Monday, March 31, 2008

Computer Workshop

For two days, I hosted a computer workshop for the educators of the two primary schools where I work. For now, these are two pictures of the workshops (another volunteer's parents came and helped out- Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Clapp!) . We did cover quite a bit of ground and I think they are gaining enough confidence to try things on their own now.

It may seem odd that I'm teaching educators how to use the computer when there is no paved road within 23 kilometers of any of my schools, one lacks flush toilets and all are overcrowded. Nevertheless we have one at each school and I am determined to make sure that they are used to help the schools run better. The computer was provided to the school for administrative purposes, and for now, is under-used. I know there are schools where computers sit, locked up, because they are too valuable to be used. One of my schools has two computers, (one purchased last year at my urging, I'll explain later) and the other has one. For the school with two computers, the principal has taken to the computer and is beginning to improvise and learn on on his own, which is what needs to happen. At the other school, I still have teachers who don't know how to turn a computer on and do not think that it will add anything to their teaching.

This round of computer training included turning on/off a computer, the concept of windows and resizing, creating a folder, moving things to the folder, basic word processing, and certificate designs. I'm also restarting a typing tutorial program that I began last year and hope that it catches on the second time around. The first time around, there was a lot of initial interest, which then fizzled.

I've been doing reading on how to educate adults, so much of that was applied to this workshop... and I think it paid off. I have yet to design a follow-up workshop/activity, but I'm thinking of how best to do that now.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Kids and No more Chia pet

One of our goats gave birth to twin kids two days ago. It was quite interesting to see the little wet lumps sit for awhile and then struggle to their unsteady little feet. The timing seemed odd, as it is Fall and the day the mother goat gave birth was one of the coldest days here in months. This meant that we took the kids into the garage at night (me in the top photo). But then the weather turned again and it was time to take them back to the kraal (Afrikaans for corral) and so that is the third photo. I'm told carrying them like this doesn't hurt them and they seemed not to mind, even though I prefer actually supporting them as I did in the first photo.

As you can see the weather is having trouble deciding what it wants to do. The only thing that is certain, is that whenever I want to go running, it starts raining. I suppose its because I don't have a car that I can wash.

I've also cut my hair about a month ago, which was a fun (tedious) three hour experience. At the end, it really looked like a medium-sized furry animal was in the bucket I but my hair into. My host family was shocked, as were all my co-workers.

Now I can avoid comparisons to Chia-Pets.

The kids (goats) are a lot cuter than the photos seem to make them and their hair is ridiculously soft, unlike that of their parents.I'd also like to mention now that I'm participating in a half-marathon (the Long Tom) in a week and a half. The purpose is to raise money for scholarships for economically disadvantaged but otherwise brilliant students. If you do so feel inclined to donate, the website is:

If you donate, please include my name in the white box as Long Tom participant and yes, it is tax-deductible and you can give any amount, any little bit will help $10, $20 go a long way here in South Africa (after all, I spend less than $4 a day on food):

The marathon itself is described here:

As far as asking for money goes. Yes, my schools are poor and could definitely use more resources; however I'm working on making sure they use the few resources they have effectively before I would think of requesting more funds. Unless you want to build a classroom, we're short on those.

This cause is one I support because it is well managed and is doing something that I feel is very necessary: expanding opportunities for those that ordinarily would not have the chance. It is not nurturing a dependency, but empowering a future, which is what I'm here in South Africa to do. That's all for now.