IESC Uganda: Week One

As part of Intel’s ongoing commitment to improving education through the effective use of technology, Intel’s Education Market Platforms Group (EMPG) launched the Intel Education Service Corps (IESC) in September 2009. This program is a short-term service and career development opportunity, for a select group of Intel employees to travel to a developing country to directly support the deployment of Intel-powered classmate PCs. In this blog, Mark Friedman, a senior attorney with Intel Legal, recaps his team’s first week of experiences in Uganda.

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Intel Education Service Corps Uganda: Week One

by Mark Friedman

Nganyuse Okulaba! (“Welcome” in Luganda). Six Intel volunteers – Donna Collins (HR), Ben Silva (Embedded Group), Mike Baker (IT Revenue & Demand Management), Sergio Cascante (IT Operations), Joya Chatterjee (Education Market Platforms Group) and Mark Friedman (Legal) — arrived in Kampala, Uganda last weekend to begin our Intel Education Service Corps adventure.

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On Monday, Team Kisaboka (“progress” in Luganda) joined up with Eric Morrow and Asia Kamukama from the Maendeleo Foundation, who have an NGO on the ground delivering computer training to students using a solar-powered mobile classroom. Our outdoor “classroom,” consisting of a few tent tops to provide shade, tables and chairs, was powered by three 80-watt solar panels and a 150 pound lead acid battery charged the previous day via the solar panels to run 20 Intel-powered classmate PCs.

During the week, we provided three days of basic computer skills training to forty 15-18 year old students at Kawempe Youth Center in a poor area just outside of Kampala. In our first training session, the students progressed from “what is a mouse” to basic proficiency in Microsoft® Excel and the internet. It’s hard to describe the look of amazement and wonder on some of the students’ faces when they experience the web for the first time. But in no time, they were naturals. They quickly found their way to websites for their favorite pop stars, football (soccer) teams and even politicians.

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At the end of the session, after pulling the students away from their now beloved Intel-powered classmate PCs, we had a small ceremony where each was given a very official-looking signed, stamped and laminated certificate of achievement, which they can now use to bolster their qualifications as they seek employment.

During the week, we also provided computer basics training to 300 primary school students aged 10-12. Because the students were younger and we had so many, we worked with 20 students at a time for 30 minutes each, introducing them to computers for the first time. Each day, two of us also stayed behind at the Maendeleo Foundation “Training Center” (room next to founder Eric Morrow’s house) where we led a more intensive one-day course for Makerere University students aged 21-23 who had been hand-picked by their professors to receive computer training. All of the students we taught – 10 year olds, 16 year olds and university students — were extremely enthusiastic about this opportunity and all proved to be quick learners.

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After a great first week, we all hopped in a van and drove five hours north where we spent the weekend alongside the Nile River at Murchison Falls, which was made famous in The African Queen with Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn. We are truly enjoying getting to know Uganda and its wonderful people. Thanks to Intel for providing this incredible opportunity.

P.S. Click here to catch up on the adventures, experiences and learnings from the 14 previous Intel Education Service Corps teams and the other teams who are working right now in India, Kenya and Vietnam.

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