Archive for May 2009

Off to Uganda!

May 29, 2009

Today marks one week until I am off to Rwanda/Uganda for the summer.

Rough Itinerary:

-June 6th – June 17th: Kigali, Rwanda: One Laptop Per Child Corps training

-June 17th – August 13th : Just outside of Kampala, Uganda: distribution/working with OLPCs and kids there

I am definitely excited to start out this whole journey, although I wish I had a bit more time before I had to leave.  It should be amazing though.  Rwanda and Uganda are both two of the countries I would like to visit most in Africa, so I am incredibly excited to finally see them, and to hit up another (very different!) continent.  Rwanda has fascinated me since we studied the genocide in high school, and I am incredibly interested in seeing for myself how the country has developed and healed after such a traumatic event.  It is also supposed to be an incredibly beautiful place, full of lush hills and great people.  Uganda, while a bit more on-the-beaten path (if there is such a thing in Africa), should be none-the-less intriguing.  It’s known primarily for being the beginning of the Nile, for its safaris and gorilla tracking, which I will most likely not be taking part in, and for being “the best of Africa all in one”.  We’ll be living in the slums outside of Kampala.  What exactly that means, I have no idea, since I haven’t been able to find any pictures or descriptions of where we’ll be.

What I’m the most excited about for this trip is primarily the huge amount of learning that I think I will get from it, and hopefully some progress for our project.  On the whole, I am highly skeptical of the One Laptop Per Child movement, and more generally, the idea that technology can save the world.  Are these laptops really what these people want or need?  Can they really make that big of an impact, or are there other things that could be done that would be more effective?  Just the first question alone requires a caveat.  From my, completely outsider and Western, mindset, it seems to me that the money could be spent better elsewhere – that providing clean water, more nutritious food, better healthcare, etc, would be a much more effective way to spend $100.  But if there’s anything I’ve learned in the past year, it is that my conceived notion of what is needed is very different a lot of times from what the people there actually want.  And who are we to tell them what they need?  Maybe these laptops really are what people there want, and they are completely satisfied with other aspects of their lives.  And if that is the case, then maybe this movement is actually a great one.  But if the laptops are a Western idea of what people in developing countries “need” being transferred around the world, then maybe we should take a second look.  I know that in my mind, those $100 could go a long way providing vaccines, higher quality food, clean water systems, more reliable electricity.  I’m excited to see for myself if this is a construct of my own ideas and notions, or whether people actually would prefer to get things other than these laptops.

Hopefully this proves to be a productive trip, and keep checking back for updates!  As I mentioned, I reallly have no clue what our arrangements will be, but internet should be readily available so hopefully this will get updated.

As I mentioned before, our team blog can be found at: http://uganda-olpc.blogspot.com.

Whooooaaaa, we’re halfway there…

May 22, 2009

Another year has somehow already gone by, which puts me at halfway through MIT.  And while I can’t believe that’s true, I thought about high school yesterday, and realized that it felt like eternities ago, not just two years.  This year especially has been a long one, and has tested my personal limits in about every way possible.  But because of that, I’ve grown as well.  Freshman year was for me a year of freedom, of doing as I pleased when I pleased without a care in the world, of late nights with friends, and of new beginnings, as anyone’s freshman year should  be.  This year, in a lot of ways, was a complete 180 from that.  Yes, I still had my crazy nights and care-free days, but I also traveled, began to see the world, to carve a path for myself and figure out what that path should be.  I think that for some reason this year also taught me a lot about myself, and has made me appreciate all of the experiences I’ve had in the past.  While sometimes it’s hard to reminisce about the places I’ve loved and the people I’ve appreciated that I will never really be able to experience again, it’s comforting in some strange way to at least still see a part of those people and places in me in some way.  Hopefully next year will be a happy medium between the last two; I don’t know that either was my ideal, but somewhere in between the two would be fantastic.

A selection of memories…

  • Peru: delicious chicha morada, living at Westfalia Orphanage and teaching the kids there, seeing Machu Picchu, one of the most mindblowing places I have ever been, visiting Amparaes in the Andes and experiencing the most true hospitality and generosity I have in my life, understanding and seeing international development, and the usefulness of simple technologyIMG_3813
  • Panama: making great friends + the formation of DD11 🙂 , experiencing an area of change and development, mojitos, seeing what urban planning does and can do for an area, Casco’s beauty and complexitiesPanama! 162
  • Gymnastics: beaver tryouts, being so close to Nationals, testing both my pain tolerance and patience, finally understanding just how much the sport and team really mean to meDSC_0031
  • Learning what Theta really means to me, why I’m here, and having the amazing experience of living with and around amazing people all of the time who will always be there to go crazy with me or sit with me for a life talkIMG_2883
  • Essentially having 3+ roommates for the second half of the year 🙂5.9.09 048

And alas, in two weeks I am off to Rwanda and Uganda for the summer!  Check out our team’s blog at:  http://uganda-olpc.blogspot.com/.