(from Thursday)

We call ourselves the Green and White Berets: Bill, Beth and Benaja. Bill calls us the “B Team”– a compilation of our three B names and also what you get when you can’t afford the A team. Together, we make things work. We are the OLPC/Haiti special forces. And we’re here to get the job done.

Our mentors in Petite Riviere des Nippes feel the same way. Our last day here went very similarly to the way our last day in Darbonne went. We did little to disrupt class and let the mentors hold their before and after meetings on their own. It was so cute- during one particular moment, one of the students got up and started to help the other students who didn’t understand a particular part of the lesson. I turned to Bill. “Looks like we have another mentor!” I said to him. He smiled.

When class was over, we thanked the mentors for an incredible experience, both in and outside of the classroom. They’ve been working hard to keep us busy doing lots of “touristy” things around Petite Riviere- eating sugar cane and coconuts, visiting beaches, going for boat rides. After we spoke, the mentors had a few words. Just like the Darbonne mentors, they promised us that they were going to make sure this pilot succeeds. They would use every inch of their power to make sure that they hold true to that promise.

And so, the Green and White Berets continue on into the sunset- towards a new adventure, a new challenge. And no one can deny that this hasn’t also been both adventurous and challenging!

Some details:

Since we worry about the principal trying to micromanage (though he hasn’t been doing it too much lately), we asked Tim about an official policy on who the computers belong to. He decided that the computers officially belong to Waveplace and are on loan to the students and mentors of the program, indefinitely. This will allow us to take the computers out of the school if they are not used or if something goes drastically wrong. However, we certainly hope that nothing happens that makes us have to pull them out! Apparently the principal yelled at one of the students in class yesterday who came wearing regular clothes. He told the student that if he didn’t come to class today in his uniform, he would be thrown out. We are trying to pick our battles here, so we haven’t said anything. It might be something to take up with Tim/Jack later, because our computer classes are not during school time and therefore there is no reason why a student can’t wear regular clothes (just like we asked them to do on Saturday when we had class).

On a brighter note, Evens and Emmanuel volunteered to be the people that would work with the principal to develop our lending library that we’re going to have at the school with the leftover laptops. They’ll start talking with him tomorrow about how they can do it. It should be a simple process so they hope to have the library going by the end of the week. I warned them that the principal likes to complicate things and not to be set back by his attempts. They smiled. I think they know who they’re dealing with and I have faith in them. Walking out of the school building, some students from last year saw Bill and started asking him why they weren’t in the program and if they could be a part of it again. He told them about the lending library and it looked like that was able to relax them a bit, knowing they’d still be able to use these computers.

I worry about not having funding to continue this program after six weeks. Two pilots down and two to go, the mentors are doing everything in their power to keep the program moving. And I just want, more than anything, to be able to tell them and the students that it will go on forever.

After class, the mentors took us for another boat ride to a different beach. Back home I’m a crew coach, so I’m pretty familiar with driving a motor boat, so Emmanuel let me drive. I’d never driven a small motorboat with ten people in it before so it was pretty unique. But fun, definitely fun.

Unlike the last beach we went to, which had rough sand and a little picnic area, this beach had very smooth, black sand and a little house that looked like Swiss architecture. We walked inside the little house then went swimming in the water, splashing around, racing each other from one point to another, seeing who could hold their breath underwater the longest. As the sun began to set, we headed back to the hotel. I looked at my friends around me and suddenly felt a little bit sad to leave them. Just another reason to come back.

It’s about 8pm right now and the mentors still have another boat ride in the works. I asked them if it was dangerous to be driving a boat in the pitch black night with no light. “Oh no,” they said. “It’s not dangerous at all.”

Another adventure, another challenge.

See you tomorrow in Port-au-Prince, where Bill and I get to face the ultimate challenge: 100 broken laptops about 24 hours. Bring on the beer.

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