(from last Friday)

Up early for more screencasts with Benaja, we couldn’t get past the Final Cut editing problems. Bill spent some time on it and got things moving quickly again, but now their wasn’t enough time to render the screencasts for the mentors, which was our overall goal. Michena was to teach one lesson, Lionel another.

Roll with it . . . Michena could watch the screencasts on my computer in Final Cut, which meant that Benaja and I couldn’t continue our morning screencast work. Lionel confided in Bill that he felt uncomfortable teaching Lesson 8 (tests). After watching the Lesson 8 screencast, Michena also felt uncomfortable, so it was decided that I would teach Lesson 8 and Michena and Lionel would teach Lesson 9 (animations), so Michena watched that screencast as well.

Thursday was our last teaching day, another marathon. First the mentors learned Lesson 9, then the children learned Lessons 8 and 9, then the mentors learned Lesson 10. Since I was now teaching one of the children’s classes, I had a six hours of talk time, which make me tired even now to think of it.

The mentor lesson started with an April Fool’s joke on me. Beth set all the laptops to display a Windows like desktop picture and then said, “I don’t what’s happening, all of the XOs are running Windows!” I didn’t quite get that it was a joke, having forgotten April Fool’s. Everyone else had a good hearty laugh.

Lesson 9 went very well with the mentors. I used a stick figure, which I called “Benaja” and had fun asking the real Benaja to move around like the animated Benaja. Throughout the workshop, I enjoyed doing goofy things, then watching Benaja translate my goofiness to the group, often with hand and body motions that he exaggerated even more. Levity is so important in our pilots. If the adults aren’t having fun, then the children aren’t having fun, which means the children aren’t really learning.

At the beginning of Lesson 8 with the kids, I marched everyone out to the playground and had the girls walk in circles and the boys walk in squares. I then had them pick sounds to make, then told them to make a cat sound when their feet touched a stick, a donkey sound when their feet touched a rock, and a boom sound when they bumped in to someone. The whole group started making their shapes and sounds, which was great fun. You’d be amazed at the many ways you can make cat, donkey, and boom sounds!

Inside, I had them do the same thing with Etoys, using tests to ask the question, “Am I over a circle?” If yes, make a cat sound, etc. As with the mentors, we didn’t quite cover all the tests in the lesson, which was fine. Instead, I used the final minutes to talk to them about the storybooks they’ll make and the people and places in the world that will see them.

“Can anyone name a place outside of Haiti?” America, Canada, Africa. The kids were slow to answer. “Well there are many, many places in the world, with many people who wish for your success and your happiness.” I then played the “Where the hell is Matt?” video, calling out the country names as they went past … Australia, Iceland, Japan, Madagascar. The whole room was transfixed, watching and laughing at the sheer silliness of it.

At the end, I said something like, “These are only some of the many who are waiting to hear your voice.” There was silence in the room for a time, then we broke for lunch. Magèla walked up to me and nodded her head, smiling. Others were smiling too. A moment of hope.

During the break, Bill and Beth interviewed many of the mentors with Etienne translating, while I worked with Benaja in the treehouse on the screencast for Lesson 10. Walking briefly past, I could hear that the interviews seemed to be going well. Bill and Beth later said they were amazing. Benaja and I finished Lesson 10, but as we saved the screen capture program bombed and we lost all of it. Ee gads! My spirits sunk lower than the mountain, so I went back to my bedroom to curl into a ball and rest.

Coming back to see the end of Michena and Lionel’s lesson, I was impressed how well things were working. Bill later said that lesson proved we had succeeded, since I was gone, Beth was busy, and Bill was filming, the Haitians had become self-sufficient. They finished the lesson and everyone got it.

Teaching Lesson 10 was difficult for me, as I was so tired. We managed to make it through the whole thing, though I took frequent bench breaks while everyone worked on each step. Near the end, having finished my part, I congratulated them all on their hard work and once again expressed hope for the future of Haiti. I then snuck back to my bed for more rest while everyone finished up.

With a short nap, I returned to the round house to see the Darbonne mentors sitting in a circle, speaking their minds to each other and the videotape. I joined them and was amazed at the honesty and hope they showed, speaking of their doubts at the beginning of the pilot and the minor regrets they felt along the way. I told them of my own doubts in starting the project and agreed with Joseph who said that challenging yourself is reward enough, that there is no real success unless there is also difficulty to overcome. At the end, we made many jokes and left the round house enthusiastic. It was the high point of my trip.

Later in the library, Benaja, Beth, Bill, and I talked about whether to let the mainland mentors bring back their laptops back, or whether to leave them here in Matènwa. We agreed there was enough, so the mentors should bring them back. Chris joined us and put her foot down … she wanted the laptops to stay in Matènwa. The debate that followed was unpleasant, ending with a outright argument between me and Chris. More about personalities than actual logistical concerns, I’ll spare you the details. In the end, it was decided that the Petite Riviere mentors would bring their laptops home, but the Darbonne mentors would not. I went back to Robert’s house for more conversation, though my spirits were now completely deflated.

Before bed, I received a most precious gift. Atop the third grade classroom, I was able to get a clear, sustained, cell phone signal and actually had a 45 minute conversation with my wife! Until then I’d only been able to speak a minute or two at a time, often garbled. Atop that rooftoop, looking at the endless stars in the Haitian sky, talking with my true love, I felt right again with the world, and wanted to go home.

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