughters how wonderful we were. Birthdays were always a big production, with signs and elaborate birthday cakes and parties that included all our neighborhood friends.

We spent much of our summers at Beauclerc County Club, on the site where the JCA now stands. Just like Lynn, Mom taught all of the children of her day to swim. Summertime also meant beach time. My parents often rented an apartment in Neptune Beach for a week or so, where Mom would enjoy the surf and sand with us. The love of the beach remained with her all of her life, and after we were grown, she and Dad realized their dream of having a small apartment at the beach for summer weekends. I don’t think she counted on having quite so many children and grandchildren come to crash their vacation getaway, but she gamely cooked breakfast for everyone. We knew not to argue with her about hats and sunscreen, and no one went out on the beach without them. I don’t think we dare stop now.

Janet:
Mom was a liberal thinker who believed in equality for all. She drew a great deal of satisfaction from her work, helping underprivileged students get a foothold in the working world. We are proud that after the 1960’s race riots in Jacksonville, Mayor Hans Tanzler appointed our Mother to his hand-picked Community Relations Commission to address the challenges of integration and repairing race relations in our then fractured city.

It may surprise you to know that that open-mindedness stayed with her, even during the last few years. A few years ago, mom and her dear friend, Sylvia Lubliner, started treating me to a member's subscription for Players by the Sea at the beach where they also had a subscription. I would drive, and the three of us would enjoy the play, and then a vegetarian dinner together at our favorite Thai restaurant.

Players by the Sea is a small community theatre known for pushing the limits and producing plays that that promote cooperation, openness, and inclusiveness. The plays are usually a little avant-garde—especially for Jacksonville. I wasn't always sure how mom would react, but nothing fazed her, and our dinner conversations after the play were always enlightening.

In the fall of 2010, the first play of the season was 'The Full Monty'. I always made arrangements for mom and Sylvia to sit in the front row so they wouldn't have to climb the stairs. During the last scene of the play, Mom and Sylvia were less than 20 feet from the front of the stage when the four male actors completely removed their clothes and stood proudly naked in their full glory. Later, at dinner, I asked mom if she was uncomfortable with the ending of the play, and she replied, "Why would I be? Nothing I haven't seen!"

When we saw Reefer Madness the following season, Mom and Sylvia spoke about some of the challenges of raising children in the 60's and 70's. Don't worry, Rabbi - I won't give away any secrets I've learned from your mom about your teenage years. Mom asked some questions, I shared some stories, and mom eventually said - "I guess maybe all that stuff that ya'll did was just part of the times. I still don't know why you needed it, because the music was fun, even without any reefer."

Sylvia, I know we will miss having mom with us this season at Players by the Sea, but you and I will still have our Sunday matinee dates. We'll dedicate this 5th season of plays together to Mom, and at dinner, after we toast with our wine "that was made for selling, and not for drinking," we'll be sure and toast mom again at the end of the meal with a decadent desert - probably chocolate - mom's favorite.

When I first mentioned adopting a child, mom wasn't sure it was smart for her single daughter to become a mom, and of course she reacted with all her anxieties of "what if...what if... what if?". What would others think? Oh My!

But, when she listened and realized I was serious, and passionate, she opened her eyes and heart to rethinking her stance. As soon as Mom saw the first photo of Ilan, she quickly changed her mind and embraced her youngest grandchild and loved the idea of having another baby to hold.
Even though Mom stayed here in Jacksonville while I traveled to Russia to get Ilan, we both felt that she had made the journey with me. Mom was always such an amazingly supportive grandma and loved all the kids, each in their own special way.

As Rabbi said, Mom was a whirlwind of parental activity and remember, - there were four of us and only one of her – and we were not able to clone her. The only way that she was able to be the amazing mom that she was is because of our other mother, Berrie. For all of our growing up years, Berrie was the one who left her family at home alone for long hours each day, so she could be with us, and thus mom was able to do all the volunteering, working full-time, and be the super-mom she tried to be. We cannot mourn for mom, without mourning for our other mother, Berrie, who we miss each and every day.

We all know that it was Lynn who organized and cared for Mom’s every need during her final years. Lynn, as these last years got harder, we all know how your full-time job with Mom became more difficult too. There is no doubt that Mom knew how much you loved her and did everything and anything to make these last few years less painful and lonely for her since Daddy died.

Lynn:
Being the baby, Mom always teased that the reason I was here was because my dad had to prove himself one more time after he had major surgery. Mom always referred to her kids as 'my son and my three girls'. I was the third daughter but she wanted a second son. Looking back over the last few years, I guess she was lucky that she had me.

For those of you who knew my mom, you knew she had a good heart, and reached out to people. She always enjoyed being with her friends, whether playing mahjong or volunteering. Just last week she had a dinner gathering with a group of friends who she didn't get to see that often.

She loved to help others achieve their goals, just like she did during her time as a career counselor. She formed a deep connection with her caregiver, Ruby, who moved in over six years ago. Even though Ruby spoke very little English when she met Mom, she had a great deal of empathy and understood Mom and her needs. Mom prided herself in teaching Ruby English, and so they finally had that ability to communicate as well, although their bond went beyond words.

She always pushed everyone to be the best that they can be. I have inherited that trait from her, and during her final years, I pushed her ***********tinue to work at her physical therapy, even though it was often difficult for her and her mood wasn’t always the best. Just last week she told me that if I so wanted to be a physical therapist she'd send me back to school, which showed she was always encouraging me to reach new goals. However, she added, until I really knew what I was doing she was through exercising with me.

