Hello world! We are the final Intel Education Service Corp (IESC) team of Spring 2010, on deployment in India. We hail from Intel in Bangalore, Chandler, Portland, Santa Clara, and Seattle. We have partnered with CARE in India to install Intel-powered classmate PCsin 3 rural schools, and deliver training on said PCs. CARE is an incredible worldwide organization, and the India branch has been good to partner with. We’ve been developing a game plan via phone call meetings and emails for the past several months, to prepare as much as possible for the adventure we will be undertaking.
(The team, from left: Jyoti Achar, Tim Dery, Sandeep Gupta, Venkatesh Kambhammettu, and Sriram Vaideeswaran)
While our team has varying backgrounds, one common factor is the desire to go go go! Despite setbacks (which I’ll get to shortly), the team’s response continues to be of “what do we have to work with, and how can we get these PCs to these schools?”
It might be appropriate to name our team “Team Murphy’s Law”. To wit, our initial plan was to come to India in mid-March and spend two weeks in Uttar Pradesh. However, it took awhile to iron out all the details and finalize the schools we’d be visiting, and arrange for the logistical support we’d need. Planning something like this can be a challenge, and having the majority of the team on the other side of the world adds to that challenge. The folks we met with in India had many a late dinner due to the evening meetings, but those meetings have been paying off. We eventually finalized our plans to fly to New Delhi on 17-Apr, and visit the three schools in the following two weeks.
One cannot win an argument with an erupting volcano – it lacks the comprehension and language facilities, and really only knows about lava (and some rumors it heard from a cousin, but those are not worth repeating here). Venkatesh was set to have a stopover in Germany – his flight was cancelled due to the ash cloud over Europe from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano eruption in Iceland! The team learned of this Friday morning, PST, as the other US members were preparing to board their respective flights. What can you do? Soldier on, and work with what you’ve got. The rest of the team had uneventful flights, and arrived tired but excited and ready to close on the remaining loose ends and do what we came to do: bring technology to students that can really benefit.
After using Sunday to get acclimated to our new surroundings, the 44 degree C (111 degrees Fahrenheit) heat, and beat the jet lag, we met on Monday at Intel India (sans Venkatesh – he was able to get a flight that didn’t go through Europe, but he wouldn’t be arriving until Monday night) to meet some of the Intel India folks that had been helping us. We planned to meet to discuss the ground realities we’d face in the field, take final stock of our plan, and determine all we had to work with.
As it turned out, 39 of the important items we’d need would not arrive on time. This would be the classmate PCs we were planning to deploy! Due to some shipping mix-ups, the systems would not arrive on Monday as planned, but Thursday or Friday. As we were planning on being at the first school on Thursday, this was clearly a problem. Add to that the fact that the schools may finish their school year early due to the current heat wave.
What happened next was incredible to be a part of. The team barely missed a beat. We remained positive, with the sole focus being “what can we do, given what we have to work with?” We spent several hours brainstorming, thinking outside the box, making phone calls, sending emails, and teambuilding through adversity. We talked through the different possible solutions we could think of, to see what our best choice would be. Sriram was able to borrow six classmate PCs locally, which we could use to give training at the schools. This will allow us to remain on our planned schedule! Once the PCs for the project arrive in New Delhi, they will be shipped to us in the field. We’ll need to install the software we need and configure them as we go, but we will make it work.
On 20-Apr, we met with CARE at their offices in New Delhi, to discuss our plans and to meet face to face with the people we’d been working with remotely for the past few months. Despite our run-ins with Murphy’s Law, we were all excited that the seed of the prep work we’d planted was in fact growing!
It’s now the morning of 21-Apr and I’m up early, excitedly typing away. We head to the town of the first school today and will be sharing our knowledge and expertise with teachers and students tomorrow. We can’t wait!