January 26, 2015

OLPC School Server | George Hunt

A Solar System for Silar’s Orphanage, Port Au Prince Haiti

soraSora Edwards-Thro, a college freshman, used her 2014 Christmas break to install a solar system which she designed, funded, purchased, and installed.  60 full time residents, and perhaps 200 additional day students will benefit from 24/7 access to “Internet In a Box” wikipedia, and various online resources provided by 3G internet access which she installed. These instructional resources are now available via 20 XO laptops, which can now be charged by  via her new solar system, and a low voltage distribution system which she manufactured on site.

For additional information, and a case study of all facets of a successful solar installation see: https://schoolserver.wordpress.com/power/solar-power-for-silars-orphanage-a-case-study/


by George Hunt at January 26, 2015 12:45 AM

January 25, 2015

ICT4D Views from the Field

Cal Poly students launch Pacific Islands ICT4D efforts with creation of three new videos

In the fall quarter of 2014, three student teams at Cal Poly worked to create videos that will help spread awareness of bringing information and communications technology (ICT) into schools in remote and resource-challenged Pacific Islands locations. (Scroll down to watch the videos!)

The teams worked in collaboration with partners Ian Thomson and Shikha Raturi, who co-direct the Teacher’s Educational Resource and E-Learning Center at the University of the South Pacific in Suva, Fiji. Ian and Shikha work closely with Ministries of Education, development organizations, schools and individual teachers across the Pacific Islands. They also conduct national, regional, and local conferences and workshops that support teacher training and skills-building to promote e-learning across the Pacific. In this context, they often make use of videos to illustrate points or to stimulate creativity and/or discussion, yet none of the videos they use were focused specifically on the challenges and opportunities ICTs present for schools and education in the Pacific Islands.

P1150695

Creating some targeted, to-the-point videos on these precise topics, which could be useful for our partners in Fiji, became our team’s goal. This project took place in the context of a Technology and Public Policy class, and the challenge I issued to the students was to undertake a Learn-by-Doing public policy project that would have an impact in the real world, despite the fact that we were not able to leave our campus setting during the five weeks we worked on the project this quarter. In this case, we chose the policy-relevant activity of awareness-raising, of the public and of teachers, all the way up to policymakers, while also using the very technologies we were advocating for and demonstrating the use of. P1150690

The teams set out to understand the appropriate and desired messages to convey, the cultural contexts into which the videos would be introduced and of which the videos would attempt be representative, and the specific challenges and opportunities ICT presents for education in the Pacific Islands. Three groups were formed to further refine the videos’ content, each with a distinct target audience and message.

P1150683

Although there was variation and creativity in all of the videos, all three teams did agree on using a stop-motion whiteboard framework within the videos, to keep the continuation of the theme, visually, across all of the videos, but also because the writing out of words in a visual manner (while combining this act with the use of technology) tends to help get a message across—especially to teachers!

Screen Shot 2014-12-28 at 2.11.42 PM Screen Shot 2014-12-28 at 2.14.45 PM

The first group set its focus on policymakers, emphasizing the point that ICT in the schools can bring about significant benefits, even (and especially) in resource- and infrastructure-constrained locations, through the use of simple and robust technology.

<iframe allowfullscreen="true" class="youtube-player" frameborder="0" height="390" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/alB9SeEYF_I?version=3&amp;rel=1&amp;fs=1&amp;showsearch=0&amp;showinfo=1&amp;iv_load_policy=1&amp;wmode=transparent" type="text/html" width="640"></iframe>

The second group’s video focused on the educators themselves, demonstrating through examples some simple and straightforward, yet creative, methods for using ICT in the schools.

<iframe allowfullscreen="true" class="youtube-player" frameborder="0" height="390" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/5Il4omMNB1g?version=3&amp;rel=1&amp;fs=1&amp;showsearch=0&amp;showinfo=1&amp;iv_load_policy=1&amp;wmode=transparent" type="text/html" width="640"></iframe>

The third video’s target audience is the general public, with the goal of raising awareness of the next stage of our work: Designing, Developing, and Deploying 50 Solar-Powered All-in-One Digital Library Kits to schools across the Pacific Islands.
Please watch the video and stay tuned for updates on this exciting project!

<iframe allowfullscreen="true" class="youtube-player" frameborder="0" height="390" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/UDU4SCnwMCo?version=3&amp;rel=1&amp;fs=1&amp;showsearch=0&amp;showinfo=1&amp;iv_load_policy=1&amp;wmode=transparent" type="text/html" width="640"></iframe>

On the final day of class, the students debuted their videos, over a Skype-connected call, to our partners in Fiji. Happily, our partners were quite enthusiastic about the videos, and provided very positive responses to all 3 videos – for example: “Blown away,” “Fantastic,” and “Very impressed” were repeated phrases. We hope they will prove useful!

P1150706


by ljhosman at January 25, 2015 10:37 PM

January 24, 2015

Haiti Dreams!

Update on Ghana Trip

Adam Holt is with Unleash Kids in western Ghana these days. He has been sharing photos when he gets the chance.

Buying solar panelsDSCN1910 IMG_20150118_231624 IMG_20150118_232017 IMG_20150118_234435 IMG_20150118_093629235 IMG_20150118_094239819 IMG_20150118_123147350 IMG_20150118_124552747 IMG_20150118_151850443 IMG_20150118_152209235 IMG_20150118_155413572 IMG_20150122_235214 IMG_20150122_235256 IMG_20150122_235350 IMG_20150122_235507 IMG_20150122_235800 IMG_20150123_033215 IMG_20150123_033420 IMG_20150123_033625

IMG_20150123_033526 IMG_20150123_032951 IMG_20150123_033104

*****


by buildingaschool at January 24, 2015 03:52 AM

Nancie Severs

Cabin Fever Combat! — Lebanon, NH


Lebanon, NH

Wow! I looked up at the Calendar and it is January 17 already. How can that be? Spring came and went, summer turned to autumn in Boston, I was home by Thanksgiving, and now in mid-winter, I have completed my last cycle of chemo.

I was scheduled for chemo on December 31. Mark and I celebrated our anniversary the Sunday evening before with a quiet dinner at a favorite Inn. And then we got a New Year’s Eve reprieve. My platelets were too low to safely have the chemo. I was feeling mostly fine and we had a lovely holiday after all.

I had the chemo on January 7. Noah had come from Bangkok for a visit and his perfect timing enabled him to be with me in Boston for the last treatment cycle. He was there for the very first one on July 7 and for the last one on January 7. We all know that 7 is a lucky number. I am DONE!

Medical professionals agree that the treatment protocol I had, chemo&gt;radiation&gt;more chemo, was a tough one. My white counts and red blood cells and platelets have been chronically low&gt;affecting my energy. And it’s mid-winter in New Hampshire. The temperature hovers below freezing. Often it’s below 0 F. The days are short and we count the ones with bright sunshine. If it’s too cold, sleeting, freezing rain or slick and icy, we can’t always exercise outside. Everyone I meet has a touch of winter “low energy.” We call it Cabin Fever.
Is winter Cabin Fever so different from "cancer cabin fever?"

Ways to Combat Cabin Fever:
Dress for the weather, &amp; when dry, get outside and exercise. Ski or snowshoe or take a walk. It was -8 degrees F the other day. I still bundle up and hike out for our newspaper &amp; mail. I haven’t done much more than that yet. But after a snowstorm, you can be sure that I’ll be out in the sun for a walk in fresh fluffy snow.

Find your favorite gym or yoga studio. Going is the hard part. Show up and magic happens.

Attend the art, music or film events around the Upper Valley. Dartmouth College has a full array of Performing Arts &amp; Films. Last week there was a classical South Indian Dance Performance, a master dance class and a dance talk about “Gods in Motion.” The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center was here last Wednesday, followed by Argentinean Theater on Thursday &amp; Friday. And the Hop Winter Film Schedule has showings on Fridays, Saturdays &amp; Sundays. Every week that Dartmouth is in session there are similar reasonably priced things to do:

https://hop.dartmouth.edu/Online/perfor mances?menu_id=B8310665-E8E3-44EB-8210- 4EAB593E4BEE&amp;sToken=1%2C3ff060d0%2C 54bada71%2C1A033874-9F29-468B-A9F2-2F41 8130DC12%2CJd88p1Llz54wojSXH9AEp92F38I% 3D

Elsewhere in the Upper Valley, Check out the Canoe Club’s schedule here:
http://www.canoeclub.us/calendar or any of the other restaurant venues that have entertainment.

Northern Stage in White River Junction (Vermont) has its second annual New Play Festival with 2 readings and a musical this weekend. http://northernstage.org/buy-now/2014-2 015-season/
Pentangle Arts in Woodstock, VT has a community theater performance of Fiddler on the Roof. http://www.pentanglearts.org/

Yes, winter can be hard up here. But it has its gifts. We notice the lengthening daylight and appreciate the beauty nature brings. The lack of big city traffic &amp; commuting = &lt; stress. When there’s a storm, everything is cancelled and we stay home. And then eventually, spring comes.