We are grateful to the wonderful loving caregivers who helped her so tenderly. She wasn't always the easiest to care for, and her caregivers did an amazing job. Thank you to Ruby, and to Luz, Lili, Luz and Bridget and everyone else who helped care for mom during her hardest times. She was fortunate to have so many people who loved her so much.

All of us here think their mom is the best mom and I am no different. Mom instilled in me by her actions and examples my love for children, my love for teaching in and out of the pool, my love for caring for others, and of course my love for animals. Her memory will stay with us forever.

Ellen, spoke beautifully representing the grandchildren:
As you have heard, Beverly was an only child and considered her many cousins to be her extended family. I am here today to represent her ten grandchildren to share our united message of love and memory.

Beverly never explicitly dictated the role we would play in one another’s lives, but now I see her hand in the family that we are: our cousins are like our siblings, our aunts and uncles like extra parents. Nobody’s a stranger in the Goldstein clan, for better or for worse.

We have grown into this group, each of us touched by her love and support individually. When we think of her, we will all remember Grandma at Jacksonville Beach. There was no way she could have lived a land-locked existence, and she and Pop-Pop taught us all the importance of making time to escape to the ocean. (And the sand, and that deck on the lawn that always left me with splinters in my knees….) It wasn’t usually a quiet escape, because beach days were usually family affairs. But then, sometimes it was quiet. Those of us older grandchildren will remember spending nights or even weeks at “Camp Grandma”, sleeping on the blue fold out bed, waking up with the sunrise, exploring her old books and pictures, walks and swimming, private time with Grandma.

For those of us in Jacksonville, whatever we did, wherever we were, she was a part of it. Honor roll on a report card was rewarded with dinner out with Grandma and Pop-Pop. In a speech to me at my Bat Mitzvah, she professed to cherish all the day school bubby/zaide Shabbats, Chanukah programs, and model seders. Elana says that when Grandma attended her last model seder, she was given a special commendation for having attended model seders continuously for 20 years. Even with all of those years of all of us kids learning Pesach songs, though, still none of us were able to help her figure out that “chasal siddur pesach” melody she always just almost could recall from her childhood and always tried to sing at the end of seder.

Grandma loved perpetuating our family’s traditions by involving us in making food for holiday celebrations. All of us have fond memories of mashing nuts for charosets for Passover, folding hamentaschen for purim, or making kosher-for-passover strawberry ice cream. She could almost always be counted on to bring dessert for shabbos dinner, and if you got a rum cake, you knew you were special.

We didn’t just go to Grandma’s house, she made sure that we were out engaging with the community, especially the arts. She loved to take her grandchildren to the theater, and we all have different memories of various plays, unified by a theme: these were never just ordinary days. She continued to love the theater; just this past summer, Grandma saw a sign for the coming season at Players by the Sea and wryly remarked, “I can’t believe it—I lived through another season.”

If we may have sometimes felt that Grandma was too opinionated, with some perspective we see that she just wanted to share her wisdom. She spent a lot of energy trying to strengthen her granddaughters’ bones so they wouldn’t suffer the way she did in later years. She always told me never to marry a man just because he was good looking, although she tried to relax that rule as I got closer to 30.

She thought it was never too late to improve yourself. She took a calligraphy class in her 60s because she was embarrassed by her poor handwriting. As one of her class projects, she made a picture and framed it for me. The legend she inscribed was, Choose to Be Happy.

It’s important, those four words. It says that we have choices, no matter what life deals us, and that we can choose to approach things positively, not negatively.

So I will try to remember that in the next days and weeks, and be glad that I had this grandmother, and this family that she created.

***
Rabbi Lubliner's eulogy was also very beautiful and meaningful. If I am able to get the text from him, I will add it later.

How did we get this together in such a short time? Thank you Doris! We could not have done it without you. Jeff and Doris were in Europe for a meeting and trip, when they got the news about Mom. They quickly flew home. With little sleep and (a bad cold preventing me from hugging her,) we all sent Doris our rambling words and as Janet says, she “worked her magic” to order our memories into a flowing talk. Here is your virtual hug. We love you and thank you, our “outlaw” sister Doris.:)

This Shiva week has been a whirlwind of emotions and of memories shared by and family, friends and friends of Mom's. The grandkids came to Mom's apartment and picked out things they each liked. I saved a few things for Sumalai. As we begin to go through and pack up Mom's apartment, we laugh a lot, and sometimes cry. We lovingly remember our Mom; the Mom before the "elder Mom," the bright, dynamic, loving, helping person that she was. Beverly enriched the lives of so many around her and Mom, we miss you dearly.


September 16, 2014 12:31 PM

September 13, 2014

Nancie Severs

3rd Chemo Done! — Boston, MA


Boston, MA

Where I stayed
Boston Marriott Cambridge


My 3rd chemo had been scheduled for Tuesday, August 20. I had scheduled radiation treatment mapping &amp; planning appointments for the day before. My eldest son, Aaron met me in Boston on the 19th with plans to come home with me from chemo, work remotely from home visit, and then go to NYC for a father &amp; son trip to the US Open.

“The best laid plans...” are sometimes laid aside. My blood counts were too low for chemo on the 20th. Aaron was here and I felt well! I had been wanting to eat at Helmand, a well known casual Cambridge Afghani restaurant and we did. We walked over on a lovely evening and watched the sunset over the Charles River from a nearby park. We came home the next day, and during this “gift week,” another unanticipated week of the loveliest summer, in recent memory, Mark and I enjoyed having Aaron around.

