Everything started with an e-mail I sent to the Kids on Computers mailing list in January, this year. I have to say that I never imagined the consequences and impact this first contact was about to bring to my life.
I remember I was surfing the web, looking for educational content when I found a link to the KOC official web site. I was impressed the moment I saw the photo of a Mexican kid on the main page. And not only that, it was actually a photo of a Mexican kid from the state of Oaxaca, a Oaxacan kid.
OK, now you might be wondering, what is it about this kid? Well, it turns out that I am a “Oaxaqueño”, a man from Oaxaca, Mexico. Oaxaca is a beautiful touristic state with one of the best gastronomic cultures of Mexico. Oaxaca is where KOC has setup the vast majority of its open source computer laboratories.
After I read the story of the kid on the main page of the KOC web site, I took a look at the “about us” and “volunteer” links. I sent an e-mail to email@example.com asking for info about the ways someone could help as a volunteer. I also contacted them on twitter @kidsoncomputers.
I received a very quick, nice, friendly reply to my e-mail, and also via twitter:
After that first contact, I attended their monthly meeting via Skype. At that time I talked a little bit about myself and my ideas. Since my first introduction to the KOC web site I had in mind a potential elementary school in Oaxaca city, where KOC could set up a new lab. They were very nice and invited me to join them at their first KOC Summit, that was going to take place in LA at SCALE 13x, in February.
I was very interested and decided to join them. I booked my tickets, said good bye to my cats (the tough part) and took a plane to LA with a short stop in Houston.
I have no regrets about it. This was the beggining of a great relationship with the board members and the other volunteers. KOC had a booth at SCALE, we recruited new volunteers. We all had fun with a trivia game about KOC, where anyone could win a laptop case and we also sold some KOC baseball hats. We took turns taking care of the booth, so that members of the team could have a chance to attend a conference or even give a talk. Our neighbour was HP, so we had a lot of traffic in front of us. This was just great as we could spread the word with a lot of people. Some of them became volunteers.
KOC gave a talk at the event. Each volunteer talked about their experiences and activities. I was the newer volunteer at the table so I could only talk about a few things. We were well received by the public.
Javier, Caleb, Stormy, Avni, Phillip, Gustavo(me) and Thomas.
We also visited the Griffith observatory, and had some beers and wine!
It was just a terrific experience for me to attend the first Kids on Computers Summit. I got to know the amazing people behind this great mission of bringing free and open source technology to kids around the world. Thank you, Stormy, Avni, Caleb, Javier, Phillip and Thomas. You made me feel as if I had been among you for a long time before.
In future posts I will talk about how I became a board member and my experience in setting up a new KOC lab in Oaxaca city. Do you remember I told you I had something in mind? Well, now this idea is up and running in the real world thanks to the marvelous and devoted work of KOC volunteers!
I am counting the days until I attend the second edition of the KOC Summit, next year. This time the event will take place in Pasadena at SCALE 14x, in January.
If you are near that area, stop by and say hi, we (yeah, I’ll be there ) will have a booth where you can get to know more about the different activities you can participate in as a volunteer.
Remember: We’re always looking for volunteers! 😉