My Experience in Morocco

Guest post, written by Chase Johnson –

This fall, I had the opportunity to go to Morocco with my uncle and help set up two computer labs along with changing the software of one other existing lab. I, being the youngest volunteer in the group at only 15 yrs old, did not get to help quite as much with creating or installing the software but still felt like I was a good factor of the project because I was able to connect with some of the kids closer to my age. We ended up staying nine days in Morocco, we had four days of setting up computer labs, we had three days for tourism, and we had one day of preparation. When we put in the software, some of the kids knew exactly what to do with no questions asked, while others didn’t even know how to use the mouse. Being able to give the kids the extra help that they needed was incredible and life changing for me and for them.

Ouaouizeght, Morocco

The way that we were able to connect to all three of the schools was by Peace Corps volunteers. Without the Peace Corps volunteers we would not have been able to communicate with the students very easily at all. Everybody that we worked with knew both Arabic and English so they translated what we had to teach to all of the students. All of the Peace Corps volunteers were very kind and were huge parts of the “Kids on Computers” project. This whole trip has inspired me to attempting to bond with people of other cultures and hopefully travel the world some day. If I were to pick a favorite part, it would be everything other than touring. Being able to connect to the people, learn the culture, and help the community was amazing beyond belief.

Kids on Computers Lab Set up in Ouled Moussa

This is a guest post from Jake Stern, current Peace Corps volunteer serving in Ouled Moussa, Beni Mellal, Morocco where we set up one lab during our Morocco October 2014 trip. His post describes our time at Ouled Moussa including our final day at the lab where we setup networking and taught a class. His original post is here

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These past couple of days have been the most busy days of my Peace Corps service thus far. Beginning last Sunday, I have consistently gotten up at 8am and been finished with work at 8pm with only a lunch break in between. Now this may sound trivial to the average American schedule but in PCV and Moroccan terms this is intense.

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(Here we are working on the set up of the Lab)

For the past seven months I have been working with an American organization called Kids on Computers. Back in May I submitted a proposal to receive 8-10 computers in order to help jumpstart my Dar Chebab as well as provide tools to underprivileged youth to access information, learn Math Science and English and have a more advanced grasp on technology. Kids on Computers is a completely volunteer based organization in which American software developers, and IT specialists bring donated computers and funds to critical needs areas and help in the assistance and set-up of computer labs. Their members are from across the United States and they take time out of their ordinary schedules to help.

So, last Sunday, I went to the airport in Marrakech with a RPCV named Sasa who had previously served in Ouaouzeight which is a town just over the mountains from me. We were going to meet up with 4 Americans from the organization, Randy, Fareeda, Avni and Chase. After waiting around in the airport a while for everything to get cleared through customs we started on our trip back up to Beni Mellal and my site to purchase the computers for my site.

Driving us were some of the staff from Sasa’s towns’ boarding school. This bus was such a time warp; with huge glass windows all around the vehicle it must have been from the 1970’s at least. None the less, it ran well and we all got up to Beni Mellal just fine.

In Beni Mellal, we ran into our first challenge. The owners of the computer store didn’t have everything arranged so we had to redo the prices on everything being bought and do a new tally. This essentially negated all of the bargaining and haggling I had done for the past six months but at least they had all the equipment. Finally ironing out a price, we headed out and I got dropped off at home while they went up the mountain to town. Despite the fact that it was late at night, this was a great experience to know that after just 9 months in country, I can handle myself in a professional business situation and make sure all parties are satisfied. It was a lot of fun doing this and is something I think I excel in.

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Class!

The next day we set-up the computer lab arranging the tables and chairs, installing the software and wiring the system. In the middle of the day though we went to my host mothers cooperative where we had a HUGE lunch. My favorite lunch here is this chicken they make by first boiling the chicken in the pressure cooker and then somehow, someway browning the thing to perfection. I genuinely think it is sorcery due to the juicy, crispy super-seasoned nature of the chicken. So amongst 5 people we split 3 chickens, french fries, salad and desert. Needless to stay we were stuffed and could barely walk back to the house and then to work. Unfortunately we had to go back into Beni Mellal to exchange some things but my friend Jake was with me and all of the volunteers were super nice so we all had a good time piling into the mudir’s car and running errands in town. The fact that lunch was so good definitely outweighed the tedious nature of Moroccan business dealings.

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Tuesday was the last day for the KoC volunteers in Ouled Moussa. We finished the wiring of the network, installed the new software on a couple more machines and fired the room up. Kids began to trickle in and by evening we had a packed house for me to lead my first class in the new center. It was a bit of chaos but thats Morocco for you. Kids were so excited to checkout all of the new programs on the computers and play the different typing and math games. I left the session feeling exhausted yet really happy because this was the first real class I have held in my site so far!

