Intel Education Service Corp: Days 3-6 Quang Tri Summary

Quang Tri Province, Thursday September 10

I awoke to a warm sunrise at 5:45 AM on Thursday, and soon after, the sound of truck horns blasting on the main highway through town permeated the air. A quick breakfast of Pho, (beef and rice noodle soup) was consumed a few doors down the street at a small place with a rooster in a cage out front, and one crowing in the back. We were soon in taxis taking the 1km ride to the orphanage, loaded up with 10 Classmate PCs, 10 mice, bottled water, and snacks.

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Our first meeting with the school was over coffee in a beautiful outdoor restaurant across the road with several wooden gazebos in Oriental décor. The Vietnamese coffee was strong: some had it with sweetened condensed milk, mine was black. We were soon joined by an official of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Mr. Giang, the Deputy Director of the Department of Labor and Social Welfare, who oversees the orphanage (i.e. “major” funding).

We finished our coffee, and adjourned to a meeting room at the orphanage where we all introduced ourselves and several ceremonial speeches were made. The government provides $25 per orphan per month, which barely covers food. They rely heavily on donations from charity organizations, and volunteers like us from Intel to do medical exams, physical therapy, and in our case, tech support and software training. I expressed our honor and pleasure for being there, and soon we were ready to begin in earnest.

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We soon moved to the “computer room” with several small tables, an internet connection, and two power outlets. After a few minutes we had 9 PCs up and running, and the curious kids immediately moved in and started doing their thing. We were all amazed at how much they could do with no instruction. They were logged into music sites that streamed popular Vietnamese music, and playing games on another Vietnamese kids site. We spent the rest of the day making sure all the computers were matched “Copy Exactly!” to the 5 we brought with us, which were donated by Intel employees. (A big Thanks to the donors, and for everyone else reading this, here is my shamelss plug: They can always use more!) At the end of the day we had installed and configured the PCs with Teacher and Student accounts, Wireless access, ePals, Access Manager, and Flipshare. The kids came and went, doing their thing and letting us in to do ours as needed. We would have gone faster with out them theri, but we didn’t have the heart to kick them out. The official training would not begin until Friday.

We arrived the next day and quickly setup five PCs in the classroom and four outside so we could do smaller sessions with the kids. Ly and Sovinti took ePals inside while Todd and Nga took Skype outside. Meanwhile, Trang and I waited to do the Flip VIdeo Class. The kids learned how to communicate with another orphanage using ePals.com, which is an amazing web site that has moderated email access through only authorized connections, so no strangers or spam can get in. The web site translates from VIetnamese to English and back, so language is not an issue. The Skype students made video calls to another orphanage in Hanoi and to each other, using the built-in web cam in the CMPC. After 45 mintues we rotated teachers and students, and the Flip training began. We showed them how to record video clips and download them into the PC. Later they will learn how to edit the clips and combine them into movies. An example of a short Flip Video movie is here.

The training continue through the day and most of the 65 students got trained in all three subjects. They all were also given medical examinations by Dr. Brian McNaull, a volunteer British ex-pat out of Hanoi. During the breaks, the kids wanted pictures with me and the others, I felt like an Intel Rock Star!

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On Friday night we had a ceremonial party with the children where we used some of the money provided by Julie Clugage to have some fruit and candies, plus we handed out personal hygiene products to the older kids (toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, soap, washcloth, etc.). The students and teachers sang songs while we clapped a long. They thanked us for coming, and we acknowledged how happy we were to share with them some new skills. DSC_6374.JPGClick to Enlarge

On Saturday morning we had some makeup sessions for those that missed our Friday classes, and then in the afternoon, we gave some projects to the oldest students. Their job was to make a short movie and take some snapshots, and then send them to their friends at an orphanage in Illinois using ePals. After some trial and error, we realized there were limitations in our planned way of doing this, so we quickly came up with some workarounds.

Sunday was the last day there, and we used the morning to train the teachers in some of the things teachers need to know, such as how to use the advanced features of ePals and Skype. We left written instructions in English and Vietnamese to use as a guide, and as a starting point for future team of volunteers.

Our last meal in Quang Tri was a treat from the Vietnamese Governmemt official at a very nice open air restaurant surrounded by a fish farm. We had many of the same things we had all week: steamed Morning Glory vegetables, fish, rice, beef and noodles, calamari, soup, and rambutan fruit. It was followed with the bitter Vietnamese tea, which I like, but is an acquired taste. I will have to find a Vietnamese cookbook in Saigon so I can keep enjoying these meals, but I am told that San Jose has some of the best Vietnamese restaurants in the US, so I won’t be far from the exotic dishes.

The team boarded the same Mercedes van that met us in Hue several days earlier, and took us back to Hue for one night before flying back to Ho Chi Minh City on Monday.

(Photos by Brad Houser, Todd Carroll, and Jason Cheah)

2 Responses to Intel Education Service Corp: Days 3-6 Quang Tri Summary

  1. Franklin Tilley says:

    Brad,
    It was nice reading your blog and enjoying the vicarious adventure with you. I know how much you enjoy the noise and excitement of a family gathering, and this strikes me as an extended family. While I hope that you make a difference in the lives of these fine youngsters, I know that you must miss your time at home and maybe even another repeat of the Blues Brothers in your sanctum sanctorum. Have a great trip home, and share with your colleages my appreciation for sharing this adventure with me.
    Franklin Tilley

  2. Kristen says:

    Thanks Brad and intel for these posts. Very well written and captivating. You’ve opened up the sights, sounds, tastes of your project really well!