After momentarily considering the bright devices stacked high in the center of the room, a young student stated, “I can tell why they’re green…”

The eleven year old speaker, Alicia, and eight of her classmates at Graham & Park Elementary School in Cambridge, MA had just come back from recess to discover XO laptops in place of their usual afternoon lessons.

“It is green because we are trying to save the world,” Alicia stated plainly. She said this as if she were simply adding a third line to that old phrase about roses and violets. The notion of sustainability has sunk in so deeply with today’s youth that they actually interpret colors through a socially conscious imagination.

Not too long ago, neon green meant little more to kids than Nickelodeon’s Gak – pliable, fun, and just for the young, or at least the young at heart. These are the same concepts associated with the XO today. Combine open-ended play with the open mindedness of kids, and anything is possible.

So can the use of XO laptops help dismantle other preconceived notions about color?

MIT professor Noam Chomsky writes candidly about the overwhelming negative perception of Haiti in the world: “Miserable, horrifying, black, ugly.”

But if the students participating in the pilot at Graham & Park Elementary and the concurrent pilot at Fayerweather Street School in Cambridge have provided any insight already, it’s that elementary school students have not yet necessarily learned to share this view.

Students at both schools are in love with the idea of working on laptops they will soon pass off to counterparts in Haiti. Fayerweather Street School students take their roles as “testers” seriously and hope to debug any problem that may arise in the XO. Likewise, Graham & Park students pledged to keep the laptops safe, with one student eloquently describing the sharing cycle as, “we touch and they touch.”

Surely the XO cannot be panacea to all existing infirmities within Haiti, particularly the devastation caused by the recent earthquakes from January 12 and on. However, these devices, along with skilled Haitian mentors, can introduce creative problem solving in an area that has suffered for too long from discrimination based on color, and the discouragement of imagination.

Here’s hoping the next two weeks allows the building of a strong and inspirational program to bring to Haiti.

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