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olpcMAP June Update June 21, 2011

olpcMAP is on vacation, because Nick is in Los Angeles, Adam in Haiti and I’m still here but working full-time on The Ultimate Answer project.

From Nick:

“I am getting settled in now in California -over the weekend I finally got a room and found places near the house for food and shopping.  Sunday I went to the library to see about volunteering with technology there.

It is different to work here because the team I’m on-doesn’t get assignments; we do independent research. That includes interns. The main team is awful busy because a conference is coming up in San Diego(11-15 July). The other intern is doing his phd in mapping at USC and some open source work. We got a couple more interns this week, so the department finally had a meeting so we could see everyone and what they’re working on. Lots of crazy ideas. I shared a couple of projects, my boss asked some questions, and this afternoon I got to meet the main Esri guy in that field, for some help with that particular idea.

One of these weekends I’ll have to try going to Los Angeles to see the national parks and the major attractions. Sometimes I see cool projects like and wonder if I could visit their shows. Another project might send me to Oklahoma to meet Cherokee Indians. That would be awesome.”

From Adam:

“I’m just getting rolling for many more trips to Haiti the coming year, this 1st trip now will be about scouting out different OLPC/OBPC (One Bike Per Child!) possibilities and reconnecting with many great education NGOs I’ve met over the past 17 months since the earthquake.  I’ll be assisting Tim Falconer (Waveplace Foundation) on new content plans, and John Engle ( on many exciting developments around the 1500 kids at his 6+ growing “participatory leadership” schools.  Among many other educators I seek to connect, towards transforming Haiti’s schools in coming years / generations — thanks to the global Haitian community in Miami, NYC,Boston and Montreal especially.

I’m also working out very preliminary Haiti volunteer hub plans, for the many strong volunteers who’ve requested to join me in Haiti over the coming year, which should work out given great community accommodations I’ve uncovered — if you invest+demonstrate your worth, and understand Haiti’s risks.  A work trip as early as August might even make sense, if you can stand the heat — or later, after hurricane season, much more comfortable.  Flights are less than $400 from NYC or Miami.  Contact me privately for details in coming weeks/months, thanks so much!

During June 17 to July 4 I’ll need extra help from all volunteers backstopping OLPC/Sugar’s global community support (monitoring, answering emails, using sound+proactive judgment when I/others are offline for 72hrs, etc).

Thanks all for your priceless contributions, checking in on this mailing list, on live chat at — and blogging at now emerging as a powerhouse community voice. * Di Ou Mèsi Tout * Merci a Tous * Gracias Todos * ”

From me :

I’m working on The Ultimate Answer project which is essentially about the interactive formula for happiness and meaningful life. I’m in the process of testing the first version of the tool in Excel and will be organizing 3 live group testing sessions: Boston, June 22, Los Angeles, July 6, and Cambridge, MA, Aug 10. The website is in progress, and the blog is one month old. Interestingly enough, my parents were the first testers of the idea, and my mother who is not technology savvy didn’t reject it immediately, which gives me hope.

I plan to meet with Nick in Los Angeles and go hiking, while I’m California till July 10, which will be International Happiness day. Check out their ambassador’s map

Happy Summer Solstice! 🙂


Results of the Happiness Survey June 3, 2011

Back in March I crafted a survey to help understand what makes people happy and if technology can help us become happier. Volunteers completed the survey anonymously either online or on paper. There were two groups of respondents: a) middle class, age range of 20-40 y.o., who use technology for social purpose, not particularly religious, mainly employed, b) middle to upper class retired people, i.e. 50 y.o. and above, who are not too fond of technology vs. face-to-face meetings for social purpose, mainly non-religious, but with high priorities on ethics and humanism (representatives from Boston Ethical Society). Thank you to all participants!

