A group of us spent a week in Mexico in June 2015 installing and upgrading computer labs for kids in Oaxaca. This post is about one day during that trip.
For this Kids on Computers Mexico trip, we brought 21 laptops and 2 Mac Minis into Mexico from the US. We used 15 of the laptops for our new lab at the primary school, Emiliano Zapata, in Oaxaca City.
We had six laptops left and decided to use them for a school we had set up many years ago (~2009) – CAM 27. CAM 27 is a school for disabled kids in the town of Tlaxiaco. The school had changed locations and only had 2-3 working computers left.
Tuesday of the week we were there, I took the van from Huajuapan to Tlaxiaco to visit CAM 27 for the first time. This was my first trip alone within Mexico and I was a bit nervous as I am not a fluent Spanish speaker. My nervousness stemmed from making sure I got on the right van and got off at the right place! On Monday night, Young and a UTM professor had accompanied me to the van stand so I would know where to catch the van. While on the van, I asked different passengers “¿Es esta Tlaxiaco?” at each stop. After a while, someone explained to me Tlaxiaco was the last stop so I didn’t need to worry. 🙂
Hermes, Fernando, and Laura came from Oaxaca City to Tliaxco and met me at the school. Tlaxiaco is ~3 hours away by van from both Haujuapan and Oaxaca. The principal, a teacher who is a colleague of Laura’s, and the school custodian were also there. This adventure highlighted how much one needs to learn the native language of a location in order to function. After the trip, I began rigorous Duolingo training.
I had given my big bag containing 6 laptops and 1 mac mini to Hermes on Sunday so I didn’t have to carry them from Huajuapan when traveling by myself. Hermes had also bought a wireless router to allow the laptops to connect to the RACHEL content server housed on the Mac Mini.
The school is a one-room school house. They had a partition between the computer area and the classroom area. The one thing that struck me about the school is how much they care about each kid. Each kid’s photo and life story starting from pre-birth was on the wall. They had pictures of their moms during pregnancy as well. This is a very small school serving about 30 or so disabled kids with about 10 teachers.
The lab installation was straightforward. We had Ubermix installed already on the laptops and the Mac Mini ready thanks to the hard work of Javier, Randy, and others on the trip. All we had to do was configure the layout of the lab, connect the computers to the router and start them. We then begin the training portion. For about two hours, Hermes taught the 3 adults who were there that day basic computer functions, using GCompris, the TuxSuite, offline Wikipedia and Khan Academy, and much more. Fernando and I provided assistance one-on-one as the ‘students’ were going through the applications and content. Hermes did a fantastic job teaching them. To watch him in action was a real treat. Everyone was extremely appreciative of everything they learned.
We took a van back to Oaxaca City and went to Campos late at night for dinner. Yum!
It is great to have CAM 27 up and running again. I am hopeful these computers will last the school for 4-5 years if not longer. It was also great to hang out with the Oaxaca branch of KOC for the day and learn to travel on my own in-country. KOC is an adventure of a lifetime and I am very grateful to be a volunteer.
Interested in being a part of this amazing group? Volunteer here.