Aaron and Mark left for NYC on Sunday, and my 3rd chemo treatment was good to go on Tuesday, August 26, right in the middle of their US Open trip. My sisters, cousins, and close friends have all offered to come with me for treatments. My dear friend Bruria came for this one. I have told my friends that what is most helpful is to call me to do things we usually do. I don’t want to be “ill” around my friends and while I might not feel strong enough to be out all day, normal outings, e.g., a walk, a trip to the Farmers market, lunch or gelato with a friend, that is what is good for me.

Chemo day starts “very early” and I had a full Boston day of “normal activities” planned for Bruria &amp; I on the day before. We took the 9:30 AM coach down, got our usual room with a great view at the Cambridge Marriott, and took off for our Boston Day.

We started off in Copley Square with a plan to look at a “hotel” with long stay apartments nearby. My radiation treatment was scheduled to begin September 9, and that's 5 days a week for 7 weeks. I’ll go home some weekends. I was tempted to continue to stay at the Cambridge Marriott “by the night” but the autumn hotel occupancy rates blocked the Dana Farber corporate rates. Every one of my favorite haunts are too expensive. A Boston long stay arrangement will be more convenient anyway.

Bruria and I headed over to see the Hotel 450, a former YWCA that looked really intriguing and well priced, on the Internet. A self styled European Boutique hotel (think small rooms and limited public spaces) the location right at Copley Square was great and the idea intrigued me. But “pictures lie”:). I had checked Trip Advisor and I knew not to reserve without seeing the rooms in person. Bruria and I saw a 2 bedroom apartment, the only “apartment” unit available to see. The apartment wasn’t bad, wasn’t great, but despite the charming idea of a historic renovation of the former YWCA, the building still looks and feels like a Y. While we were at reception, a woman came in to inquire about a same day room. The desk clerk told her $202, actually not a bad price per night for that Boston location on a Red Sox game day. But it was for a tiny dark previously a Y dorm room. s When she replied in surprise about the expense, Bruria &amp; I realized that the woman thought she was in the YWCA, not a hotel. No, this spot would not be ideal for me. We left and I said I know what I’ll do for my Boston long stay. Let’s get out of here and enjoy our day!

We had “Pinkberry,” we stopped into the Boston Public Library to admire its beauty, we hit the Nordstrom Rack on Boylston, and we headed over to Charles Street to meet my friend Elaine. I was so happy to sit in an outdoor cafe and catch up on her latest adventures in Cambodia where she runs two schools and improves lives for countless youngsters and their families in rural Cambodia. http://www.cambodiapride.org/

We were charmed by Elaine’s stories and her updates. This year, 44 children graduated from Cambodia Pride’s Chung Family Junior High School. 26 teenage girls will matriculate to high school. Elaine says, “in rural Cambodia, the girls rarely finish school. They get married at 14 or 15, sometimes before that. To have 26 girls continue their education is highly unusual and our programs are working.” Of course I asked about the the Snake anti-venom program too. It has saved 48 lives since it started just a little over 2 years ago. More details and photos about Cambodia Prides work are in my “volunteer work blog here.” (LINK) Scroll through the contents to find them. http://blog.travelpod.com/travel-blog/n severs/4/tpod.html Amazing work. Way to go Elaine!

Bruria and I next walked through the Public Garden. The roses have been incredible this year and they are still at it! We checked out Newbury Street and headed back to Cambridge for dinner. We had a full day. I was ready for my chemo day in bed to rest!

My chemo was again in the outpatient allergy desensitization suite. I must consent to treatment before we start. Would you sign a consent form that says this? I have discussed the likelihood of major risks of complications of the procedure including but not limited to infection, hemorrhage, drug reactions, blood clots, loss of sensation, loss of limb function, paralysis, brain damage, and loss of life. I have also indicated that with any procedure, there is always the possibility of an unexpected complication, and no guarantees or promises can be made concerning the results of any procedure or treatment. I signed it, but I also copied the text. It's ultimately my choice whether or not to get treatment. I carefully chose my treatment team and I trust my doctors. The significance is still sobering.

Dot was my nurse. I snapped her photo covered head to toe, as she must be when she gets near the "poison" being infused into my body. I wonder how long I am toxic for? And to whom?

Dr Castells and Dr Matt said that they could try a shorter than 10 hours infusion this time.

Bruria headed out to enjoy Boston and I told her she could come back around 3 or 3:30PM. Some patients have someone sitting with them but I would talk too much and not rest. I like to do it by myself. Bruria did some shopping and went to the MFA. She called me from Trader Joes. “Did I need anything?” “Yes Chocolate! Please buy my favorite dark chocolate covered ginger and pistachio toffee!” I was glad to get some for the docs &amp; nurses, and of course to bring home also.

In the morning, we enjoyed the Farmers Market in the hotel courtyard and got a little sunshine! At 24 hours post chemo, I needed a Neulasta shot to boost my white counts over the coming weeks. We went over to the hospital for that, brought our stuff and headed for the bus home. Thank you for coming with me, my dear friend Bruria. How wonderful you made this treatment trip.

I’m late getting this entry up because, once home post chemo, I got kind of sick. I expect to be under the weather, a little stomach sick and very fatigued for the first week and I plan to do nothing but recover. The Neulasta shot caused deep bone pain and I had to rest. Just as that subsided, I had what felt like flu symptoms. I had met my friend Gloria in town on the first day I felt well enough to head to Hanover. I went home and went straight to bed. I woke up late around 11:30 PM itching and saw that I was having another allergic response to the chemo, but different this time. The flu symptoms (no fever, no infection) were accompanied by itchy hives. I paged the allergist on call at Brigham and followed her instructions. I had to take antihistamines &amp; rest for the next few days. The drugs slow me down but they work. The reaction slowly subsided and when chemo resumes, we are back to the longer infusion days to try to safely give me the “magic potion” that had better be toxic to my cancer.

