The first thing you gotta accept when you’re doing something like this: confusion is acceptable. Between the language difficulties, cultural differences, shifting circumstances, and stuff you didn’t think of, it’s mostly mess, but this is fine. High acceptance, low expectation. The only way to fail is to convince yourself you need to teach everything, they need to learn everything, and that things should go according to plan. To me, plans are a kind of shorthand for things you do when you’re not dealing with all the unexpected stuff. Plans are for when you have a moment to think. Plans are not promises.

Yesterday started early for me, around 6am. I got the keys to the round house from Robert and walked up the short rocky dirt road, through the iron gates and playground, and unlocked the door. First order of business: move our luggage from the first floor to the second, since children would be using the first floor in a few hours. I took my two suitcases full of laptops and clothes and moved the laptops & gear to one suitcase, and clothes to another. I then lifted all the luggage up the widely spaced steel stairs into the lower treehouse room. I set up five power strips on a table, then plugged in the nine laptops I had in my luggage.

Did I mention that Haiti is pretty hot and humid? It’s probably just the change, but I got winded and sweaty more easily than I’d like. Just as I was finished Bill walked in . . . just in time 🙂 We got the Matènwa laptops and began the monotonous process of reflashing, updating, numbering, and checking each laptop. Beth joined in a while and we soon determined we had exactly 40 laptops to use. Twenty-six kids and twenty-two adults, means we needed 48, so we were eight short. Luckily Matènwa has about twelve Mac laptops, which we decided to use.

Every pilot is the same. Numbers are picked, then someone adds to them … “only a few more kids.” I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve counted and recounted and re-assigned laptops during a pilot. Perhaps next time I’ll be more draconian up front: this is how many laptops we have, and you cannot have more. No exceptions.

The day started with all the kids assembled in the play yard, lined up by grade level. The Haitian flag was raised and everyone sang the Haitian national anthem. Chris asked all the visitors to stand on the long wall above the playground so we could introduce ourselves to the kids. Felt a bit like being put on a pedestal, but it’s a big deal to everyone, I reminded myself. However much I’d like to say, “Aw shucks, tweren’t nothing”, it’s important to the acknowledge the role we’re in, the history we’re making for someone else. As my oldest brother once said, “it’s our responsibility to make history … if we don’t, who will?”

Chris then led the Waveplace team and mentors on a tour of her school. Starting in 9th grade on down to preschool, we sat in each room, talked with each teacher, and really enjoyed ourselves. As each grade got younger, I enjoyed myself more and more. Unfortunately, recess cut the tour just short of preschool, which is the grade my daughter is in. I’m missing her, and wished for a little 4 year old time.

During recess, we went back to the treehouse to continue prepping laptops and courseware. Later downstairs, we set up the projector with a white sheet over a blackboard to serve as easel. We put twenty-two laptops out for the mentors, finishing just before the scheduled start time at 3:30.

The first hour, I presented the XO laptop, having them switch between the neighborhood, friends, and home screens. They changed their laptop’s name and color, then made friends with others using the neighborhood view. We then tried out Chat as a way to show the collaboration features of the XO. We’ll be relying on them to keep in contact with us once we leave Haiti, so it’s important they’re familiar with Chat, which will be connected to Waveplace’s Jabber server.

During the second hour, we covered Basic Etoys, Lesson 1 (Projects). The wireless wasn’t working, so I couldn’t show them web browsing or the Etoys showcase, but the rest of it went very well. Afterwords, Benaja, Bill, Beth, Chris, and I did our breakdown, talking about what went right and what we could change.

We ended the day with spaghetti and mayonnaise, which was much better than I expected. After an outside shower, I quite completely fell asleep, using the mosquito net above our bed this time.

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