Arrived in St. John late last night due to a few flight delays. Bill picked me up at the ferry. “Man, Bill,” I said to him. “It’s like I just saw you two weeks ago!”

“Funny,” he responds. “You did!”

St. John is a little bit different from Haiti, but certainly an interesting comparison. They’re both in the Caribbean and there are cultural things that seem to spill over between the two- Tap Taps (or Safari Wagons, as they call them here), the intense humidity, the mosquitoes. Headed out to Beach Bar with Bill where we filled what was my extremely empty stomach after not having eaten in 14 hours. We also indulged in a risky game of Scrabble, and then, by complete surprise, found an old friend of mine who I used to work with in D.C. and now lives in St. John and was hanging at the bar as well.

As it turns out, my friend Joel also works at the Maho Bay Camps- exactly where we’re staying for the next ten days!

After some jumping up and down and a tearful reunion, it became clear to me: this is going to be an awesome pilot.

Day one begins at the main dining pavilion at the Maho Bay Camps in St. John.

We’re equipped with: 12 high school women from the Columbus School for Girls in Columbus, OH and their advisors, a handful of dedicated volunteers, Christoph Derndorf of OLPC News and the lovely Waveplace staff.

And we’re ready for action.

We meet with the students first to talk logistics: this is how we’re going to take on each day. We talk about the founding of Waveplace and our mission as an organization. Then we break into three groups for the three different schools we’ll be working at (Gifft Hill, Guy Benjamin and Julius E. Sprauve) and plan out how each group is going to start not only an introduction to the XO laptop, but Basic Etoys Lesson 1. The Columbus girls are amazingly organized- all year long they’ve been studying methods of teaching Etoys to kids in a fun way. They come with lesson plans, big laminated visuals and lots of fabulous ideas.

In the early afternoon, Bill and I hit up each school to talk to the principals. We were really impressed with how much the principals wanted to help. We even asked the principal at Guy Benjamin if any of her students from our previous pilots wanted to be “junior mentors” and help out in class…and she sent three over!

Christine (of the Columbus school), Bill and I are designated “floaters” during our time here. Each day is spent at a different school, checking in on the students and mentors, helping with details, photographing, blogging, etc. Today I’m at the Gifft Hill School. When we arrive, there are a few minor issues. For one, I’m dumb and even though I walked deliberately to my tent to get the power strips that I wanted to bring to the schools, I still forgot them. So we had to run around getting everyone hooked up with power strips.

Secondly, some of the computers weren’t working. But again- tomorrow, we’ll either fix them or give the kids other ones.

Yet class went great. The students love their computers and were listening very intently to their mentors. And- I said this one and I’ll say it again- our mentors are AMAZING! They’re alert, they’re alive, they love the kids, they connect with them, and they keep wanting to do more for them. We couldn’t be luckier to have them with us.

Jan was with me at Gifft Hill. We created a contract for students to sign with their parents promising that they will take care of their computers. We put it on Waveplace letterhead and handed it out among Gifft Hill students (and, later, the other school students).

Driving back on the bus, the girls were talking heavily among one another. They couldn’t stop chatting and laughing about how the day went. I know they had a good time.

After dinner, we talked a lot with our “core group” (me, Bill, Tim, Paula, their friends, Larry and Robin, Dana and Christine, and Christoph) about where this program is going in the long-term. After much debate, we outlined a solid guide for how we might conduct Waveplace’s future in St. John. Right now, all of our mentors are based on the mainland, and they are all leaving on June 2nd. But if we can train local teachers here (teachers affiliated with each school) over the summer, we can effectively start a “real” school program in the fall, either during or after the school day.

This is the exciting dream that we’re going to sleep with tonight. More to come in Day Two of the Waveplace Adventures in St. John!

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