The KoC folks just left the region today and as I have been able to reflect on the experience I have to say I am really happy with the result. Indeed there were major bureaucratic hurdles in the process of getting these computers to Ouled Moussa and at times I didn’t think it was going to work out. Only now do I realize how much energy, effort and emotion I have put into this project over the past 7 months and how great it feels now. I have never actively worked towards giving something away and to see the reactions of all parties involvedmade it all worth it. This is Peace Corps. Not the bringing of materials to a community, rather, the full investment of emotion into a community you had no previous connection to and working your hardest for them just because.

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Meet Randy Tate

We’re in Morocco! Check out our progress on day 1 and day 2.

In addition to the details of the trip, we’re exited to share our volunteers’s stories. Randy Tate is a long time volunteer, member of the board (stay tuned for an upcoming series that introduces each of our board members), and our current Vice President. We’ve asked him about his favorite trips and why he’s motivated to volunteer with this organization.

Why is it important to bring technology to other regions of the world?
Education is freedom. Knowing how things work, how to build something, or even just basic math or language skills can unlock significant opportunity in almost every city or village throughout the world. Lacking these skills can lead to oppression and limited opportunity. I believe that access to a computer with basic educational applications and content can open the minds of kids and put them on a path of technology-assisted learning and working that is becoming increasingly prevalent in the 21st century. Using Open Source software for KoC labs is also important to me, because of the concepts of freely sharing knowledge, and the chance to build upon the advancements that others have made before us.

Have you visited this region before? Why are you looking forward to this trip?
Yea, two years ago my wife and I went to Morocco, Gibraltar, and Spain for 10 days. We hired a guide for part of our time in Morocco and it was cool to visit different parts of the country, from the urban souks in Marrakech to the Atlas mountains, to the edge of the Sahara desert near the Algerian border, then on to the Mediterranean at Tangier. We met so many nice people and saw firsthand some of the challenges of education for kids in rural areas. One thing I’m looking forward to this time is more delicious Moroccan tagine dishes. I’ve also invited another (younger) nephew to join me on this trip … so that should be exciting. Hopefully he doesn’t get too homesick, and can experience some things about life outside the U.S. that he wouldn’t get back home.

This isn’t your first trip. Please tell us about your favorite trips and your most memorable moment.
I’ve also been to Mexico and Nepal to do KoC lab setup. Both trips were amazing and I had a great time. The first KoC trip I joined was to Mexico a couple of years ago, and I brought a 17-yr-old nephew from Wyoming. He had never been out of the country, so going to Mexico was really exciting for me (and me). He had a great time working in the schools, meeting other volunteers (both from US and Mexico), and eating tacos. Going to Nepal with my wife and another volunteer couple was also a lot of fun. Probably my most memorable moment would be when my nephew and I found a 2nd class bus to get from Mexico City to Huajuapan de Leon. It was a long and interesting trip, including a stop to pick up passengers from another bus that had broken down … standing room only for a couple of hours!

Hope you enjoyed getting to know Randy. Does our mission excite you? Do you want to share your knowledge? Do you want to bridge the digital divide? Join our mailing list to get the latest information about our trips.

Morocco Day 2 – Dar Chabab

Monday morning we started out with Sasa taking us to Mubrak’s (one of the community leaders) house for breakfast at 8am. He and his wife brought out regular bread, cheese, and another bread which reminded me of a bigger version of the Indian paratha. We also had almonds and milk-coffee. Incredibly delicious.

We then when to a stall looking for a 3G USB sticks to connect to the internet. The first stall didn’t have any but had wifi that we could use so of course we stood around the street for 30 minutes checking email on our phones and trying to figure out why Randy’s unlocked phone was not accepting the SIM card he bought yesterday. The second stall had a 3G USB stick for 200 DH (~$25USD) which included a SIM card with unlimited data good for 30 days. We opted to get one and share for use in the hotel at night. Tears of joy. 

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Since we had some extra time before the computers arrived in Ouled Moussa, we stopped by the boarding school in Ouaouizegth to see the computer room and learned that though there was electricity in the designated computer/tutoring room, there was only one outlet by the light switch at the front of the room. This wouldn’t work for the 8 laptops + 1 Mac Mini we had brought for this lab. We decided to speak with the president of the organization that runs the boarding school that night about getting outlets installed by Wednesday. We also wanted to discuss how the laptops would be stationed / housed and where the Mac Mini would be located.

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We then proceeded to the Ouled Moussa Dar Chabab- this is the area where Jake is currently serving in the Peace Corps. We took a 40 minute taxi ride into town and got a good look of the room. Dar Chababs are youth centers sponsored by the Moroccan Education Ministry funded by the government and setup all throughout Morocco as a place kids can come and learn and play in a safe environment outside of school hours. Students are usually at the Dar Chabab between 10am-12pm and 4-8pm.