Friends wonder &amp; some ask now what? I’m addressing the symptoms &amp; side effects of the chemo and radiation with the best professionals and practices I can conveniently access. I’ll have regular checkups with scans and labs and physicals to watch for signs of recurrence. Cathy my DF nurse practitioner, advised me: “Go live. Return to traveling around the world or whatever it is you do or want to do. Think of yourself as living with a chronic illness. We are here for you when you have symptoms that rear up. We’ll treat them again and again as needed and you’ll go on with your life.”

I am grateful I have not stopped "living” through this 9 month blip. When the cold winter wind hits me in the face I feel alive. And when the warm sun returns to shines on me, I'll feel alive then too. Treasure each day, right here, right now.

January 24, 2015 01:26 AM

January 22, 2015

Sugar Digest / Walter Bender

Sugar Digest 2015-01-21

Sugar Digest

In schools, all hardware and software bestow agency on one of three parties: the system, the teacher, or the learner. Typically, two of these actors lose their power as the technology benefits the third. Ask a group of colleagues to create a three-column table and brainstorm the hardware or software in your school and who is granted agency by each. Management software, school-wide grade-book programs, integrated learning systems, school-to-home communication packages, massive open online courses (MOOCs), and other cost-cutting technologies grant maximum benefit to the system. Interactive whiteboards, worksheet generators, projectors, whole-class simulations, plagiarism software, and so on, benefit the teacher. Personal laptops, programming languages, creativity software, cameras, MIDI keyboards, microcontrollers, fabrication equipment, and personal web space primarily benefit (bestow agency to) the
learner. — Gary Stager

1. Google Code-In. Wow. Finally a chance to catch my breath. Seven intense weeks: 60 students completed more than 300 tasks for Sugar Labs. The impact on Sugar Labs was even greater this year than in the previous years we have participated: more diversity among the participants, the mentors, the tasks, and a spirit of collaboration while striving for excellence prevailed throughout the contest. Thanks to Google and Stephanie Taylor for giving us this opportunity, to the contestants who not only did great work but taught me a thing or two along the way, and the mentors and community members who manned the IRC channel 24/7.

I want to acknowledge the Top Ten+ from whom we will be selecting our finalists this week (results announce in early February):

Ignacio Rodríguez, Daksh, samdroid, cristian99garcia, Ezequiel Pereira, svineet, Gtrinidad, Jas Park, Rafael Cordano, Richar, Sergio Britos, Aishmita Kakkar, Gabriel Lee, et al.

Also, some mentors (and community members) deserve special recognition: Andrés Aguirre, Daniel Francis, Gary Servin, Gonzalo Odiard, James Cameron, Jorge Ramirez, Mariah Villarreal, Rajul, Rodrigo Parra, and Martin Abente Lahaye.

Finally, a few projects worth mentioning:

* Turtle Blocks JS plugins (Ignacio, samDroid, Daksh)
* Turtle Blocks guides (Jas Park) TurtleBlocksIntroductoryManual and TurtleBlocksAdvancedBlocksManual
* Activity reviews (Gabriel Lee)
* Dasher app (Cristian Garcia)
* Enhancements to Physics (Svineet)
* Sugar bugs squashed (Ezequiel)
* Butia Measure (Gtrinidad)
* Simple scrolling interface for Sugar (Rafael)
and much much more.

2. As mentioned above, we have a number of new Turtle Blocks plugins (for both the Python and Javascript versions) as a result of Google Code-in. One of the more interesting inspirations for plugins comes from mashape.com, a repository of APIs for everything from translation services to a bicycle theft alert system. As Sugar becomes more web-friendly, we can take advantage of web services and also facilitate our users to craft their own tools and services. It is fun and empowering.

In the community

3. The Free Software Foundation has put together a nice video on the core ideas behind Free Software.

Tech Talk

4. Xevents is a TurtleBlocks plugin that makes it easy to design different types of accessibility interfaces through a variery of physical sensors types. It is being developed at FING by Andrés Aguirre and Alan Aguiar and was the focus of some of the Google Code-in work of Rafael Cordano.

5. For you OLPC XO 4 users, James Cameron has been working on enabling the second processor. He reports “about 38% improvement. For CPU tasks like rendering, alt/tab, kernel compiles, the improvement is somewhat more than 38%. For single threaded tasks that rely on memory bandwidth, performance is lower because the memory controller is shared between two cores.” When asked how it impacts Sugar, he said “it feels faster and more responsive.”

6. Martin has announced the tarballs for the last 0.103.x UNSTABLE release of Sugar before 0.104 STABLE. (We delayed the release a few weeks in order to take advantage of all of the bug fixes coming in from Google Code-in.) With this release we reach the API, UI and String freeze (See 0.104/Roadmap.

* http://download.sugarlabs.org/sources/sucrose/glucose/sugar/sugar-0.103.2.tar.xz
* http://download.sugarlabs.org/sources/sucrose/glucose/sugar-toolkit-gtk3/sugar-toolkit-gtk3-0.103.2.tar.xz
* http://download.sugarlabs.org/sources/sucrose/glucose/sugar-artwork/sugar-artwork-0.103.2.tar.xz
* http://download.sugarlabs.org/sources/sucrose/glucose/sugar-datastore/sugar-datastore-0.103.2.tar.xz
* http://download.sugarlabs.org/sources/sucrose/glucose/sugar-runner/sugar-runner-0.103.2.tar.xz

It’s time to switch focus on updating translations, everyone can contribute through or new Pootle instance. We have time until February 13, before the 0.104.0 STABLE release.

Sugar Labs

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

by Walter Bender at January 22, 2015 01:14 AM

January 20, 2015

OLE Nepal

Connecting local writers to read-aloud books

Children enjoy listening to stories. During our childhood, we remember asking our parents, grandparents or anyone elder to us, for amusing and interesting stories, simply because we enjoyed immersing ourselves in the world of fantasy. Besides proving pleasure, hearing stories has several benefits. It stimulates children’s minds, cultivates reading habits and increases their ability to [...]

by Sawal Acharya at January 20, 2015 03:42 AM

January 18, 2015

Haiti Dreams!

Unleash Kids is off to Ghana

(This is written by the parents of Adam Holt. It is exactly 50 years since we taught school in West Africa and travelled in these countries. Very exciting to see these updates!)

Photos being shared from Coastal Ghana. There have been travel glitches, but all in all, an eye opening exciting experience. Some of the early photos from Accra: people, architecture, market crafts, train tracks, casino lights.IMG_20150112_110125490b IMG_20150112_112152442b IMG_20150112_113012427b IMG_20150112_114559659b IMG_20150112_154020619_HDRb IMG_20150112_155501227b IMG_20150112_155829652b IMG_20150112_221025407bAnd then a few more….kites, little people, hardware and food for sale,  point to what ailes you, masks, fabric, letter writers (typewriters!) and more.IMG_20150114_151643838 IMG_20150114_162502509_HDR IMG_20150114_165933846 IMG_20150114_174231904_HDR IMG_20150114_175619511 IMG_20150114_182552842 IMG_20150115_101456173 IMG_20150115_101521481B IMG_20150115_110450857

 

IMG_20150115_112656736_HDR IMG_20150115_115131474_HDR  IMG_20150116_155204537B

Today was a shopping day for our son in Accra, Ghana, for electronic materials for a girls school nearby:
[Solar/battery/wire supplies acquired here in town today after much scrambling/research over past 36 hrs especially to piece together a Girls High School’s digital library they’re calling Internet-in-a-Box.
Representing 6 months of procurement, coming to a close, or very close..Ghana strangely has very little clue about solar energy for now.
This store’s actually called “DEVICE: tech addiction”]

IMG_20150116_203420899B

IMG_20150116_162712558_HDRB

“Thanks to George & Ishmael who took time to drive us around and make calls from their old van Thur/Fri. Since they were both raised in the town where we’re headed, they hope these education ventures lead the dying slave port town in some more hopeful directions.
In this photo, George is just counting the small notes with Maryanne, paying 1000 GH₵ for two 100W solar panels, at a huge/empty engineering supplier “Deng Ltd” who service generators / inverters etc all around the region including Liberia etc.This is about US $300.”

IMG_20150116_135532426_HDRb*****


by buildingaschool at January 18, 2015 01:44 AM

January 14, 2015

Juan Chacon Free Software & Education | El Salvador

Cambell's Law

I've had a gut feeling that the data driven decision making that has become the mantra guiding our educational practice in US schools these days is actually harmful to students and education.  I can sense that the problem is related in some way to the erroneous assumption that you can separate the observer from the observed - that the educational system can both gather data on itself and use this data to effectively improve its own practice.

In the case of a political, bureaucratic system like a public school system, relying on data points to determine the effectiveness of our efforts, and then doling out rewards and punishments based on these data points guarantees that it is the data points that will soon take on primary value, regardless of what they actually mean regarding student growth and development.

