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São Tomé December 31, 2009

Filed under: Vietnam — polyachka @ 7:41 pm
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Today I received three more XOs and had a great opportunity to meet more OLPC/Sugar-minded folks. Nine of us came to the OLPC office to hear Beth Santos speak about her  OLPC deployment in Africa. Long story short, last summer 31 teams of students from all over the world participated in the OLPCorps initiative. Each team of students was given 100 XO laptops and $10,000 to start their deployments in Africa.

The world of OLPC

The world of OLPC

One team from the University of Illinois went to São Tomé, a island just off the cost of Gabon, and brought their 100 XOs to the middle school of  São João. You can learn more about their experience from Mike Stern’s blog at

They installed the server and trained the teachers at the school how to use XOs. After they  left in the beginning of August 2009, all learning activities with XOs were put on hold and computers were locked up. But with help of Step Up, a non profit organization,  Beth showed up as a volunteer in São Tomé in October 2009. She started Saturday classes to teach kids Sugar activities on XOs. More about her work is on

Amazing Beth Santos

It was interesting to learn about challenges of that deployment and about general perception of education in São Tomé. Thanks to Adam for taking great meeting notes: 

Full presentation in pdf is here–sao-tome.pdf

Famous Caroline Meeks and Adam Holt

The questions are: If children do not go to college after school and there are no technology related jobs in the country, what is the educational goal for children? And what is XO/Sugar role in particular? Is it to help children read and access great digital books? Or to develop special skills to help them become writers, musicians, painters, etc? Could those skills be used in business –  arts and crafts,  local newspaper,  photostudio? Is the goal to connect children with the outside world? Or just help kids discover the world of games, and simply make their childhood happier? Is it a temporary tool for self improvement and development or is it long lasting?

 What if those kids only have access to the computers for one year, but they will never see/use computers ever again in their lives?  How will that experience of owning a computer for one year will impact their life for better?

From Beth’s presentation I learned for sure that kids  love their XOs!  And they are eager to learn.

I visited my neighbor’s cat Bam Bam today. Everytime he sees me he keeps meowing, as if trying to say: “Where have you been? I need more  affection and your presence!” And after I play with him, pat him, hold him in my hands, he still wants more. And I wonder if there is a limit to his  desire to receive affection. I doubt there is a point  at which he doesn’t need it anymore.

Perhaps, it is the same with people’s desire to learn and discover new things, to receive knowledge. In São Tomé XOs brightened children’s world, put smiles on their faces and made them proud as every new piece of knowledge is a personal achievement, growth and progress. 

There is no limit to curiousity and desire to learn. And how children are going to use that knowledge in life  is up to them.

Three more XOs in the bag are waiting to travel to Vietnam


4 Responses to “São Tomé”

  1. maximumbeth Says:

    What a great post!! I had no idea you posted about this!! Thanks so much for coming to the talk. If you ever have any more questions, please let me know. And definitely keep me posted about your adventures in Vietnam!


  2. Waterflow Says:

    Great intiative, respect!!

  3. […] remember my questions from and I think I found some answers. Volunteering is very rewarding and I would recommend it to […]

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