Monday, December 15, 2008

Bula and Namaste from Paradise!

Welcome to our blog about the arrival of one hundred One Laptop Per Child XO laptops in Fiji!

While most people have to request these laptops well in advance, we were fortunate enough that a generous ex-pat arranged their shipment here a year ago without us even having to ask (this is the power of young Fijian smiles!).

Now that the laptops have made it through customs, we are trying to identify the best way to get them into the hands of students. We are in the midst of the summer school break, so we have some time to plan.

We're going to refer to our tiny town as Paradise for the sake of maintaining some anonymity in the blog, but here are some details other XO followers might want to know about Paradise:
- There are several schools in our town, with approximately 1500 primary-age students.
- Paradise attracts a fair number of tourists and ex-pats, there are several internet cafes in town, and many businesses rely on computers.
- We have a wonderful, albeit small, community library, run by the Ministry of Education. The laptops will make their debut in the library, as we work out all the issues around training teachers and students, uploading the new operating systems, and securing wireless access points for the surrounding schools.
- In Paradise, like in all of Fiji, there is an ancient tradition of being able to "kerekere" or borrow whatever you may need (food, money). This works incredibly well for taking care of everyone in Paradise (no one starves), but it is a challenge when Western wants and desires begin to shape the "needs" of people here. In the case of OLPC, there is a concern that laptops sent home, may not return to school.

So far, the XOs have been enthusiastically received by all. A huge thanks to Murray R. for his generous gift (and for having the patience to get the XOs through the complicated customs procedures), to Greg and Karen for welcoming them to Paradise, to Ryan W. for immersing yourself in learning all about Sugar, and to Miles, Anya, and Steven for your faith that the technology aspects will not overwhelm me! And to our young library patrons who are learning even quicker than we are- thanks for teaching us about your discoveries!

Hopefully, but the end of the week we will have found a way to download the 450MB upgrade (a HUGE file for the slow connections in Paradise) and have the wireless router installed in the library... at which point, we should be updating this blog from an XO!

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