Sichuan Trip (2)

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blog_0607_0.jpg7th June, Puyang Primary School. The original campus collapsed during the 512 Earthquake. The current campus is now a cluster of hastily erected temporary classrooms.

It is the last day of school before the summer vacation. On the blackboards are lists of summer homework and assignments. Some parents are anxiously waiting for their child outside the classroom.

The tasks for us OLPC volunteers is twofold -- firstly, to set up the classrooms and XOs, and secondly to hold XO workshops for primary school students.

This is how the classrooms looked like when we arrived:


And we had to set up four classrooms to look like this:


And this is work in progress :)


In another room, our technical team was busy setting up the network and schoolserver:


Originally, we had hoped to use the (wireless) network to apply our patches to the new XOs (mainly Chinese localization) -- and the following are the commands to that effect:


But it turns out the wireless channels were saturated, the network became so slow that we had to use the alternative method of upgrading using USB storage devices. Having around 30 sticks allows for some "fun" like this one made by University of Hong Kong (HKU) students:


Workshop starts after lunch! In our 2 hour workshop, we aim to introduce the children to the XO and its basic functions. One additional hurdle we had to overcome in Chinese deployments was to explain the English on the keyboards. "Erase", "enter" etc., and explaining how to input Chinese characters.

(In a sense Chinese input in the mainland is relatively more simple to explain than the input systems popular in Taiwan or Hong Kong, since the Pinyin romanization system is taught in standard cirriculum in the mainland, whereas the Zhuyin, a non-romantic phonetic system is popular in Taiwan, which requires learning a keymap for using the system for Chinese input, and there is virtually no standard phonetic system in Hong Kong.)

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The children were generally excited with their new toy, and kept asking us questions as we taught them how to open the XO, type Chinese characters, and open various XO activities. In fact, most of the time we were overwhelmed with raised hands and questions, and there was a bit of shortage of manpower even with 2-3 volunteers in each of the four classrooms. The workshop session was a bit exhausting, but we were happy for the positive response from the kids.

The children were dismissed after the workshop ended, but we weren't about to go home yet. Although we still have two more workshops sessions the next day, we couldn't just leave the XO's in the classrooms. The classrooms had virtually no security, so we had to pack up the XOs in the classrooms and stash them into a temporary "storeroom". ( It turns out that the "storeroom"'s security was not much better. The security guard actually kicked open the supposedly locked door the next day to retrieve the XOs... )


A few photos of the stash:



And thus our tasks for today are all done.

I'll include a photo of our dinner (Sichuan "mala" hot pot :)


( To be continued~ )


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