This was our last night in the city of Quang Tri. The city is very much alive as I write this story at 11pm local time. For tonight the city is celebrating Autumn festival. I’m sitting in the lobby writing this blog and reviewing the ePals presentation that Ly and I will be delivering an internet learning solution called ePals to the Oversees Orphanage tomorrow morning. ePals is an collaborative internet based site that encourages schools, families, and teachers to communicate, learn, and team together on educational projects. This learning solution allows for email and blogging to add to the learning process on various topics such as Geography, Global Warming, History and reading.I take a quick break and let my mind wonder for second. I began watching the fireworks go off in the sky a few miles away. After the fireworks end I watch as the celebrants on motor bikes and on feet zoom passed the lobby heading home for the night. A bit of homesickness touches me. I haven’t seen my children in it seems like forever. Though its been only six days, I missed my nightly harangue: get your pjs on and brush your teeth, daddy will be upstairs to read a book and say prayers. Don’t let me repeat myself. Earlier in the day we taught the childen at the orphanage for the last time before heading up to Ho Chi Minh City. It was a very inspiring day. After only one day of training the children have seemed to be very comfortable with the classmate PCs. At one point during the training session, a child was struggling with adding an attachment to his email. As I went to help him, he moved my hand out of the way so that he could figure things out himself. He literally wouldn’t let me put my hand near the lap top. Today was a great day. My partner Ly and I taught the students how to use the webcam on the classmate PCs to take pictures and make videos. The objective was to use visual formats to communicate with kids in an elementary school in Illinois. The previous day we taught the children how to compose and reply to email. Now we have the students add attachments such as pictures and videos less than 2meg sized to their email which enhances their learning and communication experience. The smiles and laughter from the students filled the classroom and made the extremely humid day worth a second. It is really exciting to see how quickly the students are able to apply what they have learned in just a short amount of time. Earlier in the week, the children received several emails that had pictures and videos embedded in them from their peers in Illinois. Now, with the aid of the classmate PCs, the students in Vietnam can reply or compose new email with their own pictures and videos. Earlier in the day we taught the childen at the orphanage for the last time before heading up to Ho Chi Minh City. It was a very inspiring day. After only one day of training the children have seemed to be very comfortable with the classmate PCs. At one point during the training session, a child was struggling with adding an attachment to his email. As I went to help him, he moved my hand out of the way so that he could figure things out himself. He literally wouldn’t let me put my hand near the lap top. After we leave, we will create additional direction for the children to engage in ePals. There is really no learning ceiling for these kids. With their initiative, joy, and eagerness to learn how to use the classmate PCs, the students will continue to close that technology gap that is so prevalent today. We are taking the first of many steps in this journey.
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