3rd Chemo DONE!




September 13, 2014 03:17 PM

September 12, 2014

Hands of Charity XO Project | Kenya

September 08, 2014

Sugar Labs Argentina

Cumbre Juvenil - Montevideo, Uruguay (September 20 a 23 de 2014)

Comparto invitación al evento

Queridos colegas,
ANEP (Administración Nacional de Educación Pública) y Sugar Labs se han propuesto organizar una Cumbre Mundial Juvenil de Programadores, un lugar de encuentro entre jóvenes de distintas partes del mundo que se encuentran trabajando en el desarrollo de software. Aprovechando este espacio de encuentro, queremos convocar a líderes de programas educativos interesados en el potencial que la tecnología tienen en el aprendizaje, y el promover participación auténtica de los estudiantes en este contexto.

Quiénes deben participar:
- Jóvenes de los diferentes programas educativos, que se hayan destacado por su interés en la programación y/o que hayan realizado contribuciones concretas al desarrollo del ambiente de aprendizaje Sugar.
- Líderes de los programas, interesados en participar en una serie de reuniones estratégicas para definir el futuro del ambiente de aprendizaje Sugar.

Por qué participar en este encuentro:
- Para trabajar y aprender con jóvenes desarrolladores de Python, reconocidos internacionalmente,
- Ayudar a definir el futuro del ambiente de aprendizaje Sugar y las futuras generaciones de software para aprendizaje,
- Para conectar con expertos, convencidos del potencial de la tecnología en el desarrollo y aprendizaje de los jóvenes,
- Para fortalecer la comunidad de usuarios del ambiente de aprendizaje Sugar alrededor del mundo.

Todos los interesados en participar en este importante encuentro deben ponerse en contacto con nosotros inmediatamente. ANEP ha ofrecido financiación de gastos locales para los jóvenes que participarán en este evento.
Cordialmente,

José Miguel Garcia
(ANEP)

Walter Bender
(Sugar Labs)

Para incribirse solo deben ingresar al siguiente formulario:

by Gonzalo Odiard (noreply@blogger.com) at September 08, 2014 05:10 PM

Hands of Charity XO Project | Kenya

Can Bungoma Bukokholo Kids Invent?

See what other kids have done inventing solutions to problems they see around them. Make a comfortable seat for a chair out of recycled plastics? Good idea. Post it here. Look at what other kids have done. Next year you will be in this list. http://www.googlesciencefair.com/en/


by smallsolutionsbigideas at September 08, 2014 01:44 PM

September 02, 2014

Sugar Digest / Walter Bender

Sugar Digest 2014-09-03

== Sugar Digest ==

I took the summer off from blogging, hence I have a lot to report about the exciting progress we’ve made of the past three months.

First, congratulations to our ten participants in Google Summer of Code:

Project Student Mentor
Music Suite Aneesh Dogra Gonzalo Odiard
Turtle Art 3D Anubhav Jaiswal Tony Forster
Activity Unit/UI Tests Gaurav Parida Daniel Narvaez
Port to Python 3 Kunal Arora Sameer Verma
Bulletin Board Nazrul Haque Athar Walter Bender
Hack a Stuffed Animal Jade Garrett Stephen Thomas
Social Help for Sugar Prasoon Shukla Paul Cotton
Cordova Container for Sugar Puneet Kaur Lionel Laské
Sugar Listens Rodrigo Parra Martin Abente

Also, thank you to both Google, for once again letting us participate in this great program and to our mentors, who gave time and attention to the students. I am happy to say that we not only learned a great deal, e.g., Kunal’s efforts have informed us as to what we will need to do to migrate to Python 3, but also, we have landed (or will land) much of the work.

For example, one of the projects, Turtle Art 3D, is now available for download from the Sugar activity portal.

2. We held a Turtle Art Day in San Antonio Texas in August as part of Open Ed Jam, organized by Mariah Noelle Villarreal. Tip of the hat to Ruben Rodriguéz, whose TOAST (Trisquel with Sugar) image was used in the workshop.

We used USB keys donated by Nexcopy as part of their Recycle USB campaign.

3. Speaking of Turtle Art, Cynthia Solomon, Claudia Urrea, and I wrote a paper, “(More than) Twenty Things to Do in Turtle Blocks” for the Constructionist Conference in Vienna. We made some videos as well.

In the community

4. There will be a Youth Summit held in Montevideo September 20-23.
ANEP (National Administration of Public Education) and Sugar Labs are organizing a World Junior Programmers Summit, a meeting among youths from different parts of the world who are working in software development. Taking advantage of this gathering, we are soliciting participation by leaders of educational programs interested in the potential that technology has on learning and in promoting meaningful participation of students.

This event will last for four days, three days for the youth meeting, and the fourth day for a series of strategic to discuss the current impact and future of the Sugar learning environment. The first day of the youth event will be open to anyone interested in joining the community of free software developers, while the other two days will be for those who are already actively involved in Sugar development.

Who should attend:
* Youths who have an interest in programming and / or have made ​​concrete contributions to the development of the Sugar learning environment;
* Leaders interested in participating in a series of strategic meetings to define the future of the Sugar learning environment.

Why participate in this meeting:
* To work with internationally recognized young a Python developers;
* Help define the future of the Sugar learning environment and future generations of software for learning;
* To connect with experts, convinced of the potential of technology in the development and learning;
* To strengthen the community of users of the Sugar learning environment around the world.

Anyone interested in participating in this important event should contact us immediately. ANEP has offered funding to cover the local costs for youths to participate in this event.

