Ryan: You never got to that point? How was it structured? What was the daily activity for students participating?
Polyachka: I was teaching in a shelter, where children are orphans. It was not a school, where teachers are available to learn and then transfer their knowledge to the kids. I was a shelter, where there is a director and children living there. Children go to school every day, but school is in a different location. I would come for 2 hours in the evening Mon-Fri and we would learn something new. I don’t speak Vietnamese, so there was always a translator. A local volunteering company provided translation and transportation. We had 20 classes in total and the exam. All the girls passed it and they got the Teacher certificates, so that they can teach software Sugar to other children in the shelter.
Ryan: So you were training educators to educate the rest of the students. That is great. They were all girls. That is the kind of stuff that OLPC wants to hear.
Polyachka: Probably, but our communication kind of stopped because we used the Google translator in the beginning but it gets messy. And sometimes it translates into total nonsense. The other problem is that we never figured out Vietnamese keyboard, as some symbols don’t work on the XO, which makes it impossible to use the Write activity. That was the point of my whole deployment – to figure out what works, what needs to be improved and what are the next steps. Unfortunately, the keyboard localization isn’t working well as several characters don’t work. That is why it is hard for children to write to me, and then I can’t translate and understand what they write. It is Latin alphabet, but with several extra symbols, you apply accents on top of every letter. One letter can be used in many different ways and produces different meaning.
Polyachka: So even though the girls achieved a lot and now they have the Internet after we installed a router, not all is perfect. We have an arrangement with the director, so that the children can use the Internet several days a week. But it is hard for me to tell what are they doing right now, whether they use computers at all, never mind teaching other kids, as I don’t have communication with them. So that is my problem. And there is no one in Vietnam who could do it on regular basis.
Ryan: It is hard to find enthusiastic people who are there all the time. What about the Vietnamese community?
Polyachka: There were a lot of people who volunteered to be my translator, they were interested in the project but no one could commit to be that liaison between the group and me because they all want paid jobs and some benefits that I can’t not give them because I have no funding.