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OLPC SF Summit Feedback (Part Two) October 30, 2010

Thank you so much Sameer, and everyone from SFSU and the San Francisco area for being such great hosts to this conference.

I don’t suppose you expected this many people when you started, yet your event was highly scalable for the 100+ of us to meet each other and share a myriad of experiences.

Best of luck with your OLPC programs in Jamaica and worldwide”.

Nick Doiron

Pittsburgh, PA

“Loved the conference, the people (must be my crowd), the inspiration, the sense of accomplishment, the venue, the food in the concourse food court, stayed close by at my cousin’s, loved the party (despite collision with boulder!).  Food was really interesting, and we cleared the boulder from the road on the way back. 

Hope to see everybody soon, and even more OLPC folks as our effort gains momentum”.

Jessica Curtis

Staten Island, NY

I just got back home to Birmingham, Alabama.  Many thanks to all the organizers who made this happen.  Some of us spend so much time talking with folks online, we forget how truly valuable “meatspace” is.

And special thanks to Robert Howard and his lovely wife for hosting me”.

Anna Schoolfield

Birmingham, AL

I am Almost Home, waiting for a plane from Atlanta to Indy.  I had a fantastic time and I look forward to the wonderful things that will arise as a result of the great weekend courtesy of Sameer, Adam, the Kleiders.

Thanks, Sameer and everyone else for a fantastic event! It was great to see old faces and meet new ones. I am invigorated and inspired by all the good work you do!”


Christine Murakami

Columbus, OH

Click on the names of these Summit participants to view them on


OLPC SF Summit Feedback (Part One) October 29, 2010

Filed under: Volunteering — polyachka @ 4:21 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

“All, I was so lucky that my travels brought me coincidentally to San Francisco for the conference.  It was a great joy to see all that has been done by all of you with the laptops and you have inspired me to head back to Asia and keep improving both the cost and performance of the hardware & to help highlight to OLPC where a little help for some of your projects could go a very long way.

For me it was the first time to meet so many of you whom I have heard about for many years. 

Thank you so much for putting such a warm, friendly, and open conference and for all the work you are doing for the world’s children”. 

Mary Lou Jepsen

CEO, Pixel Qi Corporation

Taipei, Taiwan

“Got home to Washington DC late last night where I stop for a few days before heading back to Mumbai and on to Mangalore!

Thank you Sameer for putting together such a great Community Without Borders event!

It was so worth it coming all the way from India.

Please thank Mira for the Volunteer T shirts that she painted and her delightful conversation.

Very special thanks to The Kleider Clan for opening their home to us and the wonderful dinner and all the food and drink though the 3 days. 

Carol Ruth Silver ..Thank you for braving the SF Fog and dealing with the flat tyre so late at night…Thanks for the cozy bed at your home and the early morning hot tea and ride to the airport I feel indebted. 

Sameer can we still update the participant lists with pictures so that we have the name and faces right”.

Harriet Vidyasagar

Digital Bridge Foundation

Mangalore, India


Thank you again for inviting me to the community summit in SF… I found it both incredibly inspiring and informative, and I am very glad I managed to meet so many OLPCers face to face”.

Mark Burnett,

Head of IT Strategy

Bearing Point Consulting

London, UK

Click on the names of these Summit Participants to view them on


OLPC San Francisco Community Summit 2010 October 26, 2010

There were six people who flew from Boston to SF for the OLPC summit this past weekend, three of them work for OLPC, one for SugarLabs, one for public media non-profit and myself. It was a beehive of a weekend, as everyone felt like a bee taking active part in presenting, learning and collaborating! The opening reception took place on Friday evening at the Market st location of SF State University, kindly arranged by Sameer Verma and SF OLPC community. It was great to hear Carol’s announcement of San Fran Mayor’s decision to proclaim Sat, Oct 23 of 2010 as One Laptop Per Child Day in San Francisco.