Registration is here.

Tech Talk

5. Martin Abente oversaw the release of Sugar 102 and is now gathering feature requests for Sugar 104.

Sugar Labs

6. Please visit our planet at http://planet.sugarlab.org

by Walter Bender at September 02, 2014 07:32 PM

August 27, 2014

ICT4D Views from the Field

Akoyikoyi School in Chuuk, FSM receives RACHEL Server for offline educational content

P1150593

Last week, the PISCES (Pacific Islands Schools, Connectivity, Education, and Solar) Team visited the Akoyikoyi School, located in Penia Village, on Weno Island, in Chuuk State, in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). This is a unique primary school, presently comprising grades 1-3, and operating like a charter school yet charging no fees, while focusing on community involvement to ensure long-term student success.

photo 3P1150591

We met with the Akoyikoyi Team of teacher-volunteers, principal, and director (Clark Graham). We spoke about the PISCES Team’s progress to-date and future work in developing an off-line repository for educational material to be made available to all of Chuuk’s schools.

P1150589

Among other things, we demonstrated the RACHEL educational content server to the Akoyikoyi Team. The RACHEL server is an ultra-compact, ultra-low power computer (on a Raspberry Pi) preloaded with free educational content (RACHEL, from World Possible). There seemed to be a great fit for a RACHEL server at the Akyoikoyi School, as they have both electricity and technological devices (tablets) for the students to use, but no Internet connectivity (which can otherwise severely limit the usefulness of devices such as tablets). RACHEL provides an offline repository of educational content, but does still require electricity and devices to be useful.

photo 1

A few days after our initial visit, we brought a RACHEL to the Akoyikoyi School for them to keep, explore the content and how to use it, and discover what they’d like to add to the content. Pictured above is Hiro, from the iSolutions Micronesia and PISCES Team, handing the Rachel Pi over to Grace, one of Akoyikoyi’s teachers.

photo 2

This is only the first stage of what we believe will become a fruitful partnership moving forward. Not only do we hope to be able to provide the Akoyikoyi School with a greater number of more powerful devices, so that all of their students can make use of this digital technology and content, but we also look forward to their input to our team on digital content that will be valuable and primary-level appropriate, which we can add to the off-line repository for all schools in Chuuk to be able to access in the future.

photo 4

We understand that an ethnomusicologist is coming to visit the Akoyikoyi School in the near future, and it would be fantastic to be able to add some Chuukese music to the digital library!


by ljhosman at August 27, 2014 09:04 PM

August 25, 2014

One Laptop per Child

Robotics Summer Camp at Phillis Wheatley Elementary School

Captura de pantalla 2014-08-25 10.18.21

 

from the original post at the Miami Herald

…Q. Why are you starting a robotics program for kids?

A. At MAKO, we had over 100 engineers and were doing all these H1 Visas. It didn’t make sense to me why there weren’t more American engineers coming out from the education system that can contribute directly. I started working with a lot of the schools and universities here. For the United States to continue to be strong, we need more engineers to innovate. The data were showing where you can have the largest impact on influencing directionally is to get more middle school students excited about engineering. We’ve supported various efforts over the last five years in inner-city schools. It has been rewarding, but I felt we weren’t moving fast enough and struggled with how to measure success and how to scale. So this year we took on a different approach.

We brought in experts in various disciplines and embarked on a one-year pilot to take the concept to the next level. So we put together a really unique curriculum where we brought in a Stanford University professor, Ken Salisbury, and the kids got a virtual tour of one of the best biorobotics labs in the world. We had them build robotic arms, similar to what we did at MAKO, and we had a whole curriculum around anatomy and physiology. Once they built it, we showed them how these are being used, we brought them to Larkin Hospital, where they met a renowned orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Carlos Lavernia. They saw how the robotics arms were being used in medicine. We brought them to the Stryker-MAKO facility, where they met engineers, including engineers that came out of their neighborhoods and are great role models. What really got them excited was a visit from One Laptop Per Child’s CEO Rodrigo Arboleda. His research has shown that when you give a laptop, the logical thing to do is build things on it, and the process develops kids’ creative thinking.

Now we are looking at how we can implement this within schools starting in South Florida. We are bringing into the process art and creativity, we had Pharrell talk to these kids. We are going to follow and mentor these 20 kids for the next few years and bring in more kids. We’ll see where this goes, but we are very excited about it. We had a staff of 15 people working on this project over the summer with all the right disciplines in place.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/08/24/4304536/qa-with-maurice-ferre-whats-next.html#storylink=cpy

 

by mariana at August 25, 2014 03:34 PM

Chris Ball

Experimenting with Panamax

Disclosure: This blog post is part of the Panamax Template Contest.

In my blog post about the Dell C6100 server I’ve been using, I mentioned that I run a full LXC userland for each application I deploy, and that I’d like to try out Docker but that this setup is in conflict with Docker’s philosophy – a Docker container only runs one process, which makes it difficult to use Docker for anything requiring interaction between processes. Here’s an example: this blog is running WordPress with MySQL. So, with LXC I create a fresh Ubuntu container for the blog and run apt-get install wordpress and I’m up and running, but trying to use Docker would leave me with an “orchestration” problem – if I’m supposed to have a separate web server and database server, how will they figure out how to talk to each other?

If the two Docker services are being run on the same host, you can use docker --link, which runs one service under a given name and then makes it available to any service it’s linked to. For example, I could call a postgres container db and then run something like docker --name web --link db:db wordpress. The wordpress container receives environment variables giving connection information for the database host, which means that as long as you can modify your application to use environment variables when deciding which database host to connect to, you’re all set. (If the two docker services are being run on separate hosts, you have an “ambassador” problem to figure out.)

