Mario Behling lives in Mekong Delta. I heard about him from Nancie Severs. We met in Saigon in February, but this time it was my turn to travel to Cantho by bus to meet him and discuss Vietnam OLPC. I learned that Mario is Jack of all trades. He runs with his fiancé a marketing company in Cantho, teaches German, English, works on several open source projects.
Here is what I found about him on the Internet: “Mario is a FOSS advocate known in the international FOSS community through his activities with FOSS Bridge, Freifunk and the LXDE Community. Mario, originally from Berlin, has lived in different countries like China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Australia. He was elected as a president of the LXDE Foundation in 2007. As part of his support of the free wireless freifunk community he maintains different freifunk websites. During his consultant work for FOSS Bridge he advised companies such as Bull, OTRS, Gonicus and Nightlabs on internationalization strategies with focus on Asia.”
We talked about volunteering longevity. Mario told me some people devote themselves fully to non-paid projects to the point of self exploitation as it is truly addicting. But eventually their financial troubles force them to find paying projects. It is important to have a healthy portfolio of paid and non-paid gigs 🙂
Mario mentioned that he hasn’t met any Sugar contributor in Vietnam yet, but there are many opportunities for those who are interested. He wrote in his letter:
“We are starting regular meet ups of a local group in the Mekong Delta and start a cooperation now with the Cantho University for some Open Source events. This cooperation give us the chance to introduce OLPC more in detail as well. And I also am talking to the University of Technology. Even though there is a big interest of course things take time. Particularly, we need to take our time to see which students are genuinely interested and persistent…
Last November we organized GNOME.Asia (http://gnome.asia) and many of the volunteers and participants were excited to hear about OLPC. While there are challenges, progress is fast and many young people (and older ones as well) are open to new ideas and teaching and leaning methods that put learners in the middle.
After learning a lot during my work with OLPC Afghanistan (http://olpc.af) and Mike Dawson I realize even more, that we are facing similar challenges all over the world. And we are profiting a lot from the experience made elsewhere. Just like in Afghanistan, Nepal, Uruguay … we need teachers who can help students to achieve the most, teachers who can also work like trainers. Even more than ever before – with the exploding access to knowledge through the Internet and OLPCs, it is impossible to know everything. The XO as a training device is already helping us a lot to push new ideas of working together, sharing and self motivated learning in the region. So, I can see many opportunities for our goals in Vietnam”.