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The computers hadn’t arrived yet, so we discussed room and table layout. We opted to go with 4 hexagonal tables with 2 computers each for the students and 1 L-shared area for the teach which would house the projector and the Mac Mini. After the desktops arrived, we unboxed, setup, and tested all the computers. We also set up the Mac Mini and an additional laptop for a total of 9 computers in the classroom.

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For lunch, we went to the local women’s cooperative. The goal of the women’s coop is to provide a way for women to learn about business and use their skills to support their families. They package spices, make beautiful crochet pieces, sew cotton bags for people to use instead of plastic, cater food, and embroider. The women are very eager to start a web site to sell their products :-).

For lunch, they roasted us three large chickens with vegetables garnished with olives, spices and lemons and presented on a large round platter. We used bread to pinch and tear the chicken and ate with our hands. We had an assortment of cookies for dessert. One of the women at the coop is Jake’s host mom and was so happy to have us there. They expressed thanks for the computers many times. Another Peace Corps volunteer, who is also named Jake (he goes by Jacques or Jake 2), joined us to help for the next day and a half. He serves near Azilal about 2 hours away from Ouaouizegth.

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After lunch, we installed the custom Ubermix + Educational apps distribution that Randy had prepared on all of the computers. Fareeda placed stickers on the keyboard for the Mac Mini to “convert” it to a French/Arabic keyboard. Everything went amazingly smooth and the installs were completed in less than 2 hours. We tested the OS and Fareeda began installing bookmarks to the Tux Games on the desktops. Randy, Fareeda, and Chase along with Jake then headed to Beni Mellal to get longer ethernet cables and voltage converters. I went to Jake’s apartment to send an update to the KOC team on our arrival and status.

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After they got back, the kids were waiting and eager to try out the computers. Jake taught a 30 minute class with Randy driving the Mac Mini / projector. The kids are like moths to a flame when it comes to the computers. They eagerly click around looking for the cool game or app to try. Seeing their excitement and joy makes the trip and effort involved in doing a trip worth it.

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By this time, it was about 8pm. We took a taxi back to Ouaouizegth and went to the boarding school president’s (Omar’s) house. We discussed installation of the outlets, how the laptops would be secured and our schedule for Wednesday and Thursday. We of course had a a wonderful meal – a big plate of couscous with vegetables and meat. We learned how to make couscous balls and eat with our hands from the center platter. We went back to the hotel afterwards made plans for the next day – networking at Ouled Moussa and teaching the kids some more – and for much needed rest.

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Dispatches From Morocco: Avni Khatri

During the Mexico trip, Corey, (volunteer and VP of Operations) shared her experiences and photos from her experience on the ground.

We want to continue that new tradition and share live-as-possible volunteer stories during our Morocco trip! For the first installment, let’s join Avni, the President of Kids on Computers!


We are in Morocco! Fareeda, Randy, Chase and I arrived safely on Sunday morning/afternoon.

My flight from Madrid to Marrakech was 2 hours before Fareeda’s – when I got to Marrakech, Randy and Chase had already arrived (around 9am). They had spent the morning getting food and a SIM card (priorities!).

Volunteers

Sasa and Jake met us at the airport and arrived about 5 minutes after I got through customs – Jake was wheeling in a new bike he just bought in town. Sophie, a friend of Sasa’s from Massachusetts who is visiting Morocco for a week was with them as well. We then moved to a cafeteria style seating area for food and drinks and to wait for Fareeda.

Sasa then went outside and brought back 4 more people – Fatima, who presides over the girls at the boarding school, Mustafa, who presides over the boys at the boarding school, her Arabic teacher who spoke English very well, and the driver of our fourteen-person van (that the boarding school let us use for the 3 hour ride to Ouaouizegth. She hadn’t seen these folks in six months as that was when her Peace Corps service ended and she moved to Marrakech to take a job at a women’s center.

It was great to have such a warm welcoming crew greeting us at the airport. It made us feel pretty special to have 7 people greeting the 4 of us at the airport.

After Fareeda arrived, we made our way to the van and got ready for the trek up the mountain.

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Fareeda

We first drove 2 hours to Beni Mellal, the town where the equipment store was. Randy and I realized that we needed more peripherals (voltage converters, headphones, and ethernet cables) than we had anticipated, so with Jake’s help, we negotiated with the store on equipment and price. We ended up buying 7 instead of the ordered 8 computer systems along with peripherals. The store agreed to drop all of the equipment off tomorrow morning at 10AM. Jake explained to us later that this was in Moroccan old time (daylight savings time, perhaps?), so they really meant 11AM.

That View!