It is with great delight that I came across this entry on Wikipedia on Cambell's law.  I take comfort in finding a statement by a well known and respected personage of what I was trying to say stated much better than I could say it:
The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor.
Donald T. Cambell

by jelkner (noreply@blogger.com) at January 14, 2015 04:25 PM

January 10, 2015

Nancie Severs

Pain is Inevitable; Suffering is Optional. — Lebanon, NH


Lebanon, NH

I’m finally home from Boston. I went to Boston with a suitcase. After 2 months, I somehow had a full car to move home. My sister Lynn was a huge help. I woke up feeling like I could make the move; we rented a car, she packed it and drove me home. Thank you Lynn!

My Update: I’ve completed 4 cycles of chemo, 6 weeks of daily external pelvic radiation, &amp; some brachytherapy. 2 more chemo cycles to go and my Boston oncologist will re-evaluate things. After the last chemo &amp; Neulasta shot to boost my white counts, I was again under the weather for about 6 days. Now I can pretty much plan on a “sick” week, and then I feel better until the next chemo. Before I started treatment, a Dartmouth doctor told me "those last 3 chemos will be BRUTAL because your bone marrow will be so depleted by then." So I began this round of treatment with trepidation. Frankly, I was ready to quit, and just say I've done enough already. That was not a helpful thought to put into my head. But I trudged forward and guess what? Not "brutal." It's not so bad. Mind over matter does work and as long as I prioritize my exercise and yoga, I'll get through this part too. I am avoiding crowds as my white counts have been low for months. I have to be extra careful not to be exposed to illness or infection. That could cause a serious setback. So if you see me around, please greet me with an "elbow bump" or a "virtual hug" instead of a handshake, kiss or hug.

Thanksgiving week: Fall has quickly turned to winter in New Hampshire. We already have a foot of snow. Lynn left to meet Elana and friends in the Chicago/Michigan area. After much debate Mark and I decided on a quiet Thanksgiving at home with home-cooked turkey. It was quite a bit of work to cook for just the two of us &amp; we had enough food for company. But we enjoyed the day and we are enjoying the leftovers.

Last year I was in Bangkok for Thanksgiving. I recall fond memories of Noah’s friend, Josh’s beautiful and delicious Thanksgiving party. As you can see from my other Travelpod blogs, I love to travel, and have done so often in the past 8 years. My need for cancer treatment now has altered the vehicle. Now I’m traveling in a comfy chair.:)

Over the past few weeks I have enjoyed following the blog of my friend's Craig &amp; Jeri's trip to Japan &amp; SE Asia here: http://seasiajeriandcraig.blogspot.com/

And, I have been reading the famous travel writer, Paul Theroux, again. This time I chose his “Ghost Train to the Eastern Star.” when I found the delicious hardback copy at a local used bookstore. 30 years ago, the author traveled overland &amp; water from London through Europe and Eastern Europe, through Turkey, Georgia and the Russian “Stans” all the way to India. From India, Sri Lanka, through Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, China, Japan and back to London via Russia, and then Germany and France. Hundreds of thousands of readers have been privileged to travel with him on “The Great Railway Bazaar.” In 2006, 30 years later, Paul wonders “how has the world changed? and recreates the trip in the “Ghost Train to the Eastern Star: On the Tracks of the Great Railway Bazaar”

I have been reading it slowly over the past couple of months, accompanying Paul on one or two trip legs at a time. It’s colorful and moody evoking all of the emotions that seasoned travelers well understand. I have enjoyed the visions he creates of places I have never been and his global cast of characters. When “we” arrived in Burma, now Myanmar, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia (this was his first visit there as Cambodia was at war during his first trip) and Vietnam, I “came home with him.” In Vietnam where Paul had been during the “American War,” he is often asked what he thinks about that. Eloquently, he says something like “I am glad to see Vietnam prospering and I am sad about the bombings.” I’ll have to remember that one.

Now we are in Japan where I have never been. Thank you Craig (see link above) for your wonderful photos of Japan. They dovetail with my reading. I have been savoring each leg of the journey. We are touring Tokyo. Paul’s friend, the famous author, Haruki Murakami (Underground) takes us on a city tour. I’m hungry for noodles in the “old shop” on a small back street near the Kappa Bashi, where traditional Japanese kitchen tools are sold. Old is relative. All the shops, and every building are post WWII of course.

We went Underground and find contrast to what “seems to be a world of order and decency and restraint.” At one point, Paul observed that “someone said pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.”

That’s my thought for the day. I might have pain but I refuse to suffer. I know that as long as I keep myself moving, walking and practicing yoga, I can do this! Reminiscing on my past trips, and the ones to come will keep me smiling. I've chosen "a few" of my favorite photos from my trips for "this travelogue." Enjoy them.

Wishing you lovely holidays with family and friends! Nancie:)

P.S. Click any photo to scroll through all of the photos in larger images. And please respect my "copyrights." If you would like to share or use one, please ask first and give a photo credit.


January 10, 2015 11:01 PM

Hands of Charity XO Project | Kenya

Vacation Science Camp

WP_20141230_054fredkidstrash

Children gather for the holiday break Science Camp activities.  (left), Team leader, and students collecting plastic trash for examination, recycling, reuse and education.

“The participants went through the streets collecting waste plastic materials that are non-biodegradable. They carried the collected materials for recycling as best way of avoiding pollution.We found market dwellers burning trash including the plastics which perpetuates pollution. We did otherwise.”

JIGGERS PROJECT:

Jiggers are small bugs that are in dry soil and dirt in homes and school yards.  The crawl into skin breaks in children’s feet and cause infections.  This year the Hands of Charity Vacation Science Camp visited  families affected by jiggers.

“Thanks a lot to sponsors,youths took time as prepared by teachers and facilitators to visit victims of jigger infestation in remote villages. They really felt for them. The objective was to teach our children to observe hygiene, keep a clean environment  and learn how to take care of others.They were really moved.”

WP_20141230_074WP_20141230_072

 

 

Thank you New England Biolabs for funding this project and thank you  Bonaventure, Fred, Rose, Shallie, Nellie, Dorcas and all the others who made this activity possible for these students.


by smallsolutionsbigideas at January 10, 2015 10:02 PM

January 09, 2015

OLE Nepal

Preparing XO-4 Laptops For Bajhang Phase II

I enjoy watching Factory Made. I have always been keen in understanding and knowing the effort behind creation of products I use. They fascinate me. I got a chance to understand  similar creation of a product at OLE Nepal. It was to test 53 boxes of newly arrived XO-4 laptops. It all started with an [...]

by Peter Kayastha at January 09, 2015 08:46 AM

January 08, 2015

Juan Chacon Free Software & Education | El Salvador

Apache Cordova Development Environment Setup on Ubuntu 14.04

This is my "Happy New Year" post.  I had a goal over Winter break to find a process my students could use to setup an Apache Cordova development environment on their Ubuntu 14.04 laptops (I'm actually using Peppermint OS 5, which is a great light weight version of Ubuntu 14.04).

After several days of false starts and dead ends, I finally came up with something that works. I never succeeded in getting an Ubuntu environment working, and decided to give up on that for now until things settle down and the Ubuntu development team makes the process easier for beginners.  Firefox OS was wonderfully simple, and will definitely be my preferred choice of target system when introducing this to my students.  Android was only a bit more troublesome, since it involved the dreaded Oracle Java, but thankfully Cordova will shield us from having to deal with that directly once we have it setup.

Setup for Building Firefox OS Apps

 

Install Apache Cordova CLI And Create Hello App

$ sudo apt-add-repository -y ppa:cordova-ubuntu/ppa
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install cordova-cli
Everything else we need to develop for Firefox OS is now built into the browser (how cool is that!? ;-) To make and run the Hello App, choose a good location for the project code, and:
$ cordova create hello
$ cd hello
$ cordova platform add firefoxos
$ cordova build
That's all there is to building the app for Firefox OS.  We now have a ./platforms/firefoxos/www directory that contains our app.  What we need now is an emulator to run it on.  The latest Firefox makes this a snap:
  • Open WebIDE in Firefox by pressing Shift+F8.
  •  Click Select Runtime and select Install Simulator, then choose a simulator (I choose the latest one marked "stable", 2.0 at the time I'm writing this) and click install.
  • Click Select Runtime again and click on your simulator. An emulator is launched running Firefox OS (if only life could always be this easy! ;-)
  • Back in the WebIDE window, click on Open App, then select Open Packaged App ... and navigate to the./platforms/firefoxos/www directory inside the hello directory and click Open.
  • The previous step will load the source directory into WebIDE.  Click the run button in the top center of the WebIDE window (it is a triangle next to a square), and we are rewarded with a running app.

 
Granted, it doesn't do much yet, but this was by far the most pain free process I experienced in my several days of trying to get cordova apps running on emulators.

