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The Why of Waveplace

by Timothy Falconer

Somewhere along a distant shore a little girl walks with eyes that burn. She sees everything, from the mother dog and pup searching through garbage for food, to the tangle of fishing line in the sea grapes. She takes in the details, both beautiful and terrible. She braces through flood of feeling.

At home, she cannot speak of it. At school, she fears response. In her heart, there is a passion for the world. Her talent is on the edge of immeasurable.

Would that we could say to her, "Be true", to tell her this flood might someday sustain her, become career.

We in the world are waiting for her wisdom. She needs only the path, and the courage, and the chance. This is a gift we can give.

News from the St John Pilot

by Bill Stelzer, chief mentor

Thursday January 10th was a historic day for the Caribbean. After months of behind the scenes work by Waveplace foundation, we finally handed out the OLPC laptops (among the first off the manufacturing line!) to the fourth graders at Guy Benjamin. As I rolled video, Principal Dionne Wells spoke to the kids while LaReesa Williams began passing out the XO laptops. Needless to say everyone was pretty psyched. Before you knew it everyone was plugged in, charging and setting up their XO's with their own names and custom colors.

Next I took the kids on a tour of their new machines. When we got to the neighborhood view, one of the kids asked what all the little XO's icons were for. I told her that was all of them. She didn't believe me at first, so I told her to mouse over one of the icons. When one of her classmate's names came up, there was a collective squeal of delight kids as they realized this laptop was like nothing else they'd ever seen. (Go automatic mesh networking!)

When we started our first eToys lesson, I asked the kids if they knew any computer programmers. Between them all they knew about three. I then told them that they were all about to become computer programmers themselves, some of the first in the Caribbean for their age, and that they were going to have a lot of fun, but parts of it would be hard too. And that when it got tough, they needed to keep in mind how amazing what they were doing was.

Since then, I've seen a dramatic gulf between theory and reality in the classroom, yet at the same time I really have to hand it to these kids. (As well as our other mentors, Mary Burks, LaReesa Wiliams and Laura DiCicco.) We are up against a lot of unknowns, doing something we've never done before, but these kids are really putting their hearts into it. I'm looking forward to the next eight weeks.

Overwhelmed and Honored

by Dionne Wells, GBS principal

First let me begin by thanking Timothy Falconer and the Waveplace Foundation for having this grand vision. It is through their foresight that we are able to say today how successful this pilot program is going at Guy H. Benjamin Elementary School. I am proud to be associated with this endeavor and look forward to watching it grow from school to school and across the entire district.

When you walk onto Guy H. Benjamin School, you see fourth graders walking around the campus with green and white laptops in their hands. I have come into the cafeteria and seen students eating breakfast and working on their laptops. During lunch time when students should be running around and playing with their friends, on the picnic table they sit and work on their laptops. Students are lined up at my door in the morning to ask me how come only the 4th graders have the laptops and if they will get an opportunity to be in the program as well. It warms my heart to know that my students are eager to be involved in such a technological endeavor.

The Waveplace program has broadened the students understanding of computers and the art of computer programming. The exposure that they are receiving through this program will introduce them to computer related careers that could be used to market the Virgin Islands. They will also be able to share what they have learned with their families at home.

When I think about how big this program is I become overwhelmed and honored that my school has been chosen to be a part of this movement. I look forward to seeing where we will end up once this program is implemented across the district. Once again on behalf of the faculty and staff of Guy H. Benjamin Elementary School, I say thank you for this opportunity.

Waveplace in Haiti

by Susie Scott Krabacher, president of M&S

On our January trip to Haiti we had a special treat to show the kids at our Mercy House Orphanage, the new XO laptop designed especially for children by the geniuses at One Laptop Per Child. OLPC had just announced the country recipients of the donated laptops from their Give One Get One program and, praise be, Haiti made the list. (Although as the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere it's hard to imagine how it couldn't!)

After setting everything up with Tim Falconer, president of Waveplace Foundation, our Mercy and Sharing team met up with up with Bill Stelzer, a tech mentor and documentary filmmaker with Waveplace, on the tarmac of the Port au Prince airport. It was very exciting as he was carrying with him one of the very first XO laptop to land on Haitian shores. I cannot state enough the need for these computers for our children. Resources are extremely limited in the areas where we work, and these technological marvels will not only rocket our children's education into the twenty first century, they will also give them a window to the outside world.

When we first showed the XO laptop to the kids they were completely captivated. Even though they'd never seen anything like it before, they took to it instantly as I showed them how it worked and explained the wonders it could do. They quickly mastered the camera program, as well as Tam Tam, a music making program, before I took it away to show our teachers.

After waiting patiently for me to finish my XO presentation to the adults, our little indomitable Jesse took off with the laptop and soon had a crowd of children around her as they put their heads together to figure it all out. (Get those adults out of the way!) It was incredibly inspiring to watch, especially as Jesse walks on prosthesis. The world that this laptop will open up for children like her in Haiti is incalculable.

I cannot put into words how important this opportunity is for us, and how thankful we are to be considered. Anyone who knows me knows of my heartfelt desire for our children at Mercy and Sharing to grow up as the future leaders of Haiti. Even more than charity, our foundation is dedicated to giving our kids the education they need to survive, and the mindset to lift Haiti out of the bonds that have chained it since its creation. Considering where many of our children started, this may seem a tall order, but I believe fervently that through God's strength and our own, we can do it. We just need a bunch of those cute little da gum computers.

Hope For Fancy

by Mary Scotti

The villages above the dry river on the north windward side of St. Vincent are distinct from the rest of the island. Populated by the indigenous Carib peoples, they have been largely cut off from the rest of the island ethnically, socially and environmentally. Change is in the air as a new bridge spans the river and a new road is under construction to link these rural enclaves to the rest of the island. Still the children here are sorely lacking resources that many of their Vincy peers take for granted.

The children of Fancy village, the northern-most community, do not have a library. Many families do not have electricity or indoor plumbing. While there is an elementary school in the village, older children endure long daily commutes on the only rickety bus that the village has available for public transportation. Jobs are hard to find and money is scarce. Still the village holds a kind of magic.

This village is an ideal location for the Waveplace pilot. The people speak a dialect unique to the Caribs and hold traditions and lore that only exist in this particular place among this inimitable people. The opportunity for these children to create a treasure trove of their distinctive perceptions and knowledge using the XO's is exceptional.

Lack of access to reference sources across disciplines severely limits their competitiveness in academics across fields. The XO computer would provide a leveling ground with their peers. It's a truly relevant resource for youngsters to explore, communicate, interact, engage and influence others both locally and globally.

Having spent many months and days in the bush, at school, running camps, swimming and farming side by side with these loving, amusing, delightful young people, I know first hand the gratitude and joy that they will bring to the pilot. It will certainly change their lives in a creative way that they truly deserve. The new road is sure to impact the village in ways yet unforeseen - both positive and negative. The Waveplace pilot will help them walk down their individual roads to the future armed with a new sense of voice and confidence in their own capabilities. Everybody benefits.

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Waveplace in Haiti


Call For Mentors


Waveplace on NPR