About 2 weeks ago I was with some of the Canadian donors who noticed a neighbor dog struggling for air, after it had gotten it's chain tangled. I jumped the fence to move a table to where he could stand on it and breathe easily, but was bitten when I got too close. The bite wasn't bad, but it certainly drew blood. Dogs here are much less likely to be vaccinated, so I had some concerns about the need for rabies shots. I asked Bo to speak with the owners and inquire about whether I would be wise to go for rabies shots. There wasn't a huge urgency, but it couldn't be too much delayed either. When I finally saw him again 3 days later, he said he'd not had a chance, and I shuffled off a bit grumpily thinking "I could die from this".
Yesterday while crossbow fishing he became trapped underwater and drowned. This afternoon I learned the news when someone asked me "did you hear about Bo?" as they handed me their camera with photos of his bloodied and stiffened body.
This school, Hsa Thoo Lei, will be closed for 2 days, but it will slow me down only a bit. Only the 6h of my week which go formal classroom teaching of the 50 students in the 2 oldest grades will be affected. Using our 14 classroom computers I try to emphasize Internet (gmail, facebook, wikipedia, youtube, khan academy, wikihow, URLs and HTML) so far. This week they've been working on maintaining a blog and posting how-tos. Some students are fresh from camp with limited english, and negligible typing. Others have access to a computer at home and turn in high quality assignments at late hours.
There are 3 other schools [STTC, Kaw Tha Blay, and (unnamed - I go there for the 1st time tomorrow)], where I have a more irregular or emerging schedule. I may be able to say more about them in a future blog post. But as in the past, I try to ignore organizational boundaries, adapt to geographic ones, and focus on students who show talent and the ability to teach to others in native language.
More of my time goes to being a network administrator. Our network has grown from 4 machines and 80 students during my trip in 2005 to ~60 machines and 800+ students. We've kept the internet quite accessible (never enough for my taste, even facebook is a learning experience out here) but students with limited english are easy prey for viruses, trojans, and malware. Much of the last 2 weeks were an attempt at building a virtual machine environment which quickly cleans itself after each class. This would allow students to learn from the freedom to play with the control panel and install programs, without messing it up for whoever comes next. Sadly, as of this morning I'm writing off the whole effort as a wash. The standard tool for typing in Burmese relies on a ctrl-shift keyboard combination, which is silently dropped by Microsoft Virtual PC. I'm not willing to sacrifice their ability to use their own language, to make the admin job easier. So this job takes my time, but not my heart.
My heart and my evenings are reserved for teaching programming (the new Latin). Not because I'm the sort of person who compares programming languages and idioms to poetry, but because most of these students are poor, stateless, and legally forbidden from most local travel, education and careers. This time I'm trying with a new book and a new IDE. There have been setbacks and disappointments, but the successes glow like 1000 suns. And so each day we will try again. Wish us โชคดี.