Setup for Building Android Apps


To build for Android will require dealing with the evil Oracle Java environment and setting up the Android SDK, but the fine folks at the webupd8team and ubuntu-desktop teams have made this easy to do, and cordova will then permit us to develop with HTML, CSS and JavaScript and take care of the rest for us:

Install the Oracle Java 7 JDK 

$ sudo add-apt-repository -y ppa:webupd8team/java 
$ sudo apt-get update 
$ sudo apt-get install oracle-java7-installer oracle-java7-set-default

Install Ubuntu Make 

$ sudo add-apt-repository -y ppa:ubuntu-desktop/ubuntu-make 
$ sudo apt-get update 
$ sudo apt-get install ubuntu-make ant

Install Android Studio and SDK

  • $ umake android
  • Choose the installation path (I choose /home/<username>/.local/tools/android/android-studio to keep things from cluttering my home directory).
  • [I Accept (a)/I don't accept (N)] a
  • Wait while Android Studio downloads and installs… Installation done
  • Start Android Studio from menu (Programming -> Android Studio on Peppermint or use the Dash on regular Ubuntu).
  • [I do not have previous version…] OK [Setup Wizard - Welcome] Next [Custom] Next
  • Android SDK Location: /home/<username>/.local/android/sdk (again, I put things in .local to avoid clutter).
  • Next [Accept] Finish … Long wait while everything installs … Finish
  • Create a .bashrc file (or add to the one you already have) with the following: 
ANDROID_HOME=$HOME/.local/android/sdk 
PATH=$ANDROID_HOME/tools:$ANDROID_HOME/platform-tools:$PATH


export PATH ANDROID_HOME
  • Start the Android SDK Manager with $ android
  • Select Android 4.4.2 (API 19) and click Install 16 packages… [Accept License] Install
We now have the Android development environment setup.  Cordova CLI integrates nicely with this.  All we need to do to add Android as a target platform for our Hello App is to run the following from inside our hello directory:
$ cordova platform add android
$ cordova build
$ cordova run android

Developing for mobile platforms is becoming a compelling thing for me to do as an IT/CS teacher to maintain student interest in learning.  Cordova makes it possible to use the tools we have already been learning, HTML, CSS and JavaScript, to start working on mobile platforms.

Next: Find good tutorials for learning cordova.

by jelkner (noreply@blogger.com) at January 08, 2015 02:15 AM

January 06, 2015

OLE Nepal

Balancing the act of duty and wanderlust

It was 5 a.m. and the sound of an alarm clock woke me up. I got up, got ready, grabbed my bags, and headed to the OLE Nepal office where my colleague Deepa was waiting for me. For a head start, we had packed all the necessary equipments, laptops, stationeries and other documents properly a [...]

by Sabrina at January 06, 2015 07:40 AM

January 04, 2015

Sean Collins' Haitian Voyage

Final Reflection

            Sean Collins<o:p></o:p>
ML 390<o:p></o:p>
Professor Law-Sullivan <o:p></o:p>
January 4, 2015<o:p></o:p>
I have for a long time been fascinated with technology.  Computer and information technology has brought with it tremendous potential.  A child with a smart phone in Africa has greater access to information than the president did 30 years ago.  My fascination with technology and my desire to become a teacher lead me to contact One Laptop per Child.  The organizations mission was just that. To give a piece of technological hardware to each kid in the developing world. They distributed close to 3 million units worldwide.  OLPC failed to provide much follow up though.  Their distribution was a roaring success, but they failed to provide the necessary tech and educational support to make the project sustainable.  OLPC put me in contact with an organization called Unleash Kids.  Unleash Kids was set up by former OLPC people to be the support team.  The non-profit works in countries all around the world updating software and providing education using the laptops as tools.    I started my Haitian voyage in February of 2014 when I began learning Haitian Creole, and studying the XO laptops’ hardware and software.  I continued to educate myself on Haitian history, culture and current events throughout the spring and summer.  Fall came and I flew down to Haiti to start my three month journey.  <o:p></o:p>
             I began my voyage in the country’s capital, Port-au-Prince.    Landing in the airport you are thrown right into the chaos that is the city.  Taxi drivers line the exit reaching for your bags and telling you that they are there to pick you up.  I had arranged a ride beforehand and informed them that I did not need their services.  I got in contact with my driver and he drove me to my first location, Haiti Communitere.  It became my home base whenever I was in the city.  The next 10 days were spent bouncing around the city teaching at various schools.  My first day was spent visiting with a cellphone company to get myself a SIM card.  I was met by Haitian translator named Jeanide and we ventured into the city.   My first impression of the city was overwhelming.  I first noted the condition of the road leading up to the intersection, it was run down and riddled with holes.  We got to the main road and crossed the path that ran over the drainage ditch.  I was taken aback by the amount of trash that lined the sidewalk, road, and ditch. Plastic bags, Styrofoam take out containers, plastic and glass bottles, everywhere I looked I saw trash.  I watched my step as we walked toward the intersection.  As we grew closer it got more and more crowded, and the street vendors started to pop up.  Not many white people live in or visit Haiti, and out of the ones that do, very few roam the city.  I drew a lot of attention from the street vendors anxious to make a sale.  These vendors sell anything from computer parts, to shoes, to shampoo.  Haiti has super markets, but the traditional style market place environment still thrives.  <o:p></o:p>
We crossed the street and climbed into the back of a brightly colored truck with benches on either sides.  I received intrigued looks from all the passengers and greeted them in Creole. We drove a while up the road and I was able to see more and more of the city outside truck.  The country is still struggling five years after the quake, and still many live in temporary shelters.  Internally Displaced Person’s (IDP) camps are set up right off of the main roads.  The shelters are nothing more than tarps draped over crude frames, and still today they house thousands of people.  We continued up road and drew closer and closer to Petionville, an upper class community just outside of Port-au-Prince.  The city of Petionville houses delegates, government officials, and majority of the wealthy elite.  The shacks slowly turned into building and the building slowly grew nicer and nicer.  The disparity was quite obvious, and I did not need to be told when we made it to our destination.  The buildings became more and more industrial, and the streets became cleaner.  The cars became more luxurious, as did the style of the average person.  There were far less street vendors, and far more shops.  We had only traveled a few miles, but it seemed a world away.  <o:p></o:p>
Upper level education in Haiti is done in French. There is very little creole resources for learning so the emphasis is understandable.  In Port-au-Prince the signs are in Creole. “Pa bwe li w’ap kondi” “Don’t drink and drive” is a sign in creole that you see in the capital.  When you get to Petionville the signs switch to French. “J’ (heart) PV” Is a clear play on the “I (heart) NYC” concept. The creole way to do so would be Mwen (heart) PV.  But the advertiser chose to use French instead of creole.  It seems strange, but it is an accurate reflection on the correlation between language, education, and social status.  Whites and Mullatos (half white half black), are more often than not members of the wealthy elite, which is a product of the country’s imperial history.  As a result of this, more often than not I was greeted in French rather than Creole.  “Como sa va?” is how the French ask “how are you?”  In Creole the way to ask is “Koman ou ye?” I came to learn both and how to respond to either, but it was an interesting assumption being made.<o:p></o:p>
We arrived at our destination in Petionville and Jeanide and I walked into the air conditioned 15 story building. We waited around for a while, but eventually my questions were answered and I was able to get what I needed.  I was set up with 10 GBs of data a month to keep me connected.  We journeyed back to Communitere and began to lesson plan for the week ahead.  I set up a series of science related lessons that would use the laptops to teach the kids the scientific method, while exploring different concepts.  I plan to eventually become a high school physics teacher, so it was good to get a sneak preview of what I will be doing.  The younger kids especially are always excited to have a guest teacher.  The Haitian education system is 90% private. The emphasis at these private schools are almost always on test scores, and fact based retention.  I fundamentally disagree that this is an effective model for education, and was happy to bring some hands on learning.  With the kids in Port-au-Prince, we did sound experiments, played music, and built rockets using the XOs as tools.  The classes and the kids in them helped me form amazing memories that I will cherish forever.  <o:p></o:p>
After my stay in Port-au-Prince I headed west to Grand Goave.  There I stayed with Pastor Lexidan Edime, and his wife Renee.  The couple helps run a school of around 300 kids from the surrounding town. Grand Goave is a beach community, and it is an even more laid back atmosphere than Port-au-Prince.  My first day there was Sunday and I joined the pastor and his wife on their trip to church. I am not religious by any means, but I can appreciate what it means for a lot of people.  I was raised catholic and have been to church plenty of times, but Haitian church is unlike any other.  The people pulled out their nicest clothes, and piled in one by one.  The service began and the music got the congregation on their feet moving to the rhythm.  The people were more engaged than any church goers I have ever seen.  So many Haitians really seem to rely on their faith.  I assume because of the hope that it brings.  Life in Haiti is unfortunately difficult.  A kid born in Haiti does not have nearly the same chance at social mobility that a kid in the states does.  I was fortunate enough to have the chance pursue my dream on teaching, but for a lot of the kids in Haiti, they do not have the resources to follow their dreams.  Religion gives people hope, and purpose.  The hard life is forgotten and instead it is replaced by faith.  I remain agnostic, but I definitely have a new found appreciation for what religion can mean to people.  <o:p></o:p>
During my three weeks in Grand Goave I taught two classes a day every day.  This gave me the chance to develop relationships with my students, and teach them to be self-reliant with technology.  It was amazing to see the transformation with each kid start to finish.  The shy older kids slowly came out of their shells and began to explore the laptops more and more.  The preloaded Wikipedia software sparked their imagination and I was happy to explain any questions that arose.  My time in the beach community was well spent.  I will hold onto the relationships I formed there for a long time.  There were some truly inspiring kids and I think of them often.  <o:p></o:p>
From Grand Goave I headed northeast to Hinche.  There I did a lot of technical work repairing the school server.  The bureaucracy that exists at the school was extremely difficult to work through, but eventually I was able to get things squared away.  The weekend before I left I went to a tourist attraction in Hinche called Bassin Zim.  The park is home to a brilliant waterfall and a few caves. The local kids serve as tour guides on the weekend.  A group of 5th graders took me up the path and helped me along showing me the sights.  Between my Creole and their English we were able to talk and we had a fun time climbing, running, and swimming.  The kids were happy to have me and I was happy to see them.  After we finished our adventure I said my goodbyes, I went back and got some rest.  The next day it was back to the city for a few days.   <o:p></o:p>
Back in Port-au-Prince I had to do some more technical work repairing school servers.  We unloaded from our van and hoped into a truck.  I remember this moment distinctly because as we loaded in a woman with a three year old child and a sack of potatoes climbed in.  She was worried about her small child sitting at the back of the truck, so she simply passed him forward to a complete stranger.  The Haitian community really is looking out for each other. The woman got off at her stop and we passed the kid along to her.  She thanked us and was on her way. <o:p></o:p>
My final stop on my trip was Bois D’Avril.  It is an extremely small village in the mountains, and it is unlike any place in Haiti, or the world that I have ever been.  There I stayed with a Baha’I couple John and Deb.  The two moved there 35 years ago and raised their three kids there.  Their house sits on the top of a hill at 6000 feet elevation.  The house is less than 10 miles from Port-au-Prince, but the elevation and seclusion makes it seem like you are in a place more like the Upper Peninsula.  Pine trees and open fields are everywhere. The village sits just below John and Deb’s house, and is home to about 25 people.    I took my brother here and he agreed that it truly is paradise.  The people do not see much outsiders but were extremely welcoming. Whenever I decide to visit Haiti again, I will for sure be paying the village a visit.  <o:p></o:p>