All of which is a long-winded way to say that Panamax is a new piece of open source software that attempts to ameliorate the pain of solving orchestration problems like this one, and I decided to try it out. It’s a web service that you run locally, and it promises a drag-and-drop interface for building out complex multi-tier Docker apps. Here’s what it looks like when pairing a postgres database with a web server running a Django app, WagtailCMS:

The technical setup of Panamax is interesting. It’s distributed as a CoreOS image which you run inside Vagrant and Virtualbox, and then your containers are launched from the CoreOS image. This means that Panamax has no system dependencies other than Vagrant and Virtualbox, so it’s easily usable on Windows, OS X, or any other environment that can’t run Docker directly.

Looking through the templates already created, I noticed an example of combining Rails and Postgres. I like Django, so I decided to give Django and Postgres a try. I found mbentley’s Ubuntu + nginx + uwsgi + Django docker image on the Docker Hub. Comparing it to the Rails and Postgres template on Panamax, the Django container lacks database support, but does have support for overlaying your own app into the container, which means you can do live-editing of your app.

I decided to see if I could combine the best parts of both templates to come up with a Panamax template for hosting arbitrary Django apps, which supports using an external database and offers live-editing.  I ended up creating a new Docker image, with the unwieldy name of cjbprime/ubuntu-django-uwsgi-nginx-live. This image is based on mbentley’s, but supports having a Django app passed in as an image, and will try to install its requirements. You can also link this image to a database server, and syncdb/migrate will be run when the image starts to set things up. If you need to create an admin user, you can do that inside a docker_run.sh file in your app directory.

After combining this new Docker image with a Postgres container, I’m very happy with how my django-with-postgres template turned out – I’m able to take an existing Django app, make minor changes using a text editor on my local machine to use environment variables for the database connection, start up the Panamax template, and watch as a database is created (if necessary), dependencies are installed, migrations are run, an admin user is created (if necessary), and the app is launched.  All without using a terminal window at any point in the process.

To show a concrete example, I also made a template that bundles the Wagtail Django CMS demo. It’s equivalent to just using my django-with-postgres container with the wagtaildemo code passed through to the live-editing overlay image (in /opt/django/app), and it brings up wagtaildemo with a postgres DB in a separate container. Here’s what that looks like:

Now that I’ve explained where I ended up, I should talk about how Panamax helped.  Panamax introduced me to Docker concepts (linking between containers, overlaying images) that I hadn’t used before because they seemed too painful, and helped me create something cool that I wouldn’t otherwise have attempted.  There were some frustrations, though.  First, the small stuff:

Underscores in container names

This one should have been in big bold letters at the top of the release notes, I think.  Check this out: unit names with _{a-f}{a-f} in them cause dbus to crash. This is amusing in retrospect, but was pretty inscrutable to debug, and perhaps made worse by the Panamax design: there’s a separate frontend web service and backend API, and when the backend API throws an error, it seems that the web interface doesn’t have access to any more detail on what went wrong. I’m lucky that someone on IRC volunteered the solution straight away.

The CoreOS Journal box occasionally stays black

Doing Docker development depends heavily on being able to see the logs of the running containers to work out why they aren’t coming up as you thought they would.  In Docker-land this is achieved with docker -f logs <cid>, but Panamax brings the logs in to the web interface: remember, the goal is to avoid having to look at the terminal at all.  But it doesn’t work sometimes.  There’s a panamax ssh command to ssh into the CoreOS host and run docker logs there, but that’s breaking the “fourth wall” of Panamax.

Progress bar when pulling Docker images

A minor change: it’d be great to be able to see progress when Panamax is pulling down a Docker image. There’s no indicator of progress, which made me think that something had hung or failed. Further, systemd complained about the app failing to start, when it just needed more time for the docker pull to complete.

Out of memory when starting a container

The CoreOS host allocates 1GB RAM for itself: that’s for the Panamax webapp (written in Rails), its API backend, and any containers you write and launch.  I had to increase this to 2GB while developing, by modifying ~/.panamax/.env:

export PMX_VM_MEMORY=2048

Sharing images between the local host and the container

I mentioned how Panamax uses a CoreOS host to run everything from, and how this drastically reduces the install dependencies.  There’s a significant downside to this design – I want to allow my local machine to share a filesystem and networking with my Docker container, but now there’s a CoreOS virtual machine in the way – I can’t directly connect from my laptop to the container running Django without hopping through the VM somehow. I want to connect to it for two different reasons:

  1. To have a direct TCP connection from my laptop to the database server, so that I can make database changes if necessary.
  2. To share a filesystem with a container so that I can test my changes live.

Panamax makes the first type of connection reasonably easy. There’s a VirtualBox command for doing port forwarding from the host through to the guest – the guest in this case is the CoreOS host. So we end up doing two stages of port forwarding: Docker forwards port 80 from the Django app out to port 8123 on the CoreOS host, and then VirtualBox forwards port 8123 on my laptop to port 8123 on the CoreOS host. Here’s the command to make it work:

VBoxManage controlvm panamax-vm natpf1 rule1,tcp,,8123,,8123

The filesystem sharing is much trickier – we need to share a consistent view of a single directory between three hosts: again, the laptop, the CoreOS host, and the Docker app. Vagrant has a solution to this, which is that it can NFS share a guest OS from the CoreOS host back to my laptop. That works like this, modifying ~/.vagrant.d/boxes/panamax-coreos-box-367/0/virtualbox/Vagrantfile:

  config.vm.network "private_network", ip: "192.168.50.4"
  config.vm.synced_folder "/home/cjb/djangoapp", "/home/core/django",
  id: "django", :nfs => true, :mount_options => ['nolock,vers=3,udp']

So, we tell Panamax to share /opt/django/app with the CoreOS host as /home/core/django, and then we tell Vagrant to share /home/cjb/djangoappon my laptop with the CoreOS host as /home/core/django over NFS. After `apt-get install nfs-kernel-server`, trying this leads to a weird error:

exportfs: /home/cjb/djangoapp does not support NFS export

This turns out to be because I’m running ecryptfs for filesystem encryption on my Ubuntu laptop, and nfs-kernel-server can’t export the encrypted FS. To work around it, I mounted a tmpfs for my Django app and used that instead. As far as I know, OS X and Windows don’t have this problem.