After the trip to the store, we were feeling pretty exhausted. We drove another 40 minutes to get to Ouaouizegth, where our hotel is. The road to Ouaouizegth is mountainous and windy. Sasa described it as being like Narnia in the day time – driving through the forest and then opening to a beautiful clearing and lake.

After a quick stop at the boarding school, we made our way to the hotel and checked in. Each room has at least 2-3 beds. The hotel owner seemed baffled that we wanted 3 rooms for 4 people and kept asking to confirm the number of total people thinking he had misheard us. (“you have 6 people? 5 people?”). The hotel does not have internet. I almost cried.

After putting our bags away, the owner and chef called us for dinner. They prepared a feast for what felt like 10 people. We had a lentil soup with thick bread, a tajine of vegetables, potatoes, and chicken. The tajine was some of the best food I have had in a long time.

After dinner, we went to the cybercafe so we could check email and let Chase’s parents know that he was safe. We all had some trouble logging into our respective email accounts (partially because of the french keyboard layouts and because most sites were asking for verification since we were international). Randy was only able to log into his twitter account – so he ended up tweeting his wife to let Chase’s parents know that Chase was doing well and requesting a response from her to know that the message was received. Afterwards, we all crashed in our rooms for the night and planned to meet up at 8AM to make our way to breakfast and the Ouled Moussa Dar Chabab (DC).

The culture is very welcoming and eager to show their appreciation. During meals, we are frequently told to eat, eat more. They prefer to wait until we have finished eating before they eat; we have to ask them a few times to join us. I am getting to use quite a bit of my French here. Most people speak some French though they prefer Arabic.

Big thanks to Sasa Tang (former Peace Corps volunteer who served in Ouaouizegth currently residing in Marrakech) and Jake Stern (current Peace Corps volunteer working in Ouled Moussa where the DC is located) for arranging all of the logistics and working with local folks to make things smooth and easy during our stay here.


Hope you enjoyed Avni’s story! Does this sound like fun? Want to join us on the next trip? Join our mailing list to get the latest information about our trips.

Our 2014 Mexico Trip

This is a recap of our June 2014 Kids on Computers Mexico Trip, how awesome it was, what we did, and how it all came together.

We visit our Mexico Labs once a year. Our group trips allow us to perform technical tasks such as:

  • Examining inventory and fixing any equipment that is still usable
  • Replacing old computers with newly donated computers
  • Installing new computers
  • Upgrading OS’s and software
  • Installing new content and applications on the computers

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More importantly though, our  trips allow us to connect with the local community and provide much needed training to teachers and kids. Visiting and conversing (or attempting to converse for some of us) with folks in the communities where we have labs is transformational (mostly for us, I think). Mothers will visit the school while we are working and offer us food and refreshments. Students will ask if they can help or more pressingly, if the computers are ready so they can play games. Teachers will stop by during the day and ask if we can show them educational apps on the computers. Everyone is so thankful and appreciative of our efforts.It is amazing how things we take for granted in the US (computers, tablets, knowing how to use a keyboard and mouse) are life-altering for people in these communities.

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A majority of our volunteers are based in the US so getting to Mexico is relatively easy. In addition, we have strong in-country volunteers in Mexico who are in the same state where we have most of our labs so doing a group trip once a year is feasible.

We begin planning for our trip in January 2014. As an open source volunteer organization, there are no mandates on what needs to get done. We communicate via mailing lists, volunteers grab tasks that interest them as they come up, and we move forward.We set June 2014 as our travel month and begin planning around that. We met approximately every other week to coordinate logistics and plan for the trip. We are a completely distributed group – we have volunteers in California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah,  Mexico, and more! A meeting consists of setting up a conference call via Skype or WebEx. (That’s another reason why trips are so awesome – we get to see each other face to face!)

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Here’s a summary of what we did on this trip:

  • We bought and installed 22 new computers with Lubuntu 14.04, Tux Educational Games, GCompris Suite, Libre Office, KGeography, and many more apps
  • We installed the RACHEL Content server  (Spanish version) on five of the six Mac Minis we took to Mexico and set up local networks in 4 labs so that all computers had access to Khan Academy videos, Wikipedia, MedLine Content, and more.
  • We upgraded 3 labs to have Lubuntu 14.04 on > 90% of the computers (18 de Marzo, Escuela Manuel Gonzalez Gatica (Gittes Family Lab), Escuela Ricardo Flores Magon). We also gave each of these labs 2 HP tablets for the teachers and students to try out.
  • Installed a new lab at Jose Vasconcelos which included 10 computers + 9 tablets + a Mac Mini to serve RACHEL content
  • Visited a lab that none of us had seen after it was set up in Molcaxac in Puebla, Mexico.
  • Found a good recycling place for old equipment at a top technical university in Mexico – UTM Huajuapan.
  • Met with UTM officials (including the founder and Rector of all of the UTM campuses – Dr. Seara) to discuss how we could improve computer usage and education with their help.

