October 23rd, 2006

bacteria for humans & viruses for computers

My first post of this trip mentioned "a kid with a semi-open sore below his knee". I recently spoke with the doctor. She believes he has had TB growing in the joint for 4 years. She's begun him on a 6 month course of antibiotics which will probably save his life and prevent him from spreading it to others in his school.

I also spoke of a kid at a smaller school who was about to get internet. I've done many visits to his school, but only to setup their single machine. By default it was only usable as the Administrator, which meant that viruses and spyware quickly swarmed the machine. The internet is a dangerous place for computers, especially when being used by someone who only barely reads english. I've now got him trained to send me emails, with screenshots of any problems he needs help with. But he continues to ask when I will come to really teach. And it breaks my heart that I don't have enough hours in the day.

Why? Because today was the first weekday of a 2 week semester break. Only the students who live here are around. Sound relaxing? Everyday this week I will teach 8 hours of class to 70 students using 6 machines. The day started with kids who had literally never touched a mouse, and proceeded through what I consider Computers 101. For portions of it, we even passed around computer memory and hard drives, talking about the capacity, speeds, and benefits of each. For the most advanced class (many of them were my students during my last trip) we discussed some of the plumbing of  the internet before giving them gmail accounts. We will begin to do as much work as possible via email, to ensure a smooth transition when I am no longer here.

Everything must be taught in 3 different languages (Karen, Burmese, and Thai) since even the best students have only rudimentary english skills and some speak almost no Karen. Needless to say, none of this would be even remotely possible without my translator and co-teacher Kyaw Lwin. By the afternoon, I can even nap a bit while he teaches material we've jointly covered earlier in the day. My deepest thanks to him.