On Friday my role was to encourage people to pin their home locations with red sticker dots on the world map so that we know what countries and continents are represented at the summit. People from all over the world came to the event and shared their OLPC experiences and deployment stories. To name a few, Mongolia, Uruguay, India, Australia, UK, Jamaica, etc. To see profiles of attendees go to Summit People.

The next two days were full of various sessions and panel discussions, and what is more exciting: notes were taken and published on-line, see Summit Schedule and click on links to wiki notes.

I was interested in Outreach Track and Education Track, so I attended Peer-to-peer learning, Service volunteerism in high school and college, Pen Pals in 2015, etc. On Saturday I was at Speed Geek, where I gave short presentations (5min each) about Vietnam OLPC to various summit members.

By Sunday Nick Doiron with help of others created interactive online map, and attendees were able to add themselves to the map again, this time not with red dots but with several mouse clicks. The purpose of the map is to connect volunteers and deployments to improve collaboration and team work, because as Adam H. said “we are each other’s infrastructure and social fabric”.

I liked the final moment of the summit, where group photo was taken of 100+ attendants (those who lasted to the end), and the same Adam closed the event by giving a long friendly speech : “Thank you all!”

On Sunday evening, many attended the BBQ party at the Kleider’s Camp in Bolinas, CA, where great time and fun was shared by all! Thank you, dear hosts, for being everything to us, volunteers, in terms of infrastructure and moral support! On another note, the summit ignited more talks and future plans on how OLPC volunteers can help the world and another map was created… See more photos by Mike Lee, Mark Battley/Marina Zd,  Mark Terranova and Bill Stelzer.


Why do people volunteer? October 20, 2010

Filed under: Volunteering — polyachka @ 10:21 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

We keep asking this question again and again: Why do people volunteer?

I decided to study the needs people have and tried to figure out which ones are satisfied when people volunteer.

I pulled  out Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which looks like a pyramid with the largest and lowest levels of needs at the bottom, and the need for self-actualization at the top.

“The lower four layers of the pyramid contain what Maslow called “deficiency needs” or “d-needs”: esteem , friendship and love, security, and physical needs. With the exception of the lowest (physiological) needs, if these “deficiency needs” are not met, the body gives no physical indication but the individual feels anxious and tense”.

Volunteering could help meet top four levels of needs, and there is something all four levels share – the need to be useful. Strangely enough, when we find a way to be useful, we find the meaning of life.

Beatrice suddenly turned her back on the painting, walked out into the courtyard again. The idea she wanted to add to her book was straight in her mind now.
“The worst thing that could possibly happen to anybody,” she said, “would be to not be used for anything by anybody.”
The thought relaxed her. She lay down on Rumfoord’s old contour chair, looked up at the appallingly beautiful rings of Saturn — at Rumfoord’s Rainbow.
 “Thank you for using me,” she said to Constant, “even though I didn’t want to be used by anybody.”
 “You’re welcome,” said Constant.

“The Sirens of Titan” Kurt Vonnegut


Strategic Volunteering Workshop October 19, 2010

It was one of those Mondays when you don’t want to get out of your bed, especially when you are not employed. I still made an effort and took the train to Downtown Crossing to attend Strategic Volunteering workshop at the Work Place.  I didn’t have any expectations, just signed up because I truly believe in volunteer work as to me  it means not giving something away but sharing and enriching ourselves and the world around us. I was curious to see what others have to say about strategic volunteering.

The instructor Mark McCurdy (see pic), also Founder and President of, delivered an interesting presentation to 10 participants. Main idea was to follow your heart, find what you love to do and focus on it… You would say that we all know this concept as it was mentioned in many philosophical schools, religions and books like The Alchemist and The Monk who sold his Ferrari, etc. True, but the twist is that you apply this concept to volunteering, meaning – not necessary leaving your current day-time job and switching to something else right away.

Volunteering is a way to connect you with your passion, which at the end may lead you to your perfect job you just don’t know how to find yet … As often we have one idea of what we want to do but in reality it may become  something different. As Tony Robbins said “Sometimes you need to lose your dreams to find your destiny”.