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We were able to do so much on this trip because of some awesome people and some amazing donations:

  • LogicalBricks Solutions helped us buy computers and peripherals in country and helped us with many of the travel logistics. (Some of our volunteers are founders of the company).
  • HP’s Open Source Office donated 100 tablets to us back in 2012. We took 15 of them down with us on this trip.
  • We received a Yahoo! Employee Foundation (YEF) Grant which allowed us to establish a Travel Fund to help partially fund volunteers who were interested in joining us on the trip, but needed help financially to do so. We accepted 3 awesome volunteers out of 10 applicants. One of the reasons we selected June for the trip was so university students could apply to travel with us during their summer break.
  • During our 2013 End of Year Campaign, we received a $10,000 donation from Philip Greenspun. This donation allowed us to buy 22 computers which we distributed  throughout four labs, 2 projectors, 2 DVD burners, headphones, and other peripherals. We also have some money from this donation left over to help fund a part time person who can visit the labs throughout the year. In recognition of Philip’s donation, the lab at Escuela Manuel Gonzalez Gatica was named the Gittes Family Lab in honor of Philip’s maternal grandfather.
  • We received routers and cables from Cisco which a volunteer shipped to Oaxaca City and another volunteer sent via van to Huajuapan. 
  • We received a hardware grant from Mozilla of 10 Mac Minis. We received these Mac Minis in time for the trip because a kind Mozilla employee was willing to FedEx them to us so that they arrived the day before we left. We took 6 with us to Mexico.
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KOC can not do any of this work without its volunteers. Countless hours are dedicated to preparing for trips, preparing install media, installing software, debugging hardware, troubleshooting problems, coordinating logistics, and communicating with everyone. Not to mention that most volunteer travel expenses are paid out of pocket. I want to thank the following folks for giving generously of their time and funds to travel on this trip and/or helping from back home:

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  • Hunter Banks
  • Jacquie Bleth
  • Exal Alejandro Gomez Vasquez
  • Gabriel Henderson
  • Javier Henderson
  • Eliud Hr
  • Robin Kimzey
  • Corey Latislaw
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  • Hermes Ojeda Ruiz
  • Stormy Peters
  • Thomas Peters
  • Serena Robb
  • Randy Tate
  • Fernando Villalobos

It feels so good to do good. This was an amazing trip and we got a lot accomplished because of these people. Thank you everyone so much!

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P.S. If you’d like to join us on our next trip (Morocco in September 2014!), email us at volunteer@kidsoncomputers.org. We would love to hear from you.

Applications now being accepted for the Kids on Computers Travel Program: Mexico

Kid’s on Computers is looking for volunteers to donate their time and skills at one of our labs in Mexico.

This unique opportunity is open to individuals with technical skills who are interested in helping disadvantaged children while gaining valuable work and life experience. Each participant will be paired with a KOC leadership mentor. During their stay in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico, participants will work with other KOC travel program participants at the KOC computer lab teaching children and teachers computer skills and assisting with computer troubleshooting and repair. Participants will work at the lab for the month of June, 2014. We are encouraging participation of individuals living in the U.S., in Mexico and any other locations so that we can bring together a group with complimentary technical, language and teaching skills.

Participants need to be able to fund most or all of their expenses, which include airfare and in-country expenses. We estimate that the in-country expenses for housing, food and transportation (not including roundtrip airfare) will range between $500 – 600 a week. Cost will vary depending on the participant’s choices in lodging, food, etc. For those who qualify, travel/participation funding assistance is available through a grant we received in 2013 from the Yahoo Employee Foundation. This stipend, provided in a lump sum, will help with expenses but not cover all costs. Applicants should indicate their need for assistance to request the stipend (which will range from a total of $500 – $750, depending on need). Participants living in Mexico are also eligible for a living expense stipend (ranging from a total of $200 – $300).

Applications will be accepted until March 15th.

Requirements

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be able to travel to and stay in Mexico for at least 3 weeks during the month of June 2014
  • Have an up-to-date passport
  • Have a visa (if required http://mexico.visahq.com)
  • Have the ability to pay for all required expenses

What will be expected of the participants
Participants will work in Mexico with a KOC volunteer team for one month. Participants will be expected to teach computer classes to children, train teachers to use the computers, debug hardware issues, update software and help KOC with their process and strategies to make the organization more effective. Each participant will be working in a small group of KOC traveling and in-country program participants (4 – 6 participants) and be required to spend between 2 to 4 hours at the computer lab 5 days a week. Participants will be required to write a weekly blog post for the KOC website sharing their experiences and communicate at least weekly with their mentor and the team through the larger KOC mailing list.

