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Class Seventeen: Glass is Half Empty March 23, 2010

Filed under: Vietnam — polyachka @ 12:34 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

New volunteer Thanh came to pick me up, I showed her the way to the shelter. We almost lost balance once and I prayed again and again for us not to crash. It would be bizarre to get into an accident and break my leg during my last week here. God, please help us.

We arrived safe and sound. The girls told me that there is no wi-fi because Miss Yen (teacher) turned it off. Why? Was there a problem? Did it stop working? Did she do it intentionally or by mistake? Can’t she fix it? Or is she afraid of viruses? Why? I felt like no explanation could justify it… Or maybe they are afraid of the freedom girls have with the Internet or loosing their power/control over the girls? Thanh said that  their wi-fi is open to the public and that is why anyone can steal it and use their information. I promised to set up a secure connection with password tomorrow. We just didn’t have enough time to do it before.

The head mistress came into the classroom and I asked her about the problem.She said, it is too expensive to have it on all day, so they disconnect it, but will turn it on just for the class… I tried to explain that the girls have to have the connection for at least several hours a day to do their homework that I send to them on-line. Deep inside I was in shock…

About translation… I noticed that sometimes local volunteers do not translate exactly what is said, but try to come up with their best intelligent guess. It happens either because they don’t understand or they think they will look better if they suggest some possible answers to my question instead of getting the exact translation of the answer for me. That brings a lot of aggravation as I need to get the real reason behind the teachers/girls behavior. I also sensed that volunteers probably would feel embarrassed to admit they don’t understand. It must be equal to loosing respect or “loosing face”. Especially since there are more local volunteers than assignments, they do not want to admit that they don’t understand in fear of loosing their position. I was wondering if it was a cultural thing, but perhaps it is a problem for all foreign language speakers at the beginnng level.

It was difficult for me to understand their explanations. I still don’t know which one is the real problem, but we had to move on. I first made sure the girls remembered how to send email attachments.We created an email account for Bi, since she didn’t have one, but for some reason she couldn’t attach any files to her emails on the XO. Meanwhile, some other computers were as slow as real turtles, others froze at the worst possible moment.We still tried to download files again or restart the computers. I told them to have as few activities open as possible so as to not freeze the XOs.

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One Response to “Class Seventeen: Glass is Half Empty”

  1. Kevin Mark Says:

    If the cost of using the wifi is too much, I would understand.
    if they want to conserve power, I would understand.
    if they are afraid of ‘the evil internet’, I would not expect there is much to worry about. It takes at least some effort to find it.
    About the open nature of the wifi, the chance that someone with the technical skill to access any of the XOs is very tiny. I would not be worried. And the need to password-protect the wifi is not a very pressing need, either. Sure, you can feel a bit safer, but I dont expect roving hackers to be traveling the hidden villages of saigon looking for free wifi. Most people who need internet for ‘real’ uses will have 3g/utms/fancy cellphone internet. So if you get someone to protect the wifi, great, but it should not interfer with the more pressing need for education.


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