I also liked how Mark explained the process of finding what you love to do and implementing it, that is how to connect several elements which are  

Passion+Purpose+Strategic Volunteering +Focus

Very often we only focus on passion or purpose but never connect both, never mind applying them to reality by doing volunteer work or seriously focusing on it. So here is what I got out of this workshop:

What is your passion/favorite hobby/interest or what are you good at? I like to ask questions and connect to people through conversation/story, also I’m interested in volunteering.

What community/population do you like to serve? To help unhappy lost people.  Because I was depressed myself in the past, I want to help unhappy people.

How do you think you combine the two into strategic volunteering?  Besides doing this blog and telling about volunteering, I may want to reach out to whole communities of depressed people and write newsletters for them about ways to get involved in volunteer work,  create workshops and events for them.

Focus on what you defined – narrow your goal and be consistent… I spoke to Mark that instead of general population I should focus on non-profits and groups that support communities of depressed people/victims of depression. Mark mentioned that “Collaboration is King” (not cash anymore). He also suggested doing video/audio interviews of volunteers/non-profits for, which is almost like TV show about volunteering world. All I have to do is to focus on these ideas and act upon them – be proactive and reach out to those organizations/communities and create samples of my work.

Imagine you were at the same workshop, what would you come up with? How many people do you know who decided to blog or do something they are very passionate about even though it was not their profession and they became very successful by eventually pursuing it?


The Social Cure via Volunteering October 18, 2010

So I missed the annual Boston Book Festival  this past Saturday on Oct 16, even though last year’s BBF is the reason this blog exists.  To satisfy my curiosity about what I missed I looked at the pics taken by Mike Lee  and Dinmohamed Abdimomunov and read about the event on-line. It looks like there were great speakers, workshops and OLPC had a nice booth with great volunteers showcasing the XOs. The event was a success just like last year and I wish I could have attended it. However, the same day I discovered something else I want to share with you. It is an article of Sept/Oct issue of,  called  “The Social Cure”. The main idea is:

1. Membership in a large number of groups was once thought to be detrimental because it complicated our lives and caused stress. 2. Now, however, research shows that being part of social networks enhances our resilience, enabling us to cope more effectively with difficult life changes such as death of a loved one, job loss or a move. 3. Not only do our group memberships help us mentally, they also are associated with increased physical well-being.

We weather life transitions better if we have multiple social identities. For example, if people lose their job they are also likely to lose a network of colleagues that over the years has been important to them. This will tend to compromise their well-being. Yet they may still belong to the local tennis club or be a volunteer at the local church, and maintaining these identities will probably help them through the transition.

Group life and a sense of social identity have profound influence on our general health and well-being. This finding reflects something fundamental about human nature: we are social animals who live (and have evolved to live) in groups. For humans, membership in groups is an indispensable part of who we are and what we need to be to lead rich and fulfilling lives. Practically it means that groups can offer a social cure. Participation in group life can be like an inoculation against threats to mental and physical health.

One of the ways to become a member of various groups is to volunteer and try different activities (find them through friends, meetup, etc.) Not only that you will meet similar-minded people who share your values but you will build your resilience to stress plus help others, build new skills and (very possibly) a career in something new.


Boston Volunteer Project (Part Two) October 14, 2010

Who else likes to help others?” It is a meet-up group that was launched by Josh Konoff on Dec 26, 2008, and today they have up to 20 events scheduled per month.

“I initiated this Meetup group to give us another opportunity to help others. We will build houses, race against cancer, and micro-loan to Tuti in Indonesia so that she can start her first business. We will share ideas and discover innovative ways to help others. You will meet new people who share your values”.

Wednesday Volunteer Night, as Raymond said, is a “perpetual volunteer night!” Get your hands dirty with a wrench, flattening bikes to prepare them for international shipment, stripping bikes for parts, or sorting used parts. Or, help our office staff with database updates or mailings. Anyone is welcome to drop in to the Bikes Not Bombs Hub between 7pm and 10pm, on every Wednesday night (barring special events and holidays). A supervisor will show you what to do, and no experience is required. You can also earn points to get parts or refurbished bikes, so don’t forget to fill out a time sheet. Other events: Peddling the Charles River to remove water chestnuts! The Harvest food pantry – hand out donated food and clothers! Become a member by signing up at or check it out on FB.