The ideal candidate will exhibit one or more of the following characteristics

  • Knowledge and involvement in the open source community
  • Relevant computer skills
  • Experience installing and configuring Linux (we use Lubuntu) on a variety of donated hardware (laptops, desktops).
  • Ability to teach others the basics of using a file system, editing and saving documents, use of Open Office tools, how to access and navigate Khan Academy videos and offline Wikipedia and, ideally, basic programming techniques.
  • Ability to debug hardware, updating software, and troubleshoot network configurations
  • Some Spanish language skills
  • Related or relevant educational and/or open source experience
  • Enthusiasm for teaching and helping others

Additional benefits to participants

Participants will be assigned a KOC mentor who will provide guidance in person and through email. The mentor will be an experienced contributor to open source communities and a leader within KOC. You will also have free time to experience the local culture and explore local sites.

Upon successful completion of the program at the end of June, teachers from the Mexico schools will submit a review of your contributions back to KOC. If the school and the KOC leadership is impressed by the participant’s contributions, KOC will provide the participant with a letter of recommendation for use with university or employment applications.

To apply, email us at: travel AT kidsoncomputers DOT org, explaining your interest, experience, knowledge and why you would be a good candidate for the program. Please provide a link or attach your resume. Finalists will be contacted for interviews. Selected participants will be contacted following the committee’s decision on April 1, 2014.

Please email questions to: volunteer AT kidsoncomputers DOT org.

Voluntarios Locales

Kids on Computers es una organización sin fines de lucro registrada como 501(c)(3) que instala laboratorios de computación para escuelas donde los alumnos no tienen accesso a esta tecnología. Fundada y dirigida por miembros de la comunidad Open Source, proveemos computadoras y programas gratis para alumnos con dichas carencias.

Este junio, un grupo de participantes del “programa de viaje” de KOC estará trabajando en uno de los laboratorios cerca de Huajuapan de León. Estamos buscando voluntarios locales con conocimientos tecnológicos que estén interesados en participar en este programa. Esta es una oportunidad de ayudar a los niños y al mismo tiempo ganar valiosa experiencia de trabajo y educación.

Cada participante trabajará conjuntamente con un mentor de KOC, y con otros participantes en el “programa de viaje” de KOC, enseñando a alumnos y maestros acerca de las computadoras, incluyendo ayuda para la solución de problemas.

Esta oportunidad no ofrece pago, pero los participantes viviendo en México podrían recibir un apoyo que varía entre USD $200 y USD $300.

Las solicitudes serán aceptadas hasta el 15 de marzo.

    Requerimientos:

  • Ser mayor de 18 años
  • Tener la solvencia económica para cubrir sus gastos de viaje

¿Qué puedo esperar como participante?

Los participantes trabajarán con un grupo de voluntarios de KOC por un mes. Los participantes deberán enseñar clases de computación a los alumnos, entrenar a los maestros en el uso de las computadoras incluyendo investigar problemas con los equipos, actualizar los programas, y ayudar a KOC con sus procesos y estrategias para hacer la organización más efectiva. Cada participante trabajará con un grupo limitado de voluntarios de KOC y participantes en el país (de 4 a 6 participantes) y es requerido trabajar entre 2 y 4 horas en el laboratorio por día, 5 días por semana. Los participantes serán requeridos de contribuir en blogs semanalmente en el sitio web de KOC, para compartir sus experiencias, y también de comunicarse por lo menos una vez por semana con su mentor y el grupo a través de la lista de correos de KOC.

El candidato ideal tendrá una (o más) de las siguientes características:

  • Conocimiento y participación en la comunidad Open Source
  • Conocimientos relevantes de computadoras/programas (hardware/software)
  • Experiencia instalando y configurando Linux (usualmente Lubuntu) en una variedad de computadoras donadas.
  • Habilidad de enseñar a otros conocimientos básicos de cómo usar el sistema operativo, editar y guardar documentos, uso de OpenOffice, cómo ingresar y navegar los videos de Khan Academy y Wikipedia e, idealmente, técnicas de programación básicas.
  • Habilidad de investigar problemas con computadoras, actualizar programas e investigar problemas con configuraciones de red.
  • Experiencia con software educativo Open Source.
  • Entusiasmo para enseñar y ayudar a otros.

Beneficios adicionales para los participantes:

Los participantes tendrán un mentor de KOC asignado quien proveerá asistencia en persona y a través de email. El mentor será un contribuyente con experiencia en las comunidades de Open Source y un líder en KOC.

Cuando el programa termine exitosamente a finales de Junio, los maestros de la escuela enviarán un resumen de tus contribuciones a KOC. Si la escuela y los líderes de KOC tienen una buena impresión del participante, KOC proveerá al participante con una carta de recomendación útil para aplicaciones en universidades o posibles empleadores.