My Haitian voyage was a long journey full of plenty of adventure.  I was nervous going in, but I was fortunate to meet some great people who put my mind at ease. The support I received from people on the ground and back home was extremely valuable, and I am grateful for it.  The people I got to know and the experiences I have had will last me for a life time.  I went in wishing to fulfill a dream and I could not be happier with the result. I hope that I have impacted the lives of those kids as much as they have impacted me.  For most, it is a tough road ahead. I just hope that I sparked their imaginations and gave them some hope.                   <o:p></o:p>

by Sean Collins (noreply@blogger.com) at January 04, 2015 10:48 PM

January 03, 2015

Sugar Labs Argentina

2014 at work

Time to do a balance, at least related to the work I did in the year.
As I found difficult remember all I did in the year, and we moved to GitHub,did a few scripts and used the statistics provided by the site.


First, a disclaimer. Measure work in commits as any other way of measure,have a very relative value. Different work have difficult than can't be compared. In my case, work in activities usually is much easier and fast than work in the toolkit or Sugar. At times reviews and testing the work of other takes a lot of time, and so. But these are the numbers I have, then, let's play with that.

This is a distribution of the commits in the different repositories I maintain:
 

Of course, many hackers contributed to these projects. From the logs I can find to: Aneesh Dogra, Cristian García,Daksh Shah,gauravp94, Goutam, Guillermo Trinidad,Ignacio Rodríguez, James Cameron, Martin Abente Lahaye, Sai Vineet, Sam Parkinson and Sebastian Silva. Paul Cotton provided improved designs for many activities.

My Open Source Report Card say I am one of the 8% most active Python users... I suppose that is pretty good, but more than nothing, could be because I have the fortune of do all my work in the open.

This year, I released a version of art4apps module, and new versions of Develop, Domino, Finance, FotoToon, Help, ImageViewer, Log, Maze, Memorize, Poll and Read. Many improvements in these activities were developed by students participating in Google Summer of Code and Google Code In contests.

I was lucky to of participate in the Young Hackers Summit in Montevideo, and travel to San Francisco to represent SugarLabs in the Google CodeIn Summit with the contest winners Ignacio Rodríguez and  Jorge Gomez.

Finally, I am happy to note we organized with the help of Manuel Quiñones and Martin Abente the first SugarLabs Backgrounds Contest and that backgrounds will be available in the next version of Sugar.

by Gonzalo Odiard (noreply@blogger.com) at January 03, 2015 06:52 AM

December 29, 2014

Haiti Dreams!

Reaching Students in Haiti

<header class="entry-header">

Solar for Silar

</header>

A little awhile ago, we plugged in the final component to the solar power system here at the orphanage. There’s still some tweaks to be made over the coming week, but I can officially report that everything is actually working. We’ll be able to provide 24/7 power to the server, charge 25 laptops, and light 10 rooms during the evening hours. Before, the city was only giving 5 hours of power a day, on a good day. Now, the 65 kids here don’t have to wait for the grid to switch on. As long as there’s sun, they’ll have access whenever they want to computers and Internet. And there’s plenty of sun here.

I want to take this opportunity to thank three groups that made this possible: Oyster Point Rotary Club, the Rotary Club of City Center, and the Office of Community Engagement at William & Mary. We’ve installed a pretty ambitious set-up here, and we would never have been able to dream so big without their support.

Unloading panels from the truck.

Unloading the panel off the truck.

Heading up the stairs with one of the panels.

Heading up the stairs with one of the panels.

Silar talking about the right angle for the sun to hit things.

Silar talking about the right angle for the sun to hit things.

Passing wire through the window to the battery room.

Passing wire through the window to the battery room.

Hooking up the panels.

Hooking up the panels.

Of course, none of this would be possible without people also contributing their energy and expertise. Thanks to the Unleash Kids team – this is the fourth solar installation our members have worked on in Haiti, and they’re getting bigger and better every time. Also, shout out to Ben and Shuyan, who stepped in at the last moment to build some charging set-ups for the school they support and then generously let us borrow one to use at the orphanage instead. Finally, Silar himself, the pastor in charge of the orphanage here, used to be an electrician. In the end, when I say “we”, I actually mean “Silar did it while I watched and Adam and George advised on the phone.” Of course, I’m learning a lot through this whole process too, and gradually getting to the point where I can do a little more.

