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One Laptop Per Child Update July 5, 2013

Filed under: Volunteering — polyachka @ 5:43 pm
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Pay It Forward Giving WallPay It Forward (PIF) for Business event took place on Monday, July 1 at 3110 Lounge Main Street in Santa Monica. It was organized by Your Office Agent. PIF is about bringing the best companies in Santa Monica to give free advice and help grow small and medium sized businesses. It was the 4th PIF since Dec 2012, and it was Free of Charge. The focus has been from entrepreneurs to tech. Every PIF has a giving wall, where people post their offerings to the community or just tell about their products and services. It was a vibrant networking environment. Thank you to all 450 people for paying it forward!

My group Santa Monica New Tech (SMNT) was invited to this event. We are a community group of 1800+ members who meet to demo cool technology from local startups, give feedback and network.  SMNT had a table where we displayed several examples of technology and its timeline:  laptops from 5 years ago, 3 years ago and 1 year ag0. We invited everyone interested in new technology to our events. Our offer was one free ticket to our demo/feedback event on July 24 for those who stopped by our table at PIF4! We also told about volunteer opportunities in tech, see below.

Update:July 1 PIF SMNT

Four generation OS laptops have been manufactured since 2007 and distributed to children in schools around the world. Check out the map olpcmap.net with all OLPC projects, volunteers and XOs.

There are only 4 XO machines are available for now:

XO-1, XO-1.5, XO-1.75 and the new XO-4 Touch laptop.

XO-3s were built, they are basically a Sugar tablet (no keyboard), but not sold.

The XO-4 (touchscreen and keyboard) seems to be more popular.

XO-4 Touch has a few customers, including unleashkids.org.

“Unleash Kids” being the brand new all-volunteer campaign Mike Lee, Christoph Derndorfer, Bill Stelzer, Adam Holt and many others just began to create video documentary live interviews every 2 weeks, so the story of a new country’s OLPC-like work gets out there far more intimately! Unleash Kids, an all-volunteer non-profit group, will also be selling individual XO-4 Community Kits to people like Peace Corps / Makers later this summer, while directly supporting some very cool Haiti deployments.

Learn more on FB  http://facebOLPCMap Picook.com/unleashkids

Watch bi-weekly interviews of different OLPC countries http://youtube.com/unleashkids

OLPC’s Miami office will also be selling an Android tablet at Walmart under the name “XO Learning Tablet” as some point soon we’re told.  http://olpcnews.com

OLPC grassroots is seeking tech volunteers to work on technology for education! Tech volunteers are needed to help testing the new http://schoolserver.org which is getting a lot of traction, and amazingly so after volunteers took OLPC’s bitrotted XS 0.7 and turned it into a real community product with growing users on every continent (XS Community Edition!)

To learn more about OLPC and Sugar global community, please read http://planet.laptop.org and http://olpcMAP.net.

 

Ba Chieu Home Update (Part Three) September 11, 2012

Filed under: Volunteering — polyachka @ 4:52 pm
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This is the last part of Celia’s Caughey newsletter about Ba Chieu Shelter:

“Vinacapital in HCMC has also been assisting the Home (thanks to kiwi Brook Taylor) by having some of its staff work as volunteers in computer training for the girls.

Lorraine’s visit

During the July school holidays another link with New Zealand was strengthened when Lorraine Andrewes from the St Andrews Early Childhood Centre in Epsom, Auckland, came to Ho Chi Minh City (at her own cost) and stayed for 2 weeks in the Home.  Lorraine is a trained kindergarten teacher who was able to spend time teaching the girls art in their holidays as well as doing some great face painting and developing closer bonds with the girls, many of whom are in need of motherly contact.  Lorraine has also organized a fundraising event at the kindergarten for the Home.

New Website

One of the kiwis in HCM City who has helped with selling books for the Home is Julia Parker. Now back in New Zealand in her new role as Futureintech Facilitator Julia has arranged for Naomi Shingler at St Dominic’s College to create a new website for the Home.  This is long overdue, so we await her work with keen interest.

Fundraising in Bonn

More kiwi connections are emerging in other corners of the world.  I was contacted by a former teacher at NZ’s ACG School in HCMC who is now teaching in Germany at the Bonn International School.  She is keen for her students to be able to support the Ba Chieu Home through their Community and Service project, so has sent their donation through to WOCA.

ACG and swimming

The New Zealand Associated Colleges Group HCMC campus has generously allowed the girls to use their swimming pool on Sundays to learn to swim for the past few years.  This continues the New Zealand link with  the Home, and several kiwis have also volunteered to give up their Sunday morning to supervise the swimming sessions.  Many thanks to Ian King and his Vietnam staff for this very kind gesture; it is much appreciated.

New Zealand Chamber of Commerce – NZ Wine and Food Festival

This year once again the New Zealand Chamber of Commerce organized the New Zealand Wine and Food Festival, the hottest event in town, which began in 2000 (when I was Trade Commissioner).  Thanks to good organization, a superb event and generous sponsorship, the Chamber was able this year to make a significant donation to the Home, which could pay for maintenance on the house and provided new lockers for the girls, as well as contributing to operating costs.