For those who are interested in doing volunteer work for free and open source software, visit, which was started by Asheesh Laroia and Co:

And last but not the least – our own OLPC volunteer recruiter Adam Holt over in Somerville – capital of grassroots underground movement of the world!

“You can become a part of the One Laptop per Child community. OLPC has volunteer groups in North America, South America, Africa, Asia and the South Pacific. There are also regional volunteering groups in many American states and cities that you can get involved with locally”.

You can contribute as a translator,  provide software/hardware support, develop software or organize a local event. Just send a note to Adam at or go to


Nicaragua Volunteer Work October 8, 2010

Economically ruined by a civil war, which went on for several decades, Nicaragua is presently one of the poorest countries of Latin America.

Because of limited employment opportunities and inadequate infrastructure such as roads, water, and electricity, the incomes and productivity of poor rural people remain at low levels. Poverty is largely a rural problem in Nicaragua, although there are pockets of poverty in the capital of Managua and in other urban areas. You will have an opportunity to do education work in the villages near Granada. You can also try yourself as a hiking guide for an organization whose profits go to charity.

Teaching English

You will need at least basic knowledge of Spanish to teach English to grades 3-6.   Minimum commitment is one month if your knowledge of Spanish is advanced or you have teaching experience, or two months if your knowledge of Spanish is basic.

Primary School Tutor

As a tutor, you will help teach reading, writing, and arithmetic to grades 1-2. Minimum commitment is one month if your knowledge of Spanish is advanced or you have teaching experience, or two months if your knowledge of Spanish is basic.

Kindergarten Assistant

You will help teach pre-school children. You will also be able to help with arts and crafts or provide sports instruction. No teaching experience is necessary, just an honest desire to help out in this impoverished country.  A two-month commitment is usually required, but you can volunteer just one month if you have exceptional Spanish language skills.

For above mentioned roles to volunteer please write to or go to

Hiking guide

Located in Leon, this opportunity is very unique because you will serve an organization whose profits go directly to educational projects for street kids and orphans. You will have an opportunity to visit those projects as well. You main responsibility will be to take tourists on a hike and make meals for them. You will have to be in good physical health, have basic knowledge of Spanish, and first aid. One month is minimum, but two months are preferred, as you will have to go on several hikes as part of your training before leading a hike yourself. To volunteer as a hiking guide please write to Conor at or go to


Albania Volunteer Project October 3, 2010


Albania is arguably the most unique country in Europe.  Foreigners are beginning to discover the amazingly hospitable people and their unique culture and landscape.

The Albanian economy has improved in recent years, but there are still people who continue to live in extreme poverty (less than one U.S. dollar per day), and there are significant disparities between urban and rural areas.

The Ministry of Education focuses on city schools, leaving the village schools without adequate facilities, qualified teachers, books and equipment. Satellite TV and more recently cell phone service has reached the villages, giving them more access to the world. The roads have been improved giving them daily access by bus to the cities in the lowlands, although cost prohibits most from traveling often.  Unemployment is widespread. Students are eager to learn.  They dream of a better life with a better education.  Most would like to continue on to high school, and perhaps university.

Teaching English

The projects are located in several northern Albanian villages, which are the most traditional in the country. Arranged marriages are still very common.  Patriarchy is very strong, and it still is not unusual to find two or three generations sharing the same home. You will teach children English as they are all eager to learn conversational English to use for future jobs or continuing education. No professional experience necessary.

Teaching Art/Music

You will be able to run your own program as long as you have the curriculum and material ready for it. It could be drawing, arts/crafts etc., which could be very beneficial to the children as they can make art to sell and make money on their creations.  This could include paintings, frames, jewelry, decorative ornaments, or crafts specific to their culture, family, or country.  This is also an opportunity to help students gain skills. Check out the website of, to volunteer please contact Steve Cook or Terri Cook.


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