When I went to the hardware store here in Haiti to buy the last pieces, there were some other foreigners also looking at panels. They turned out to be a solar installation group from a university. They asked what I came here for, and the list was a little longer: “Well, we do solar, but we also work with servers and Internet. Plus laptops. And, you know, education.” Sometimes, all those pieces really do feel overwhelming. Often, at least one of them is getting to be extremely frustrating, at any given moment. But, at the end of the day, I’m glad our group is looking at the whole picture. Our volunteers don’t just address half of the problem. We look at it all, and we keep coming back, making improvements, and moving forward.

~~~~~~~

I am a proud friend of the Unleash Kids team. I have visited Silar and am thrilled with this project. This system is quite revolutionary using only 24V Direct Current across the buildings to save energy: The goal will be to help Silar month-by-month graphing his different kinds of electrical usages (and internet usages) to better enable his 70+ kids.


by buildingaschool at December 29, 2014 03:20 PM

December 27, 2014

Project Rive: Reaching Students in Haiti

Solar for Silar

A little awhile ago, we plugged in the final component to the solar power system here at the orphanage. There’s still some tweaks to be made over the coming week, but I can officially report that everything is actually working. … Continue reading

by Sora at December 27, 2014 03:17 AM

Lascahobas Workshops: Final Review

After five pretty intense days, it’s worth considering how much was accomplished and how much farther we have to go. In terms of the actual writing process, I was pretty impressed with what the teachers produced. Many had never used … Continue reading

by Sora at December 27, 2014 02:55 AM

Fifth Workshop Day: Last Session!

This was the last full day of the workshop, and I’m pleased to report that in many ways it was also the best. Although it was Saturday, people left behind their friends and families in order to get together one … Continue reading

by Sora at December 27, 2014 02:53 AM

Fourth Workshop Day: The Root of the Problem

The fourth day of the workshop was supposed to start with an hour of work followed by a little time to work with the kids, but unfortunately the kids came early and the teachers came late. The kids ended up … Continue reading

by Sora at December 27, 2014 02:50 AM

Third Workshop Day: Putting Words on Screens

By the third day of the workshop, we were finally ready to start writing. I figured it might be easier to have a conversation about how to go about doing that if everyone was looking at the same list, so … Continue reading

by Sora at December 27, 2014 02:43 AM

Second Workshop Day: ‘Uit’ or ‘Wit’?

The second day of the workshop, we had to get into the nitty-gritty of how to build a phonics system pretty early on. I got out the XO laptops and hooked everyone up to the server, where we’d stored a … Continue reading

by Sora at December 27, 2014 02:40 AM

First Workshop Day: Open Mouths

Bernadette, my community partner here, brought together a really good group for me: 4 men, 4 women, all in their 20s. They live here in Lascahobas (or in the ‘outside’ areas); 7 work as teachers at Bernadette’s school or another … Continue reading

by Sora at December 27, 2014 02:38 AM

December 25, 2014

OLPC Basecamp @ Malacca, Malaysia

A Year in Summary (2014)

The year 2014 is coming to an end. Wishing everyone a Happy New Year.  I had a chance to re-watched the videos of basecamp2013 as I try to think about "What's Next" and reflect on what have been achieved a year after basecamp2013.

From a larger picture, it is indeed sad that many key people at the OLPC headquarter in Miami have moved on to new jobs. The office has  relocated elsewhere (where ?) .  OLPC website at http://www.laptop.org is not very update. Very little news are coming out from HQ. Expect the XO-4 laptop to be the last iteration of XO being developed. Have not heard also on the OLPC tablet.

In the true spirit of olpc 2.0,  volunteers have started new projects. Today it is about  trying to work with whatever resources or network left over and building new partnerships. New and cheaper devices (herehere and here ) are coming out  into the market. Unfortunately none has achieved the full functionality afforded by the older and current XO laptop.Thus  I remain a XO die-hard evangelist but pragmatic since OLPC sponsorships are  slow  to come by.  Need to seek new ways and directions to support what we do in 2015 and beyond.

This year basecamp2014Trek was a success. The journey took us from Penang, Ipoh, Tras, KL to Malacca. I met up with new people who support the work n Malaysia. Videos recording of the trip can be found here. Memorable digital pictures offer glimpse of what the "treking". Highlights include bringing four Orang Asli children to the Penang International Science Fair (Nov 15-16). That was the bootstart basecamp2014Trek event.  These lucky 4 four kids had a chance to meet the Chief Minister of Penang when he visited our workshop area.


After Penang it was Ipoh and Tras. We celebrated Universal Children Day at the SEMOA farm in Tras with a village like feast. SEMOA farm is where 40 XO laptops are donated for  the digital Learning & Education Asli Project (dLEAP) inititive. The kids had a fun  time using the XO prior to the night feast. Managed to take photos of the children using their XOs in open spaces even at night. 

I used a camera shot as background for this year e-greeting card remix.


So what will 2015 be like? 

For  2015 there is a need to initiate more followups and activities to keep the olpc 2.0 momentum/spirit burning in Malaysia. Hope we can invite people/volunteers in deployments like Haiti,  Nepal to Cambodia and OLPC supporters to come to Malaysia again. 

It is significant that 2015 will be 10 years since the OLPC XO laptop was announced to the world in 2005.  Let's celebrate 10 years anniversary and XO Day with a final bang!

I have a dream for basecamp2015Peak in Nov 2015. Doable if people continue their personal olpc 2.0 journey. 




Merry Christmas & Happy New Year.



by T.K. Kang (noreply@blogger.com) at December 25, 2014 03:22 AM

December 24, 2014

Haiti Dreams!

Lascahobas unleashed

Dec24-2014Nick-Haiti-photo

Nick Doiron’s report is refreshing, nicely honest, beautifully presented work. Helping Haiti unleash kids is important, difficult, rewarding and challenging. Keep up the inspiring effort.

 


by buildingaschool at December 24, 2014 07:12 PM

December 23, 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.


December 23, 2014 03:52 AM

December 21, 2014

Nancie Severs

Finding the Light Within. — Lebanon, NH


Lebanon, NH

Tonight is the winter solstice. Today is the shortest day of the year. Yesterday, the sun appeared for the first time in 10 days. Everyone I meet talks about the darkness this time of year.

We all need coping strategies for difficult times in our lives. Whether our stress derives from our work, our busy schedules, relationship changes, aging, illness or death of a beloved family member, facing a challenging illness as I am now, or simply the effects of seasonal weather &amp; shortened daylight, managing stress large or small is a necessary life skill.

For me, yoga works. Phyllis’s yoga class at Ancient Healing Arts this morning once again reinforced for me the magic of yoga. Her class is the inspiration for this blog entry.

How does yoga work to relieve stress? Well, first you have to show up and be “present” on your mat. This can be in a home practice or in a class. Consistency is key. After today’s class, another yogi mentioned that somehow, the classes seem to be just what she needs each day. I said, "I have often felt the same."

On this winter solstice day once again, our class was just what I needed. The meditation, pranayama (breath work), chakra awareness, and poses may have affected each of us in in class differently. As I embraced the quiet practice recognizing the darkness of the season, I felt a sense of calm. When I opened my eyes at the end of class, a light inside me merged with the light outside. I left with unexpected energy for the days ahead.

I was back in Boston from December 9th through the 13th for Chemo Cycle 5 "mini-vacation." I stayed at the very hip Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel in the Seaport (with a very good rate.) The guest/staff service was extraordinary. Special thanks to Managers, Michelle and Adam and to the "Navigator" Eisha for going the extra mile! The Club Lounge was comfortable and convenient. Think breakfast in the club lounge and anytime Nespresso. The T to South Station is practically across the street. Downtown is very close and it is easy to get almost anywhere with public transportation. The location is not near the Longwood Avenue Medical Complex, and the weather was terrible that week. Uber to the rescue. I saw my oncologist on December 10. Mark joined me on the 11th toward the end of my 12 hour chemo day. We were back at the hospital on the 12th for a Neulasta shot to boost my white counts. We drove home on Saturday morning, as avoiding traffic is key to avoiding a queasy post chemo stomach.

I am feeling the cumulative effects of the chemo and radiation. I have some physical discomfort, I tire easily and I need more rest. I haven't felt like cooking or doing very much and I'm being more careful than ever to avoid crowds as just catching a cold could precipitate a setback. I have only one chemo cycle left and I want to finish it without delays.

That last cycle is scheduled for December 31. If my blood counts are high enough, Mark and I will celebrate our 37th anniversary with the completion of this first treatment protocol. In sickness and in health, my beloved Mark stands by me. We will be in Boston for a few days and I'll be able to start the New Year with a focus on recharging my immune system &amp; rebuilding my physical strength.

I appreciate the light that shines in each of you for helping me through this challenging time. Thank you Phyllis for expertly guiding me to find “a light within” when there is darkness in our lives.

As winter begins,"become the light." May you find light in your holidays, live light, and be a light for those around you.

Love, Nancie


December 21, 2014 09:12 PM

December 18, 2014

Hands of Charity XO Project | Kenya

Kenyas Working to Save Elephants

We know that our Kenyan kids care a lot about the elephants and poaching.  Just to encourage us all, you are not alone.  Join together Kenyans.  Let us know what you are doing also.  Post comments here.

Kenyan Woman Initiative:  Hands off our elephants!   http://whitleyaward.org/winners/hands-off-our-elephants/


by smallsolutionsbigideas at December 18, 2014 07:51 PM

OLE Nepal

A Day at the Open Learning Exchange (OLE)

“ Disparity in the world is growing resulting to lack of opportunity. A single donation of money and food without a targeted solution is not the answer to reducing disparity. Give people a real chance! A basis to climb the ladder!  Basic education is the answer to do well in school and in life. If [...]

by Bibhusha Karki at December 18, 2014 03:14 AM

December 17, 2014

Mapa del Sur

The latest from Lascahobas