Summary

Panamax taught me a lot about Docker, and caused me to publish my first two images to the Docker registry, which is more than I expected to gain from trying it out. I’m not sure I’m the target audience – I don’t think I’d want to run production Docker apps under it on a headless server (at least until it’s more stable), which suggests that its main use is as an easy way to experiment with the development of containerized systems. But the friction introduced by the extra CoreOS host seems too great for it to be an awesome development platform for me. I think it’s a solvable problem – if the team can find a way to make the network port forwarding and the filesystem NFS sharing be automatic, rather than manual, and to work with ecryptfs on Ubuntu, it would make a massive difference.

I am impressed with the newfound ability to help someone launch a database-backed Django app without using any terminal commands, even if they’re on Windows and have no kind of dev environment, and would consider recommending Panamax for someone in that situation. Ultimately, maybe what I’ll get out of Panamax is a demystification of Docker’s orchestration concepts. That’s still a pretty useful experience to have.

by cjb at August 25, 2014 02:35 PM

August 24, 2014

Tabitha Roder

Innovative ideas for improving education in developing countries

I’ve been a long time supporter of One Laptop Per Child and Sugarlabs, but there are some other quite interesting innovations that I thought some of our readers may be interested in hearing about. I’ve just picked a couple to write about.

Keepod

This idea is based on reusing old computers and giving each child a USB drive with their own computing environment whilst sharing a computer.

It’s an Android based Operating System which allows the student to get the best apps from the marketplace for their education or other uses.

Read the BBC article about Keepod in Nairobi.

Raspberry Pi

The idea behind Raspberry Pi is that you reuse a computer monitor or TV and a keyboard and a mouse to plug into a credit card sized computer (the Raspberry Pi) so that students can explore computing and learn how to program in (quite accessible, easy to learn) languages like Scratch and Python.

The Raspberry Pi is also quite a capable computing device, whether students want to use it for web browsing, writing, or watching videos. You can connect peripherals to make things even more exciting.

The Raspberry Pi website is well set out to make it easy for students to learn how to program their Raspberry Pi and for parents and teachers to support learners.

Aakash tablet and the government of India

Datawind invented the Aakash tablet (also known as UbiSlate) in response to an Indian initiative to develop a low cost computing device, similar to OLPC, intended for college students. The tablet was sold to the Ministry of Human Resource Development in India.

School in the cloud

Sugata Mitra, renowned for his “hole in the wall” experiment, wanted to build a school in the cloud that utilised what he learned in his granny cloud (students are encouraged by a “grandmother” which enables them to learn what they need and motivates them to find what interests them) and SOLE (self organised learning environments) projects (students work in groups, and use the internet to access educational support). His first cloud school opened this year in India.

Do you know of an initiative that our readers might like to hear about? Please feel free to add in the comments.

by tabitharoder at August 24, 2014 08:29 PM

August 19, 2014

Unleash Kids: Unsung Heroes of OLPC, Interviewed Live

Unleash Kids Workshop: Bringing A Story To Life

Today we launched the first of what I hope will be many monthly workshops over at our Delmas28 location. A total of four of our most experienced teachers – Fefe, Dyna, Jeanide, and Ruben – worked with a group of 18 students to help them produce a story using Scratch.

As you might have gathered from the number of teachers needed, this activity is more advanced than the stuff we typically do to introduce the kids to the computers. Scratch is a programming language developed for kids by MIT. You click and drag on blocks to give the commands. With the ability to manipulate appearance, sound, and interactions between objects, you can make games, animations, and basically anything you’re willing to put your mind to make happen.

Students getting started

Students getting started

Our theme for the day was “a time when something hurt me.” I came up with it the day my phone got stolen – I was messing around on Scratch to prepare for the workshop, I needed the story to tell, and that was the first thing that popped into my head.

One of the older orphanage boys, Peterson, had been watching me program the thief’s gaze and movements towards my cell phone. I asked him to tell me his own story about a time when something hurt him. He immediately launched into an account of a time he got into an argument with his father. “Wait, wait,” I found myself saying. “Go over it more slowly. Who were the participants? What did your father do, and how did you react?”

Once we had all the characters in place, we typed out the dialogue for each one, tweaking the timing for each one to make sure the text was on screen long enough for someone to read. We drew two pictures of Peterson’s birth certificate – one whole, and one torn in half – and had it switch from one to the other at the story’s climax.

There’s a satisfaction to reducing something painful to its bare elements. By programming, you get some measure of control over the situation. I was a little nervous about choosing something so heavy as a topic for a kids’ workshop, but it turns out they were ready for it. Most stories are about someone in trouble, after all, and adults can be wrong when they assume kids crave Disneyfied happy endings. Kids have a strong sense of right and wrong – ever try to cross over the lines of a hopscotch game? They understand that bad things can happen to good people, and they want to know why.

