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eKindling, OLPC Philippines, and Vietnam! Part Four May 9, 2010

Filed under: Vietnam — polyachka @ 10:09 pm
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Ryan: What about an OLPC community? Is it even big in Vietnam?

Polyachka: It doesn’t really exist.  There are individuals, mainly foreigners, who know about OLPC. We have a website that Mario is running- OLPC Vietnam and I’m still doing my blog. But it takes so much more effort there than here for many reasons.

Ryan: There are so many challenges

Polyachka: Many cultural barriers, it is hard to explain, why it doesn’t work the way we expect it or the way it works here. A completely different mentality. People are still new to this whole volunteering idea. “Why am I doing it for free? Explain it to me again?”

Ryan: Its definitely difficult to cultivate a culture of volunteering, especially when most potential volunteers have mouths to feed. This is definitely a challenge for us, but thankfully, our community of volunteers is beginning to grow inside and outside of the Philippines.

Polyachka: It is a different tradition, culture; you need to understand a lot of things before you start actually changing peoples’ mentality. I realized that in Vietnam you do need some funding in order to attract volunteers; you have to pay them a little bit or create some incentives.

Ryan: Incentive program, yes, at least a dinner for the group…

Polyachka: or a trip or some other recognition, but I wasn’t able to do it, as I was doing so much besides that – teaching children, learning new programs myself. Do you remember, first time I tried an XO was when you showed it to me (back in Jan). And then I had to write about it and think about what is good for the children, not necessarily for OLPC….

Ryan: I agree, because a lot of people forget that, some OLPC enthusiasts believe that it’s the magical tool to solve educational problems in the developing countries. The XO laptop is only part of the solution.  At the end of the day, we have to figure out how children can benefit from the XO Laptop. Not how the XO Laptop will benefit from the Children.

Polyachka: I heard a complaint about small deployments, especially unsustainable ones. Rich tourists go to the developing countries and bring back nice pictures and no real results.  I thought about it. Yeah, maybe some deployments are not sustainable, but that is not their main priority. They do their part testing the product, and try to get the most out of it to benefit the children. Their goal is to make those children happy and take advantage of new technology. Sometimes it is not about achieving great sustainable results like turning pilots into a huge nation-wide deployment with some super results.

Ryan: you mean some metrics: literacy rates have gone up and this saved children from poverty

Polyachka: exactly, there are drastic examples, but even if it is a small change, I’m really happy with that…

Ryan: That is good. The XO Laptop is a tool that can benefit children in various ways.  At the end of the day, we may find that providing access to an XO laptop brought joy and laughter in their lives.  This is not “increasing literacy rates”, but this is just as powerful.

Polyachka: I agree, that is why it is grassroots – you try to do what you can… Any kind of result good for children and their education works…

Ryan: what are your next steps?

Polyachka: I want to start a volunteering company that will help small and big projects around the world…

Ryan: Would you be interested in coming to the OLPC Meeting in New York and tell about your Vietnam OLPC experience…

Polyachka: Sure!  I’d love to do it…


2 Responses to “eKindling, OLPC Philippines, and Vietnam! Part Four”

  1. Kevin Mark Says:

    Thanks for having and continuing this dialog. It is very useful for future OLPC pilots.

    • verhovzeva Says:

      Hi Kevin,
      Thank you for your comments! Lets meet when I get back at the end of May, I’m sure I’ll learn a lot from you!

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