OLPC Vietnam Volunteers Meet OLE Nepal in Boston!

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

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Flag of United States  , Massachusetts
Sunday, May 30, 2010

It is early afternoon and I am waiting for Rabi and Marina outside in the Harvard Square Au Bon Pain courtyard on a beautiful sunny, breezy late spring day. The usual crowd of street performers is here. There is a folk singer with an acoustic guitar and mike that is quite pleasant. Then there is a man with a whip and he is cracking it loudly for ten minutes at a time with breaks way too short. Now a very young and very beginning violin student has shown up to  painfully serenade the passerbys.  The magic show is pretty good and overall, Marina chose a very colorful meeting spot.

Fast forward to 6:00 PM. I am on the Coach back to Hanover. Rabi, Marina and I met for nearly 4 hours. We covered a lot of ground! I just love Rabi and I am both enchanted and encouraged by his enthusiasm for the XOs and the OLE Nepal ICT learning project. (Link) Rabi co-founded this project with Bryan Berry several years ago in the pre-funded days. He is the Executive Director and chief troubleshooter of a growing deployment in 36 Nepalese schools soon to include 4000  XOs. The time, information, and insight he shared with both of us is invaluable. Thank you Rabi!

Marina returned from Central America 2 days ago. She was doing a volunteer needs assessment of small projects with whom she soon hopes to match short and longer term volunteers. She visited projects in Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua. I am disturbed to hear that In Managua, Marina was kidnapped and robbed after getting into a "fake taxi." Gratefully. she came out alive and with her passport, but all of her valuables including her camera and computer were stolen. I am so sorry Marina, and I am so relieved and glad you are safe!

I learned so much from Rabi about organizing and building a sustainable, grow-able deployment. Rabi Karmacharya, is the Executive Director of the Open Learning Experience Nepal. Rabi went to MIT, where he received his B.Sc. and M.E. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.  He worked as a design engineer for 3Com in CA for three years before he returned to Nepal.  There he co-founded the software company HimalayanTechies. He met Brian Berry in Kathmandu by chance, and together they started OLE Nepal in 2007. OLE Nepal's website has a wealth of resources for the OLPC community to share. See www.olenepal.org

I am so excited to learn about the curriculum and library that OLE Nepal has developed for the 2000 XOs already deployed there.  These include interactive digital learning materials that conform to Nepal’s national curriculum (E-Paath) and a web-based library of open, free, and high quality educational resources for teachers and students (E-Pustakalaya). Rabi demonstrated some of the interactive Activities being successfully used by teachers in the classroom already. WOW. If the OLPC/Sugar community can help OLE Nepal translate the necessary portions of this into English, then this open course-ware can be used in Englsih classroom settings, and the code can be adapted/translated into Vietnamese for use in Vietnam! And Thai, Spanish, Hindi, and, and, and....

Marina and I were interested in meeting Rabi, because he is a professional running such a successful OLPC deployment and, especially because he has just returned from Hanoi, where
he attended the Open Courseware consortium meeting on May 5-7. There, Rabi met Serge Stinckwich, who works with a project called SqueakBot : http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Projects/SqueakBot where kids use the EToys Activity to control robots.

Serge  Stinckwich has lived in Hanoi for almost two years and is a professor at a university. After meeting Rabi and discussing his work in Nepal, Serge organized a volunteer group that will meet to talk about supporting and developing/adapting/testing sugar software for the children to use on their XOs in Vietnam. The first meeting of this new group of OLPC volunteers in Hanoi will be on June 5  from 2pm until 6pm. The meeting will be hosted by CNF (Campus Numrique Francophone) inHanoi. Address: Ng 42 Tạ Quang Bửu, Q. Hai B Trưng, H Nội.

I am so grateful to you Rabi for your role in helping to make this happen, and Marina and I are so very pleased to know you!

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