The Happiness survey is phase One of The Ultimate Answer project, which is about:

  • ›What makes people happy?
  • ›How open are people to share their ideas about happiness and help each other?
  • ›Are there any “common denominators” of happiness?
  • ›Is it possible to measure happiness and how?
  • ›How can happiness be increased in the world?
  • ›Can technology leverage human potential to increase happiness and how?
  • ›What is the meaning of life and how to find it?

82 people answered the survey: 15 from Boston Ethical Society(BES) and 67 from non-BES.

Here are some highlights:

  • 99% knows what happiness is, but only 72% knows what the meaning of life is. Those 28% who have no clue really need to catch up on Monty Python…
  • People are more likely to give a piece of advice than to receive it.
  • 9 out of 10 said that happiness is not permanent, it changes over time.
  • Answers from BES (more ethical and older) group were different from non-BES respondents.
  • Meaning of life is different from personal happiness.

Please, feel free to check out the results of the survey for yourself Happiness Survey Results

Re-posted from Results of the Happiness Survey.


More Girl’s stories June 1, 2011

Filed under: Volunteering — polyachka @ 8:00 am
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

There are twenty four girls in Mai Am Shelter right now. Here are more stories:

Vo Thi Thuy (1992) came from Thua Thien Hue.  Her father abandoned her when she was little and her mother was disabled and sold lottery tickets in a wheel chair.

Thuy has just finished her final year 12 with average grade.  She is about to start studying economics at a technical college in Go Vap for four years.

Nguyen Thi Kim Hau (2002) likes to sing and draw.

Hau has no father and her mother died of Aids.  She was found under a bridge over a canal in district 1.

After her first year in the Home Hau finished Class 1 passing with excellent and in June 2010 she graduated from Class 2 also with excellent.  She enjoys maths.

Nguyen Thi Tien (1992) is Ha’s big sister.  She comes from Quang Binh. Her father was an alcoholic who couldn’t work and regularly beat them, so her mother and the children escaped and came to Saigon to find work as servants, but had nowhere to live.   Tien has just finished Class 12 with average grade.  She is studying accounting.

Nguyen Thi Kim Loan (1992) has no father and her mother sells lottery tickets.  She likes to listen to music and watch tv. 

Loan has been in the Home since soon after it began 13 years ago.  She finished Class 11 in 2009 with average grade and graduated from Class 12, the last year of school, in 2010 with above average. Now she wants to be a nurse and will go to nursing school for 2 years in district 4 (4 million dong fee).  She has Christian principles and is committed to wanting to help sick people get better.  She will make a wonderful nurse.

Nguyen Thi Thu Ha (1998) is 12 and finished Class 4 with excellent grade in 2009 and Class 5 also with excellent in 2010.  Ha was abandoned by her father, her mother works  as a cleaner in a restaurant.  Her sister is handicapped.   She likes to play the piano and sing and enjoys maths.

Tran Thi Ngoc Oanh, nickname Tien, is now 10.   (On arrival she was said to have been born in 2000.)  She has no father and was abandoned by her mother.  Her grandmother was too poor to take care of her.  She likes to draw.  She’s a real character, always laughing and mischievous.  She wants to be a kindergarten teacher.

Tien  finished Class 2 with above average grade in 2009 and Class 3 also with above average in 2010.  She enjoys maths.

 Nguyen Thi Bang Phuong (2002) was abandoned by her father who is a Swede, and her mother was very poor.  She came to the Home in February 2008. She finished Class 1 with above average grade in 2009 and passed Class 2 with excellent this year.
For those, who don’t know much about this shelter read my earlier posts (Jan-Apr 2010). All girls sleep in one room on bunk beds, they cook and clean themselves. They wear donated clothers. They go to school and support each other. If any of you want to be pen pals with the girls (must be in Vietnamese), they would appreciate it. It is hard to replace a real family but kind words will help them to grow in life and become mature individuals.

If you are interested in learning more about the shelter and want to help the girls have education, food and clothing, feel free to contact Celia at or just leave your comment to this blog post and we will contact you.


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