Currently at Lascahobas. I spent the first two days in Haiti visiting Silar's orphanage and getting our solar power equipment from different places in Port-au-Prince. I was mostly along for the ride - one of our teachers, Jeanide, led the way. We also visited a tablet manufacturer/assembler and talked to their head engineer, who talked me into buying a solar panel with integrated mobile backup battery. Yesterday Sora came into Port-au-Prince, then we traveled out into the countryside to visit the school in Lascahobas. Sora and the teachers discussed the project in Creole until after dark. I debugged some issues with internet, and went on the roof to check on the solar panels. I was then up past midnight writing some writing helpers into the iLoominate eBook project. Long day! Today is the first actual workshop day - our software is running on the server, teachers are meeting, Sora has ordered lunch for everyone. I'll be taking a look at the solar power system, with George and Tim joining by Skype

by Nick (noreply@blogger.com) at December 17, 2014 02:24 PM

December 15, 2014

Hands of Charity XO Project | Kenya

Making Threads from Plastics

During the last year’s term break students’ studied the impact of plastic trash on their environment, and thought about ways to reuse and repurpose the many bottles, and wrappings thrown into marketplace back alleys.   A US group has developed a mondel and working with Haiti to make cloth from recycled plastics.   Take a look.  Could this happen in Kenya?

As we all may know, but not agree on,  non-profits are not charities, but engines of economic and social change.  Every non-profit needs to spin off for profit products, ideas and entities.  What is the model for Hands of Charity?

Check out this link: http://www.threadinternational.com/impact/#how-it-works


by smallsolutionsbigideas at December 15, 2014 08:23 PM

Sugar Digest / Walter Bender

Sugar Digest 2014-12-15

Sugar Digest

1. Google Code In update: After the first two weeks, we have 33 participants and almost 140 tasks completed. The pace is faster than in years past, perhaps because we have more experienced Sugar users each year. You can follow the action (the contest runs for five more weeks) at [GCI 2014].

At the current pace, almost 500 tasks will have been completed by the end of the contest. If you have project ideas, please let me (or any of the other mentors) know. We can continue to add new tasks throughout the contest. Tasks include coding, but also documentation, quality assurance, outreach, etc.

2. We continue to make progress on Turtle Blocks JS (the Javascript version of Turtle Blocks). There have been many new contributions from participants in Google Code In and in generally, the code is approaching a point of stability. You can try it by visiting [https://turtle.sugarlabs.org] or by downloading the activity locally from [https://github.com/walterbender/turtleblocksjs]. Any and all comments, feedback, bug reports, merge requests, and suggestions welcome.

Tech Talk

3. Martin Abente has been working on new translation platform, including a new Pootle instance. He has been adding repositories there so translators can start working. If you are interested in having your project included in the new platform, please follow these instructions:
# If you still use our old Gitorious repository, please move your projects to Github. Gitorious is considered read-only now. (See [How_to_migrate_from_Gitorious] for details about how to move projects.)
# Update this [http://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/Translation_Team/Pootle_Projects/Repositories] wiki page so we can track your project’s repository.
# Be sure to grant commit access to [sugarlabs-pootle] the Sugar Labs Github Pootle user.
# Create a new user on the new translation platform ([http://translate.sugarlabs.org]).
# Please send an email to Martin (CC’ing sugar-devel) with a list of the repositories for your projects so that he can add them to Pootle. Don’t forget to specify your user name on the translation platform.

4. The final phase of the run up the the Sugar 0.104 release is testing and bug fixing. Martin has released tarballs for our (UNSTABLE) feature-freeze release, which can be downloaded from:
* [sugar]
* [sugar-artwork]
* [sugar-datastore]
* [sugar-runner]
* [sugar-toolkit]

We welcome all the help you can provide testing and fixing bugs!

Sugar Labs

5. Please visit our planet.

by Walter Bender at December 15, 2014 03:57 PM

December 13, 2014

Mapa del Sur

Going to Silar's and Lascahobas

Hey, this is Nick! Haven't been laptop-blogging in a while. I'm going back to Haiti tomorrow (the 14th). It's only for a week, but I get to see two awesome schools: Silar's and Lascahobas!

For the first couple of days I'll be at Silar's, inside Port-au-Prince, and after that I will be helping facilitate a teacher workshop in more rural Lascahobas (the upper right XO on the map). Along the way, I'm planning to meet a company making Android tablet in Haiti, help repair a solar power system, and map a couple of health centers.

by Nick (noreply@blogger.com) at December 13, 2014 02:16 PM

Ghana Together

Project Summary for Axim All-Girls High School (AAGHS)

We’ve done quite a few projects with our associates of Western Heritage Home and local school leaders to help AAGHS thrive. Thanks, "investors"!<o:p></o:p>

What would be nice...

...a cleared, safe trail through the jungle between the Heritage Hostel (dormitory) and the school so the girls can walk the half mile 

 ...a couple of tables and benches in the Heritage dormitory where girls board

...and especially a toilet---a really nice toilet, for these lovely young women...like the kind the Engineers Without Borders built at the Axim junior high earlier this year.<o:p></o:p>

Another "urine diversification/dry toilet" in Axim would serve two causes: <o:p></o:p>

1)  the 100 or so high school young women will have a toilet that works! The little two-seater flush type they have doesn't really work. It's often clogged up... and always needs a bucket of water on hand since the flush mechanism...(you get the picture)<o:p></o:p>
 
2)  and, the girls will spread the knowledgeof this toilet design---so much improved over other low-impact toilets, thanks to wizardry of Colleen Mitchell and the others at PNW EWB team! <o:p></o:p>
 
These AAGHS girls come from various parts of Ghana. When they graduate they will be high-school graduates, with a certain status and respect. Their school is putting much emphasis on science. They can put their improved "toilet knowledge" to work in other communities. They aren't going to want to go back to what they came from!


We've done some great projects at AAGHS!

Thanks to Jerome Chandler, our Science Project Manager, we created an entire science resource center, with tables, benches, posters, storage shelves, lot of materials... And Jerome wrote 60 science experiments that fit the Ghana Education Science curriculum "practicums."<o:p></o:p>


Jerome Chandler Science Resource Center at Axim All-Girls High School
<o:p> 
Secure Science Materials Storage Area
 
AAGHS Students doing Science Practicum
</o:p>

Maryanne Ward and Colleen Mitchell with Eric (Jimpetey Djan) Jim, Science Instructor and students taking science materials inventory, Feb 2014
 
Teacher Eric(blue shirt) showing a teacher how the stethoscope works---thanks to the Skagit County, WA docs...

For math, we provided about 60 non-graphing, scientific, solar-powered calculators (not available at any reasonable cost in Ghana).

<o:p></o:p>
Teachers and students opening a shipment of calculators

We sent along an overhead projector for the science transparencies Jerome created, as well as a laptop and computer projector

<o:p> 
Opening the overhead projector transported by Jennifer Mueller, EWB, along with school officials
</o:p>

<o:p> We helped them take this old building on the campus....</o:p>



<o:p>And with a lot of help from the girls themselves and the teachers...and local workers...</o:p>
<o:p></o:p>
Cleaning up the site
 
Workers Preparing Floor
<o:p></o:p>
<o:p> ...</o:p><o:p>Renovated it into a Dining/Study/Assembly Hall</o:p>
AAGHS Students outside newly renovated Dining/Assembly/Study Building. Tables and Benches are on the way

<o:p>We put a new roof on the Heritage Building (formerly the Children's Home) and ...</o:p>
<o:p></o:p> 
Roofers at work. Roofs take a beating in this tropical climate with torrential seasonal rains

...created a high school women's dormitory for those from more than walking distance or other parts of the country!

AAGHS Students who Board at the Heritage, thereby enabling them to attend high school

We have been working with Unleash Kids to equip this AAGHS Information/Computing Center (provided by Ghana Education Service) with Internet-In-A-Box, a learning resource with internet-based resources connecting wireless from the "box" to laptops, much like actual internet service.

IIAB includes Wikipedia, Khan Academy videos, reference e-books, global maps, etc. for environments with little to no internet access. It will be installed at AAGHS in Jan 2015.
.
AAGHS Computing Lab---what's missing is Internet Access. Service is sporadic, or non-existent and very expensive

<o:p> 
Maryanne Ward and Adam Holt (Unleash Kids) setting up Internet-in-a-Box in Maryanne and Rich Ward's home
</o:p>

<o:p>What is missing? We think a toilet like this one EWB built in Axim in 2014...and by all accounts, working beautifully at a Junior High School...would fit in just perfectly!</o:p>

<o:p> 
a
Urine Diversification/Dry Toilet Building by Bellingham, WA Engineers Without Borders
</o:p>

<o:p>We thank so many who have invested in one way or another in this effort, on both sides of the Atlantic. It is amazing to us what has been accomplished!!</o:p>
<o:p></o:p> 
<o:p>Contact us at: info@ghantogether.org</o:p>

by Ghana Together (noreply@blogger.com) at December 13, 2014 06:41 AM

Project Rive: Reaching Students in Haiti

Bois D’Avril: Classroom Observations

Back in Haiti, everyone. Arrived in Bois D’Avril last night and spent the morning observing classes at the local school. If I’m going to be working in education here, I need to get a better understanding of what’s going on … Continue reading

by Sora at December 13, 2014 03:14 AM

December 12, 2014

Sean Collins' Haitian Voyage

Bois D'Avril

Following my time in Port-au-Prince, Jeanide and I traveled up to the tiny Village of Bois D’Avril.  We met John and Deb in Petionville and took a quick detour to the grocery store.  There I was able to pick up a phone charger for myself, and a piece of cheesecake to split with Jeanide.  It was her first time encourntering the rich creamy delicacy, but she enjoyed every bite.  6,000 feet above sea level is where Deb and John call home.  They are a lovely Baha’i couple who are originally from Canada.  They moved to Haiti 33 years ago and moved up into the mountains just before the earthquake.  Their house sits just above the village and offers a brilliant look out into the mountains southward.  This is what the sunrise looks like just outside the bedroom door where I slept. <o:p></o:p>

Upon waking up I got right to teaching. Friday, the first day, I let the kids explore on the laptops to see what they knew.  It was evident they had used the laptops before, but I knew there was plenty of potential for progress.  The kids messed around on the piano activity, took pictures, and played games.  After finishing class we pulled out the soccer ball and played a game in the open field.  I held my own but was struggling to catch my breath by the end.  I called it quits and got to experience a warm shower thanks to the home’s solar heated shower.  <o:p></o:p>

The weekend came and I spent majority of my time working on papers for my Independent Studies at Oakland.  I have successfully wrote my 20 page paper on the effectiveness of earthquake relief in Haiti, and have begun writing the three others. Two papers are for Global Political Philosophy, in which I will explore the reliance on aid, and the idea of Cosmopolitanism. The last is for Modern Language, and it will be a reflection on my trip, with a focus on my exposure to a new culture and language.  I will post them here when the editing phase is complete. 

