Ceremony Day -The First XO Laptops in Vietnam!

Trip Start Oct 14, 2009
Trip End Dec 31, 2016

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Today was very special day.  Mr. Dung (pronounced Mr. Djung), the owner and manager of Indochina Junk JSC, planned and arranged a beautiful day and ceremony to bring XO the laptops to the Vung Vieng Village. Indochina Junk is unusual in Vietnam, for its support of a project like this. They are really a "responsible eco-tourism company." What I think is remarkable about them, is the sincere desire to help improve the lives of the people in the floating villages of Halong Bay, and not primarily for business gain. I have traveled to many places. I can tell you that there are 'tourist villages" I have been to where the goal is to have a"poor village with needy children" to show the tourists. Mr. Dung and his employees truly care about the families in the Vung Vieng Village. I have seen this with my own eyes! I hope that many visitors will consider the Indochina Junk tours of Halong Bay, not only to support this responsible tour company, but because the boats are the most beautiful and the prices are reasonable, and because you can come and see the OLPC global laptop project working in a remote location!  Go to: www.indochina-junk.com 

You can see that I speak the truth, from my description of the day!
A small group including Mr. Dung and his precious 8 year old daughter, Thu, Tuyen, Vinh, Mr. Quan and Mr. Quang, both reporters for some local media, and my new friends Peter and Ty Tran boarded the lovely Indochina Junk Princess at 7:30 AM in Hong Gai. Of course, the most important cargo, the heavy overweight suitcase from America was on board too. The VVV is about 40 Kilometers from the mainland. The cruise to the village took about 2 and 1/2 hours each way. It was a beautiful day, blue sky, mid-80's with a nice breeze. The scenery is like nothing most people have ever seen before. Halong Bay is the most spectacular natural sight I have ever seen. Don't worry, I have hundreds of photos to share!

On the boat we brought out 3 XOs and I answered lots of questions about One Laptop Per Child, Nicholas Negroponte's dream for a global education project and how I came to be bringing XO laptops from America, halfway around the world to this small floating village in Vietnam. Thu, our 8 year old, made my job easy of course. She was entertained and busy playing and learning the entire time.

When we arrived, I was surprised to see a banner thanking the Contributors Program and me. Mr. Dung and Tuyen did a lot of preparation. The teachers and a few of the schoolchildren were waiting. There was not a community space large enough to include all of the children. The government leader of the village, Mr. Dung, and some other people said very kind things (in Vietnamese). I spoke for a few minutes from prepared remarks that Tuyen had pre-translated, and we presented the 12 XO laptops to the children and teachers. I am not usually very emotional. But being here and hearing that I am the first foreigner to come to Vietnam to try and help the residents of a floating village in Halong Bay, brought tears to my eyes. The parents of the children in the VVV want their children to have a better education than they had, and they are receptive and grateful.

The XOs were a hit. The mesh even worked on the 4 or 5 we turned on.
Young adults and adults present were fascinated, especially the few that have used a computer before. Our young boat captain and another staff member discovered the built in Wiki Activity and all of the articles available there. I tried not to worry that Activities were left opened or that XOs were not shut down properly. The teachers will come to Hong Gai tomorrow afternoon for teacher training Friday and Saturday. And I will show them how to check the laptops and how to teach the children to care for and use them.

After a leisurely tasty lunch prepared by one of Indochina Junk's chefs for our group, with fresh seafood of course, we returned to the boat for the picturesque cruise back to the mainland.I am very sensitive to the culture and traditions of the village and I am not unaware of the issues that bringing computers, learning games and ultimately perhaps the internet to a beautiful pristine village and culture raise. But there is generator powered satellite tv in almost every little house this village already. I imagine that children and adults can be learning with XOs instead of watching tv!

When the Contributors Program approved my proposal for this project, Adam Holt wrote: "keep us in the loop towards carefully floating your village into the 21st century."

Yes indeed. And it has come to pass.:)

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