cariaso (cariaso) wrote,

Pack it up, Pack it in, Let me begin

IMG_20120107_180651.jpgIn 24h I'll be in China. This means I've left the schools sooner than I expected. At the moment I'm in Khon Kaen, Thailand here to attend the wedding of my friends from Wageningen, NL, Jeab and Gunnar. Being here has long been a plan, but it was expected to be only a brief diversion before returning to the schools for my final 2-3 weeks. Instead I learned 2 old colleagues from Gene Logic would be in China. This gave me the opportunity to visit one of the few countries in this region which I had so far missed, and to do it with locals who knew the language and shared my professional interests. It cost precious time with the students, but I felt it was an acceptable trade.

P1080323My interest in the schools (and work for that matter) is not particularly focused on long term face to face relationships. I want enough of that to build some personal relationships, but virtual work is more scalable over the long term. To that end I've got one more school connected to the internet. The Science and Technology Training Center teaches employable skills, with an emphasis on electrical and mechanical. There I've setup 5 new computers, and the students know how to use a set of CDs to restore them to a clean stable state. This gives them more freedom to experiment and occasionally break things, which is perhaps the only way to learn. I've gotten most of them email addresses, and intend to offer some ongoing support that way. For a few of them I already am. But leaving them early absolutely breaks my heart. I feel like I'm riding a motorboat through the wreckage of the Titanic, smiling and waving to those struggling in the water, as I call out "Sorry no room, I must hurry off".

Real programming has remained a Bridge On the River Kwai Too Far, due more to my over-extended schedule, than any lack of abilities in the students. To help get us there, I've got a few students signed up for Stanford's Intro to Computers class in mid-February. I've signed up as well, to follow the lessons to act as a supplemental teacher. Hopefully the idea of virtual learning, the prestige of a real university, and the benefits of well structured class will catch on. Time will tell.

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