In between my periods of creative brilliance, I took a few breaks to go on some adventures.  Saturday Jeanide and I headed to a place called Mon Sel, or Salt Mountain.  There is a reservation there called L’Haiti de Demain, or the Haiti of tomorrow.  The reservation was a 3 or 4 mile walk through some winding paths, and sat just off a dirt road.  The park consists of 2 tennis courts, a playground, a soccer field, a restaurant, and countless gardens.  It seemed oddly placed and no one seemed to be home when we arrived. We walked around to the side entrance and the gate was open.  Jeanide and I walked quietly, hesitant to draw attention, but eventually we were met by staff.  The explained they were not open, but Jeanide convinced them to let us at least look around for 10 minutes.  We walked around the premise and saw as much as we could.  Things moved a little slower than I had hoped with Jeanide stopping to have me take pictures for her Facebook page, but it was a lovely slice of Haiti. We stopped and had the groundskeeper take a photo. He had never used a camera before, but was able to capture my radiant good looks quite well. We took a motorcycle back, and arrived just in time for dinner. 
<o:p></o:p>

Sunday I wrote some more, but took a break to go to a picnic with Jeanide and John.  There I met a bunch of people working with their own governmental and non-governmental organizations.  A lot of them had been in Haiti for a long time and had some cool stories to tell.  I enjoyed some carrot cake, chased some kids through a field, and socialized with the adults.  The walks back and forth were absolutely breathtaking.  You start off in a forest of pine trees that opens up to an open field of farms and cliff faces.  You trek along the narrow goat path up and down left and right before arriving to the property that sits on the edge of a drop off.  I plan to take Paul to Bois D’Avril next week Wednesday.  <o:p></o:p>

Throughout the week I taught, on average, 3 classes a week.  The ages ranged from kindergarten to 5th grade.  With the Kindergarteners it was hard to be productive. It is nice to get the kids excited about technology, and it is good for them to get an understanding of how to use it, but there isn’t room for much else.  The 5th graders is a different story.  The have access to the Internet-in-a-box (iiab) hardware, so they have the ability to read Wikipedia, access khan academy, and download other education software.  I spent the week getting them equated with its ins and outs.  <o:p></o:p>

We finished off the week with a class for the teachers on how to use iiab.  The information on there is mostly in French or English, so having the teachers well versed is essential.  They are the ones who benefit the most.  They can walk the kids through the articles translating what it says, or they can learn something new for themselves and teach a lesson on it later.  The teachers took well to it and made some great progress. They are now in Sora’s capable hands, and I’m sure she can help them progress further.  <o:p></o:p>

I am now back in Port-au-Prince at Haiti Communitere. Paul comes tomorrow and we will spend my last week in Haiti together.  I’ll take him around to a few of my favorite places.  We will start in PAP and visit 3 or 4 of the schools here, then we will spend 2 days in Grand Goave at Mission of Hope.  From there we will head into the mountains to Bois D’Avril for 2 days, and then it’s back to PAP so that we can catch out flights out on the 20th.  I really should be working on editing and citations so I’m going to cut this blog post short.  I should have plenty more to say, and I will be sure to post my papers on here when I am finished.  <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 December 12, 2014 06:44 PM

December 10, 2014

Fargo to Sudan XO

The Troubling Optics Behind the President Learning to Code : Stager-to-Go

The Troubling Optics Behind the President Learning to Code : Stager-to-Go.

I was just telling a friend that I hate getting sucked in by Code.org and Code Hour and all the program or be programmed rhetoric.  Yet I keep getting sucked in.

After reading this, I will be stronger.


by kab13 at December 10, 2014 10:00 PM

December 03, 2014

Sean Collins' Haitian Voyage

Port-au-Prince: Round 3

I’ve spent my time since the last post back in Port-au-Prince.  Once again I’m staying with the fine people here at Haiti Communitere.  I spent the first week working at Cazeau with Dyna and Johnny Laine.  Dyna is a teacher at the school who runs an after school XO program on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  In our 2 lessons together, Dyna and I taught typing, and showed the kids how to do research using Internet-in-a-box (iiab). iiab is a terabyte hard drive containing all of Wikipedia in multiple languages, and other educational software.  We explained to the kids how to use the search feature and asked a few basic questions for them to look up.  The young group quickly grasped the concept so we let them explore for the rest of class.  One little girl stumbled upon the page for feminism. I thought it a great photo op, but she had more important matters to attend to. It’s amazing to see what sparks the kids’ curiosity.  Giving them the ability to explore and learn is a wonderful feeling.<o:p></o:p>


Between my two days with Dyna, I helped Johnny Laine teach an English class to the kids in the orphanage.  Johnny is a Haitian who works for Ken Bever at Hope for Haiti’s Children. He teaches English to the kids twice a week.  We started off the class by walking through and learning words and their pronunciation. Next I read the class a story, and sentence by sentence they repeated after me. Although this was cute, I wasn’t really impressed until the next step. I read the story in English again, but this time Johnny had the kids translate it into Creole.  The class translated in unison and did so perfectly.  We read another story and then I asked each of them individual questions.  The English class was especially easy to teach and was a nice break from my regular lesson plans.  Below are a few students from the class.  <o:p></o:p>


That Thursday was also Thanksgiving.  The holiday is not celebrated in Haiti for obvious reasons, but I was staying with a bunch of Americans, so we had our own party.  The day before, people went out and bought some live turkeys and let them roam the compound.  Then Thursday people were here all day cooking.  There was turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, cranberry sauce, and sweet potatoes pie for dessert.  We all pitched in $10 and that paid for some live entertainment too.  A talented musician from the city brought his guitar and played a few songs for us while we ate. It wasn’t the same, but it was a nice taste of home. <o:p></o:p>

That weekend I helped out around Communitere doing chores.  Michael is a middle aged volunteer from the UK. He had been cleaning the storage closet out all week, and recruited me to help him sort through some old electronics.  We went through 3 or 4 boxes of gadgets left behind, and found some really cool stuff.  The first thing that caught my eye was a Nintendo Entertainment System (NES).  We kept digging and found 3 laptops, dozens of walkie talkies, and more than enough wires.  I hooked up the NES as soon as I had time and tried to get it working. The conventional techniques weren’t working (blowing the dust out of the cartridge), so I ended up disassembling it to better diagnose the issue.  The 72 bit connector that the game plugs into was bent out of shape. I bended it back into place, and after a few tries we got it working.  The next day I checked through the computers and was able to salvage a laptop.  I offered to pay the people at Communitere for it, but they were just happy to clear up some space.  I dropped the laptop off at Cazeau, and it will be sent to one of our teachers at a later date.<o:p></o:p>


I’ve spent this week bouncing around between Cazeau, Croix-des-bouquets, and Silar’s orphanage.  At Silar’s I had to document all the information of the electrical appliances he uses.  The plan is to later convert his electricity from 110 volts to 24 volts.  At Cazeau I did some more work on the internet, including installing a new Ethernet cable. The idea is to permanently install an access point in the principal’s office so that the kids can connect whenever.  I spent my time in Croix-des-bouquets with Jeanide and Junior.  They are two Haitians who I have worked with in the past.  They have recently started their own English school and are teaching once a week.  I went around with them and talked to some potential students about joining.  We went and visited one school down the road from where they hold class, and we talked to a few classes before and after recess.  During recess the older kids played soccer in the yard.  I joined in and showcased by very limited skill.  The Haitian sun is unforgiving and after 20 minutes I tapped out with my team up 1-0.  By the end of the recess we lost 6-2. My team needed me but I was spent.  <o:p></o:p>

We taught a class on Saturday and had a pretty good turnout.  We went through some basics, “What is your name?” “What do you like to do?” “How old are you?”.  One girl told me she liked to sing.  Junior asked her if she would sing for us.  She seemed very shy so I tried to make her a deal.  I told her I would sing if she would.  I held up my end of the bargain, she did not.  Nevertheless the kids enjoyed my performance.  We talked for a little longer and the kids told me about their families and what else they liked to do.  It was a great group of kids and their English will only continue to get better with the help of Jeanide and Junior.  Depending on when my brother Paul lands, I may take him to visit the English class with me when he arrives on December 13th.  <o:p></o:p>

The final place I’ll be working at is Bois d’avril up in the mountains.  I’ll be heading there tomorrow and returning the 12th.  After that I will show Paul around Haiti. I definitely plan to pay a visit to Mission of Hope in Grand Goave. I spent 3 weeks there and want to say hello to some of my favorite students.  We will go all around Port-au-Prince, and maybe back up into the mountains. It seems surreal that my work in Haiti is coming to an end.  I know I’ve accomplished a lot, and I have enjoyed every second, but the work is far from done.  It’s hard to be informed and optimistic for the future of Haiti.  There are wonderful people here, Haitians and foreigners alike.  I just hope that their good intentions produce good results.  <o:p></o:p>

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

Sean                <o:p></o:p>

by Sean Collins (noreply@blogger.com) at December 03, 2014 06:48 PM

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! 
<o:p></o:p>

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.

Here are some tips to help you navigate my blogs.


1. Click on a photo anywhere in the entry and you will get a larger
photo with arrows to click and scroll through all photos. In that
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2. If you scroll down to the bottom of the page, below the photos on
any entry, the Table of Entries (Contents) appears below each
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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

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