Jubilance captures the description of the day.

At one pm we heard the far rumble of a bus making its way toward Campo Alegria. Moments later 19 of our students with siblings, mothers and grandmothers tore off the bus near the main hall where we were waiting to welcome them. We gathered outside and Bill made introductory remarks and introduced Carolyn and myself to the crowd. We then invited them inside where tables were arranged in a u-pattern for the children with chairs situated behind so that family members could look on as their “computer whiz’s” showed off their new abilities.

Realizing that we were behind one lesson we seized the opportunity to catch up and led the children through the class. This provided their families a first hand experience of just what their students have been up to these past two weeks. Following the lesson we encouraged the children to share aspects of their work. A few of the children came forward and presented examples of scripting, story scripts and illustrations to the group. Siblings were especially entranced by the presentations.

Refreshments were offered and everyone loaded their plates with freshly fried plantain chips, fried cheese, melons and cookies. Still the XO’s, or more importantly the work the children had done on them, held center stage. Everywhere in the room small groups were huddled over an XO with one of our students proudly instructing their audience in the nuances of their computer. Excited chatter filled the hall. Soon pictures were being taken with the XO’s camera and an array of sounds echoed from the XO’s speakers. Giggles, laughter and ‘wow’s’ were heard all around as siblings vied for a chance to try things out too.

Still the beach and the lake beckoned. Daniel and Jonathan were on hand to act as human catapults as older children swamped them in the lake, climbing on their backs and shoulders begging to be launched. Younger ones frolicked by the shore and others engaged in a lopsided football game against Geovany blocking his skillful attempts to find a hole in their onslaught defense. Geovany keeps reiterating that he’s not such why but lately he’s feeling “not just good, but great. And happy about it.”

The funny thing is that the lure of demonstrating and using the XO’s continued throughout the afternoon. Small groups were scattered about the lawn, huddled on a wall or bunched together on a porch exploring the possibilities. Parents were duly impressed remarking over and over again how this was a “blessing” for their children.

David, Geovany and Roxanna were all interviewed. Overwhelmingly they spoke of how this was the first time that they had experienced “teaching with love and exploration” as opposed to strictness, by rote and enforced structure. They explained that this has been a joyful and enlightening experience for them and that it has inspired them to learn more, stay involved and spread engaged learning wherever they can. Bill was wondering who scripted their responses. The bottom line is they were speaking from their hearts.

As the children and their families prepared to board the bus for their trip back to town expressions of gratitude abounded along with the question, “when are we coming back?”

The event here at camp was a pleasure for everyone involved. It certainly offered Bill and Carolyn a well-deserved sense of accomplishment to carry home with them.

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