Time to head north to Joburg. Then northwest to Atlanta. Then a little further north until I find myself in Boston. I’m a bit sad to be leaving so soon.
So let’s see how I did on my goals:
Get internet access at Thalana High School
I would like to call this a success, but it’s a bit premature. Though I did everything I could, the ISP has not actually hooked up the DSL line yet. We were told at the outset it could take four weeks and it will be four weeks tomorrow. I doubt they’ll have it installed tomorrow either (or I might have delayed my trip!) but I do believe they’ll have it in the next couple weeks.
Despite the lack of internet access, we did manage to create a working LAN, complete with network printing and file sharing. We linked the computer lab to the office too, so that when the ISP does hook up the DSL they should be good to go. And we got the school to sign the contract with the ISP.
Though I’d like to be there for the ribbon cutting, I trust Lucky and Andre to see it through.
Get Hlubi School back up and running post hurricane
Nope. The new principal there doesn’t see a point in having a CAT class. Simangaliso said he’ll be lucky if he can convince them to set up a single computer for library-like use. A shame, being that they have quite a bit of decent if slightly soggy hardware. I suggested they sell them on the cheap to another school that wants them, but I think they will probably just sit in storage for now.
Get Celimpilo, a young lady I sponsor, back to university
Debt cleared! Passion re-ignited! She seemed very excited to be going back to university in July. She spent her whole life growing up in a rural area, but now that she’s spent some time in the city she finds her hometown too small for her dreams. I’m really hoping she can make it work.
Sort of related: with the help of an anonymous donor friend, I’ve picked up another four university students. Including Alan & Donna’s five, that brings the total for the program to ten.
Get the Khan Academy videos installed all over.
Success! After struggling to install the original videos – a whopping 42GB – for the first couple weeks, I realized I could re-compress them to a much more manageable 9.7GB without making them any less watchable. Once I did that I could install them in 15 minutes (instead of an hour!) and burn them to a three DVD set (instead of ten!) to hand out. The smaller size also allowed me to put them on machines with smaller hard drives, and even slower machines that couldn’t play the HD videos were able to play these new versions as well.
I’ll be putting this set up on BitTorrent when I get home in case any other people can use them. It did take a day of experimentation and another two or three days of compressing to chew through all 2000 videos.
Avoid athlete’s foot this year.
I did not get athlete’s foot this year. Yay.
Bonus Round: New School!
Last year I met Nqobile, and collaborated on some music with him and his friends. This year he graduated from Ethangeni combined school and he is now working at the local market. He’s planning to go to university next January to become a teacher.
On his day off he came with me to Thalana and helped me seal the holes where our cable had gone through the walls. We mixed up epoxy and slathered it on the pipes. He seemed a bit shocked at how unruly Thalana was.
On the way home he asked why I never went to his school, Ethangeni. Truth be told it was near the town center and looked well enough I never thought they might need help. He said he thought maybe they did, and said he really liked his school and wanted me to check it out, so I agreed to talk with the principal.
Turns out they had a bunch of old but decent computers they had recently acquired and were just waiting to have set up. The principal was very excited to have my help, so I agreed to get things running. With Alan’s help I got 18 machines set up and loaded with good software – including Khan Academy, of course. I gave the teachers a presentation and they seemed very excited. We’re talking about networking them next year.
The principal also gave me some awesome schwag: a shoulder bag, folio, tee and polo shirts, and a letter of thanks.
Ladies and gentleman, it is all about the schwag.