When we first invited the trainers to our Cité Solei laptop handout, they were apprehensive.  Evens had concerns about the “troublemakers” there. Jean-Jean had driving by, but had never gone in.  I assured them that Alex, who was driving us, had been there many times and that we’d only have to travel about five feet from the car to the school’s gate.  They said they’d think about it.

In the morning, we learned they had decided to come, though we then learned that Alex wouldn’t be escorting us, but instead someone we hadn’t met.  I called Alex and let him know that everyone was nervous, what with bringing $6000 worth of computers into what the UN called “the most dangerous place in the Western Hemisphere.”  He arranged for two security guards to escort us.  We’d pick them up just as we went in.

As we drove along Route 1 away from the airport, everyone seemed to be in good spirits.  Beth, Elizabeth, Evens, Jean-Jean, and the driver were all joking together in Creole, which for the most part I couldn’t understand.  As we got closer, there was an ominous black cloud, clearly a large fire.

At the turnoff to Route 9, we parked the car to wait for the security guards.  After a healthy wait, two very serious men got in the car with us.  We drove through a few market streets, past the building that was on fire, and reached Route 9.  Turning left, we saw the rows and rows of tin and tarp huts, though from Route 9 there was only a brief sense of this “poorest place in the world” (Mother Theresa).

We turned off the highway into a very narrow street.  The friendly chatter died down as everyone looked at the windows, lost in our thoughts as we watched a new level of poor in Haiti.

Soon we were at the Cité Soleil Community School.  The security men got out of the car, looked up and down the street, and opened the gate.  We drove in and parked.  With the gate locked behind us, we got to work getting the laptops out of the car to bring into the school.

The school itself was a place of joy.  The children were engaged in their studies.  The teachers waved hello, as most of them had been taking the training with us.  I did my laptop introduction to the 4th grade class, and soon we were handing out laptops.

We all later agreed that there was a world of difference between this handout and the Acacia School handout.  I spent some extra time telling them that the black arrow was like their finger inside the computer and that they moved their real finger on the trackpad to move the black arrow.  When we asked them to explore on their own, most children simply sat, waiting to be told what to do next.  The mentorship approach in such a setting is crucial.  With much one-on-one encouragement, we soon had all the children exploring the laptop on their own.

Back at AMSAI, the children worked on their storybooks while the mentors helped.  We’re all convinced that my initial Etoys/Storybook interleaving plan is the way to go.  It makes things much more engaging for everyone, particularly the children.

We split things up again with a song led by Michel and Jean-Jean, after which I talked about variables, using a soccer game as an example.

For the mentor class, we discussed the videos and the lessons, given that this was our last mentor class.  We showed the Gnome mode so they could watch the videos more easily.  Apparently Sugar won’t launch OGG video files from the journal anyway, something I found out that day.  It was bittersweet ending the class, since it was our last time, though I was happy we would all meet again the next day for the children’s class.

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