Para aplicar, envía email a travel AT kidsoncomputers DOT org, detallando tus intereses, experiencia, conocimientos y explicando por qué tú eres un buen candidato para este programa. Por favor, incluye una copia de tu C.V. o un enlace al mismo. Los finalistas serán contactados para entrevistas. Los participantes elegidos serán contactados después de la decision final de KOC el 1 de abril de 2014.

Por favor, envía preguntas a volunteer AT kidsoncomputers DOT org.

End of Year Campaign

Kids on Computers is running an end of year campaign to raise money for our existing and potential labs. Please consider donating to as we continue to improve education in rural areas by providing access to technology!

  • $35 provides one child access to a computer, educational software, and internet (where accessible).
  • $120 will buy shipping for four laptops to an international location. Laptops are shipped in USPS Medium Flat Rate boxes, each of which holds two laptops.
  • $250 will buy one computer (you get a photo emailed to you of a student using your computer; label attached to computer with “Donated by YOUR NAME” or “Donated in honor of YOUR CHOICE”)
  • $1,500 will fund a volunteer’s travel expenses to go to Mexico for two weeks to maintain the computers in up to eight labs and provide continuing education for the teachers and the students associated with those labs. You’ll get credit with a blog posting.
  • $10,000 will fund a new computer lab, to be named after the person of your choice. You’ll get credit with a blog posting and permanent credit on http://www.kidsoncomputers.org/labs
  • $25,000 will fund a local employee to work for three years on a part-time basis visiting and maintaining labs in one of the countries served (Mexico, Nepal, Argentina, India; your choice). You’ll get credit with a blog posting.

You can donate via PayPal (link). If you would like to send us a check, please email us at donations@kidsoncomputers.org and we will send you an address to which you can mail it.

Please note we are a 501(c)(3) organization and will provide you a receipt for your donation.

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Highlights from Assam

Our trip to Assam ended a week ago. A few times a day, my mind still wanders to our experience there and how amazing it was. Every time we reached the schools, it felt like time stopped and we had been transported to another world. I feel like we made a huge impact in the community and I wanted to share a few notes and thoughts.

  • We installed two computer labs with 20 computers total. 12 desktops and 2 laptops at Morigaon Jatyiya Vidyalaya and 6 desktops at Jatiya Vidyala Chariabahi. (Thank you Yahoo! Employee Foundation (YEF) for making these labs possible!)
  • Because we had scheduled two full weeks in India, we had enough time to do training sessions. During our past trips to Mexico, we have time to do the installation and then one training session with the teachers, but we rarely get time to do sessions with the students. Here, we did 3 official training sessions at the first school (2 with teachers and 1 with students) and 2 at the second school (1 teacher and 1 student) and many unofficial ad-hoc sessions.
  • While doing the training sessions, it became obvious how much both schools need a projector.
  • Our strength from the eyes of the schools is the content we provide with the OS. For these computers, in addition to Lubuntu 13.04, we installed the Tux Suite, GCompris, Suite of K* games, and the RACHEL content server (Khan Academy videos, Wikipedia content, MedLine content, textbooks, and more)
  • Two people – one of the computer teachers and the younger brother of a teacher (he’s in college) brought in their laptops and asked us to install Lubuntu and all of the software on the computers. Another teacher took a USB filled with content from RACHEL.
  • We were impressed with the seriousness with which the teachers begin learning how to use computers. Many would sit down through out the day and begin using Tux Type to learn how to type. At the second school, we did a contest where we asked the teachers to draw a tree using Tux Paint. The teacher with the best tree (very subjective) would get a pen. The teachers had a lot of fun kidding with each other and quickly pointed out that the tree with the most detail was done by the art teacher.
  • As always, many of the kids sat down at the computers and begin using them immediately without hesitation. They opened up Potato Guy, Tux Type, and Tux Math and begin playing.
  • One student, who was really good at geography, begin playing KGeography as a teacher looked on. He knew every state in India. He then moved onto the US and knew where many of the states were. You could see the pride in the teacher’s eyes.
  • On the other hand, some of the students had never seen a computer. Thomas, one of our volunteers, rightly pointed out during one of our sessions where we were moving onto teaching Tux Type, that some of the students didn’t even know how a mouse worked. This made me realize how much we take for granted here.
  • Localization is key. One of the challenges Kids on Computers faces by creating labs around the world is that we must also work with the various languages used in these areas. We initially installed an English distribution for these schools, but it was obvious to us that everyone at the school was way more comfortable in Assamese. Praveen, a KOC volunteer from Kerala, led the effort to install the Assamese language packs and do the keyboard mapping for the Assamese characters. The teachers still prefer to have the OS boot in English as they felt that it would benefit the students in the long run, but they found the keyboard mapping useful for writing papers or letters.
  • Vedanta, our KOC volunteer who introduced us to these schools, installed an anacron script on each computer at the first school to send us its status via email. The first school had internet by the time we left.
  • As much as we had prepared, there was still quite a bit of work to do when we got there. The OS install, software packages, and RACHEL install went smoothly. But we had to install additional packages for getting mp4 files to play on Chromium, for Flash, and for the language packs. Doing it for one computer is not so bad, but doing it for 20 is time consuming. A Kids on Computers iso would help us deploy more efficiently. We would need an iso for each language we support and they would need to be updated as new content becomes available. Let us know if you want to help by emailing volunteer@kidsoncomputers.org
  • Time moves much more slowly in India. When someone says they’ll come around noon, anytime between 12 and 2pm is acceptable. :-)
  • A big thank you goes to everyone who made this trip possible – from applying for the YEF grant, helping with determining travel logistics in India, working with the vendor, preparing software for the computers and traveling to Assam to do the actual installs. Thanks everyone so much. We are changing lives.
  • Assam is a beautiful place with amazing people. I am excited to see what this community will do with the computers and I can’t wait to go back.

