The FISL congress is over and it was great talking to the enormous amount of people who showed interest in the XO learning laptop and the OLPC project. It was nice to see people’s interest turn into large smiles by the time I was done explaining the project and answering their questions. Many stayed for fifteen minute or more and some even came back multiple times to play around with the machines and ask more questions.
However the one thing that made this trip truly wonderful was seeing the laptop in action at one of the trial schools in Porto Alegre.
Here, in this school, with a library no bigger than the size of a small classroom mostly filled with desks, we found enthusiastic children happy to see us. Now with the laptop and the Internet, children in the school have access to information which would fill their library a hundred times over.
One of the things we first noticed when walking into a classroom of kids using the laptops was the way the kids personalized their computers with stickers.
The white surfaces of the laptop offered perfect canvas for their creativity, which was as vibrant as any grade school child I have ever met.
We went around talking to children, mostly with the teachers translating for those of us who did not speak Portuguese.
They were also happy to listen to English. For those of them who have learned a bit, hearing from a native speaker can be very helpful. “What is your name?” was a question asked many times.
I wasn’t the only one taking pictures. One of the children’s favorite activity was taking pictures with the XO’s built in camera. Perhaps they will use them to create a photo journal – just as I am doing.
The teachers themselves are enthusiastic about the project. Many of these children do not have toys at home, let alone computers. The school has implemented a toy program where children who are more privileged than others donate their toys to a shared toy chest. They recognize that it is important for a child to play. The teachers are keen to give these kids as much as they are able.
But even with play one thing that amazed me during my trip to the school was when the kids were let out into the courtyard. While some of them went running around playing games a good portion of them sat down outside with their laptops and continued to work…
Each child was different, bringing a smile to my face with their creativity, intelligence and yes, funny antics.
Some of the children were able to make it to the congress, walking around the showroom with their XO’s and showing attendees what they liked best about the laptop.
The experience made the long hours working the booth worth it. It also affirmed to me the real reasons I decided to work on the project when given the chance to switch from Red Hat’s desktop group.
Look for video taken at the school a day after I had visited in Red Hat Magazine some time in the future.[read this post in: ar de es fr it ja ko pt ru zh-CN ]