Physical punishment is part of Haitian culture, and quite a few kids told us about a time when their parents beat them even though they didn’t feel they deserved it. We also had several tales about dogs on the street stealing meat or biting people. Others wrote about pets that died, fights with friends, and motorcycle accidents.

Our job was to bring each and every story to life. We started out by asking the students to fill out a simple form, listing characters, actions, objects, and reactions. Then, they had to find or draw a picture for each one, along with a background.

Deciding which commands to select.

Deciding which commands to select.

It was the students’ first time using the computers, so they needed a lot of help and encouragement. One boy wanted to write about his cell phone being stolen, but he couldn’t find a phone in the list of preloaded images. I showed him the option for drawing one, but he seemed a bit daunted. The guy next to him had a picture of a person and a picture of a bicycle, but he couldn’t make the guy sit on the bike because they were facing opposite ways. I told him to play around with the rotate and flip options until it looked right. The girl next to him had chosen all of her images already, but she needed a belt in her father’s hand as the finishing touch, and refused to try to draw one.

It was extremely rewarding to watch them all figure it out. When the boy with the cell phone called me back over, I saw he had drawn not just one but two phones, and also added a laptop. “I had all that stuff sitting with me on the bench while I was studying, and then I fell asleep,” he explained. I helped him program a thief to come in and swipe one of the phones. Watching the finished product, he shook his head and commented, “Hey, at least he didn’t take my laptop and the other cell phone.”

His friend with the bicycle had finally gotten all the pieces facing the right way. He showed me a second drawing he had made, with the guy falling over the bike. “I want the bike to move for a little bit, and then I want it to change to the accident.” I showed him the Movement category and asked him to choose which ones would work.We tried a couple, but kept on having problems because the “person” object wasn’t turning at the same time as the “bike” object. Eventually, we made it easy on ourselves by just combining them into one object that moved with one set of commands.

The girl next to him was busy typing out some text. She’d found a “repeat” block and set things up so that the belt moved up and down three times while her father said, “I told you not go to outside.” She may not have been comfortable with drawing at first, but she was creative enough to do something much more complicated – animation.

Presenting the final product

Presenting the final product

There were some mishaps. Everyone laughed when one girl forgot to program a Coke bottle. On the screen, her character moves over to another character and says, “Here is the Coke” but the Coke bottle itself stays behind in the corner. Not everyone got a chance to finish their story. They took longer to adapt to the computers than they’d bargained for, so we ran out of time. The teachers themselves were sometimes confused on which commands to choose. They hadn’t had much time to practice with Scratch, and each story needed something different. I liked the simplicity of “character, action, object, reaction” for these stories, but it might be better to constrain things even more. Have everyone write about transportation, for example, so everyone’s using the same set of movement commands to program everything, whether they’re talking about a plane, train, or ship.

The good news is, next week we get to try again – this same group will be back for the next three Saturdays to do some more work with Scratch. And then next month, we’ll start another workshop, on a new topic. Can’t wait to see what people come up with.

by Sora Edwards-Thro at August 19, 2014 10:29 PM

Project Rive: Reaching Students in Haiti

Last Full Day

Can’t quite believe it, but tomorrow my plane takes off and I head off to college. I think one of the things I’ll miss most about Haiti is how many choices I have – about where I want to go, … Continue reading

by Sora at August 19, 2014 04:36 PM

Unleash Kids Workshop: Bring A Story To Life

Today we launched the first of what I hope will be many monthly workshops over at our Delmas28 location. A total of four of our most experienced teachers – Fefe, Dyna, Jeanide, and Ruben – worked with a group of … Continue reading

by Sora at August 19, 2014 04:28 PM

August 17, 2014

Fargo to Sudan XO

Tissue Paper Reforms: Coding for Kindergartners | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

Tissue Paper Reforms: Coding for Kindergartners | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice.

Larry Cuban’s post provides a really nice, concise history of Logo and coding efforts.  As he notes at the end, the Papert effort can be inspiring and instructional, as it has been for our Sugar Labs effort, but we also hit a wall and have suspended the program, as Cuban would expect . : )


by kab13 at August 17, 2014 01:55 AM

August 15, 2014

Hands of Charity XO Project | Kenya

Kids Engaged in Real Life Problems: THE ANIMALS

animalsART@21

THE RHINO AND THE ELEPHANT BEFORE THE JUNGLE KING. LION THE KING

Lion King: Hi my maiden the Hare.

The Hare: I’m here to speak on behalf of the Elephant, the reason why I should speak on his behalf, is the fear due to threats of poachers who are really against its family due to the tusks the posses as part of its body part. Therefore our lords, what he needs is final decision to be made against poachers. Thank you.

The Elephant: It’s a fact, our lords. We need your intervention as a king of the Jungle family.

The Monkey: My lords, if you see me I look like a human being but I’m not because I do not poach. Ooh— my lords I stand here to speak on behalf of the rhino who is mostly endangered because of his precious horns, he was almost killed yester night but I only scared poachers who had guns and running after him. So our lords, let us have an alternative to save the rhinoceros species. Thanks our lords.

The Rhino: Our life is in danger, our lords, please take legal action to conserve our Jungle territory.

Lion the King: Ooh— my Jungle family I have had your cry and I promise to alert my security personnel to enforce law and order. Not only that, but I will by 12:00 noon after today, direct my armed forces to shoot to kill. Thank you and God bless you all.

Marketplace Center Bungoma Kids Hands of Charity & Bonaventure Masika Instructor.


by smallsolutionsbigideas at August 15, 2014 06:27 PM