Intel Education Service Corps: Egypt Week 1 – In Sha’allah

Will the taxi driver be able to find the entrance to the Cairo train station when there doesn’t seem to be one? In sha’allah. Will we make it up and over the tracks with 8 pieces of luggage in time to board the train? In sh-allah. Will the train arrive before midnight in El Minya? In sha’allah. Will the charging carts for the Classmate PCs be transported from the port in Alexandria to the schools in Upper Egypt in time for us to install them? In sha’allah.

God willing everything has gone well so far (although there are still a few charging carts in Alexandria because they couldn’t fit in the van.) We all made it onto the train (even Leroy with his 80 pound bag!) and settled in comfortably to find we were in car #1, but our tickets were for car #2. Down the luggage came and back to car 2 we went.

Max Mahmud men CMPCs.JPGOn our first day of work we set-up Classmate PCs in four schools. Ali, Max and I went to a secondary school about one hour outside of Minya. We were welcomed by a very enthusiastic group of teachers and school principals. (Our car was followed by an overprotective pair of Minya police men who honked vigorously whenever a cow, donkey or group of laborers was in the road ahead of us.) We went to work in the computer lab which was covered in a layer of thick sand and dust. The teachers joined in the effort and after being shown once how to set-up a CMPC were off and running by themselves. We were joined by Mahmud, the son of the school principal, who is 13, a little shy, and very into computers. He learned the setup too, and helped in naming each computer which is a tricky thing for those of us that don’t speak (or read!) Arabic. Mahmoud told me his favorite computer game is Jet, his second favorite is Foot (soccer), and he watches Tom & Jerry and Sponge Bob on TV. When everything was set-up he got online and played some Foot while we all watched. His father was full of pride and invited us back to their house for lunch, but unfortunately we were running late and had to head to the next school.

Somewhere about 2 hours into the set-up at school #2 I started to lag a bit. The only food we had eaten since breakfast was cookies, Fanta, Coke, and tea – all kindly provided by the schools. (The cookies at the first school were the best cookies I think I’ve had in my entire life.) But by 3pm the sugar high had turned into a deep low.

I dozed in the car on the way back to Minya and am hoping dinner will be soon. In sha’allah.

Update from day #2

girls at school 2 day 2.JPGWe set-up Classmate PCs in 4 more schools (200 PC’s so far!) I was with Leroy and Dina today and we showed girls in both of our schools the CMPCs and I got some great footage of their excited faces. Dina helped me interview several of them – one wants to be a doctor, two plan to be teachers, and one is going to be an engineer. We’ll be in touch with her again in about ten years.

Ali and Max were at a school this morning that asked them to do Q & A’s with students and they became major celebrities in the village. When asked to be shown to the bathroom the school principal shouted to everyone, “Mr. Max is going to use the WC!”

Dinner last night was amazing, so we are headed back for more. There is a football match between two Egyptian teams tonight and the entire country will come to a standstill. Everyone we worked with today was anxious for us to finish early so they could be home in time to watch the game.

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