You can see photos from our trip here.

Oh, what a welcome!

Our original plan was to go to the schools on Monday.  But there happened to be a district wide strike called.  The schools are in Morigaon which is  about 1.5-2 hours one way from Guwahati and traveling the long distance during the strike was not recommended.

We headed out on Tuesday and were completely floored at the welcome we received upon our arrival. As we arrived at the Morigaon Jatiya Vidyalaya school gate, we saw a beautiful banner the school had made welcoming Kids on Computers. The entire school was outside waiting for us. They greeted us with a small Puja and each of us received a hand-woven shawl with a design that is unique to Assam. As we saw the kids and their eager, smiling faces, I couldn’t help but get tears in my eyes.

Big welcome Welcome

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Morigaon is a rural district with miles of beautiful farm land and rice paddies. Cows and goats roam the roads as if it were their own. It is also the poorest district in Assam and has a literacy rate of 69.37% as of 2011.

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These computer labs have been a long time in the making and we are so happy to finally set them up. We first visited the room that had been set up for the computer lab. We determined the room was too small (we tested by having students come in and sit and saw that it would be difficult to have 12 computers running in there). We decided to use a larger room the school had. The school personnel and electrician proceeded to discuss what would need to take place in the next 2 days to convert the room into a computer lab.

After this discussion, we then visited each classroom and were greeted with a huge “Hi!” and “Namaskar!”. This school has classes from Kindergarten to 10th grade. There is one class for each grade, except for Kindergarten which has two, and approximately 15-30 students per class. The teachers had prepped the students and instructed each of them to greet us formally. The classroom walls were constructed from woven bamboo. The students sat at simple desks and benches. You could see the joy in their eyes as we spoke to them.

Class 1 Class 2

In the afternoon, we headed out to the second school – Jatiya Vidyalaya Charaibahi. This school is about twenty minutes away and in a more rural area. Both schools are privately run by an NGO which hires the teachers, sets the student tuition (100 rupees (~2 USD)/month for younger students and 150 rupees for older students), and makes decisions on what courses are taught. The committee which runs the NGO meets monthly. We worked with Nilutpal Kakati, the committee Secretary, on the creation of these labs.

School 2 Welcome   School 2

The reception at the second school was just as grand as the first one.  We were again presented with custom hand-woven shawls. As they presented them to us, they said Namaskar to us. We quickly adopted to saying it back to them. The whole school had assembled outside – the students had carried their school benches outside. We were all asked to sit at a make-shift stage with a canopy, tables and chairs facing the students. There were microphones and speakers set up for us. Nilutpal gave a small introduction and we were then all asked to say a few words. Afterwards, a group of students sang a beautiful song accompanied by live music. The students then went back to class carrying their benches back.  We went to view the computer lab and then visited each classroom here as well. As we walked back outside, we saw that a group of parents had convened outside the school gate. We proceeded to go back to the first school.

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When we got back, the computer vendor from Guwahati had arrived with the computers. To be more streamlined, we decided to use the small room as a staging room where all the computers would be installed. This way, we could work on software installations while the larger room was being prepared and the second school’s computer room was being made more secure. This first school will receive twelve computers. The second school will have six as their computer room is much smaller. I was eager to test out the OS install via USB pen drive so we pulled out one computer and put it together. Success! We were able to get Lubuntu 13.04 on there – everyone cheered for joy (well, maybe only in my head).

Computer 3 Computer 1 Lubuntu

What an amazing day! We were so excited to come back and install the computers the next day. KOC’s goal is to provide access to education and learning materials via technology to kids who don’t otherwise have access. We believe and hope the content we put on the computers will open more doors and provide for more opportunities for the kids (and adults) and they will be able to improve their own communities with this knowledge.