Meeting Tram

In a newsletter last year I included a photo of one of our earliest girls, Tram, who spent many years at the Home, as a beautiful bride.  On my recent trip to Vietnam I passed through Danang where Tram now lives and was able to meet up with her and her beautiful new baby boy.   When she left the Home with a good education Tram was able to get a good job in the jewellery department of a large department store in the centre of the City, and it was there that she met her husband to be.  It is lovely to see her now happily married and starting a family of her own.

It is always heartwarming for me to go back and see the Home running well and the girls thriving and happy, thanks to the generosity of you all –  friends of the Home, donors and those who have bought the books and game which were produced to support the Home.

Many thanks for your continued interest and support.

Celia M Caughey

Fundraising Coordinator, Ba Chieu Home, Ho Chi Minh City

Tel 6305292   021 1402 190, Email: celia@primenz.com

Buy an ethical gift this Christmas and support the Ba Chieu Home

http://seriouslyboard.co.nz/kiwiana/vote-for-vietnam-and-for-charity/”

 

Ba Chieu Home Update (Part Two) August 31, 2012

Filed under: Volunteering — polyachka @ 4:25 pm
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From Celia Caughey newsletter August 2012:

New girls

“The new girls are mostly 12 or 13, with one, Tuyen, only 7.  Tuyen is tiny but a bundle of energy.  She has always lived with her grandmother who was moving around too much for Tuyen to go to school.  She loves to sing and is looking forward to being able to start school in September.  Lua (12) had a complicated family set-up and dropped out of school after Year 1 when her mother left, then worked looking after younger children and as a waitress in beer halls.  Now in the Home she will be able to resume her schooling in Year 2.   Dang (12) has been sleeping  at night in the park on stone benches with her father and by day selling various wares in the backpackers’ area, so will now be able to start school in Year 1.  Linh (12) has lived with foster parents who are tenant farmers but live too far away from a school for her to attend, so they brought her to the Home so that she could go to school.  Kieu (12) was abandoned by her parents when they both divorced and remarried, then lived with her grandmother who sold lottery tickets on the streets.  When she got too old to look after Kieu she brought her to the Home.  Trinh (13) and Vy (13) have both come to the Home so that they can continue schooling  which their families couldn’t provide, while Tram (13) has come as her father died and mother has a terminal illness with not long to live.  That gives you a picture of who our girls are and why they come into the Home.

Partnership with Fonterra

While I was in Ho Chi Minh City I was pleased to be able to formalize a partnership with the HCMC based office of Fonterra.  As part of their Corporate Social Responsibility programme they aim to focus on children and provide dairy nutrition.  They have chosen Ba Chieu Home as a key partner to seek to build a long term relationship with, given its link with New Zealand and with their principles.  The General Manager, Leon Clement,  said his staff “were also impressed with the Home’s management and the dedicated people that work there”.  This is all very good news!  I organized an afternoon meeting between Leon, a dozen of Fonterra’s management team and Mrs Thanh, Vice President of the Women’s Charity Association which administers the Home, at the Home with all the girls there.  Leon said in his speech he thought Fonterra shared the same values as the Home, in terms of nourishment, care and protection.    The partnership will involve Fonterra donating UHT milk for the girls to have a glass each every day, and its staff getting to know the girls to look for other ways to assist.  Staff raised funds which were used to give all the girls a new pair of shoes and new school uniforms to start the new academic year.  Leon also hosted the girls at his home at a party to celebrate the Lunar New Year.  (He commented that at the party the girls behaved remarkably well and showed great maturity in their contact with other guests, more so than many of the other children there.)   This is a very promising initiative which should provide great long term benefit to the Home.  I am happy to see New Zealand businesses working in Vietnam giving back by providing assistance to the Home”.

From my students only Hanh (picture in the bottom) is still at the shelter; she is an accounting student now.

 

Ba Chieu Home Update (Part One) July 31, 2012

Filed under: Volunteering — polyachka @ 4:17 pm
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I received an update from Celia Caughey about the Ba Chieu shelter in Ho Chi Minh:

“Dear friends and supporters of the Ba Chieu Home ,

I am happy to report to you following my visit to Vietnam last month.  I met with the girls several times and they were in good spirits and enjoying their summer holidays.

I attach a copy of this newsletter with photos if you would like to print it out, but have set the text out below.

I also have available an updated list of all the girls, with a photo of each and a brief background about them, so please let me know if you would like me to email that to you also.

Activities

Once again all the girls finished the academic year well and graduated up to the next class (in Vietnam they need to reach a certain level to be able to proceed to the next grade).  That is quite an achievement, and reflects well on the way Ms Yen is managing the Home and coaching the girls.  Hau (10) is continuing her interest in art and won 2nd prize in the district in the “Green Paint” competition.

The girls also spend time in the computer room, and many are now on facebook with a group set up for their friends and supporters.

The girls get up  at 5.30 each morning, do exercises, chores to clean the house, wash their own clothes (the older ones helping the younger), have breakfast and are out to school before 7am.  I recently heard of a survey of retired people as to what factor determined who had the most satisfaction in their lives:  the key thing was having been used to working in their homes as children.   So perhaps the girls from disadvantaged backgrounds in the Home will get more life satisfaction than our pampered western (and wealthy Vietnamese) children!

Girls leaving

There has been quite a bit of movement in the past year, with 8 girls moving out and 9 new girls.  Of the girls leaving, Tien, Nga and Thao have returned to live with their grandmothers;  Tien, Nguyen, Nga and Hong have left to go home and Loan has left to go to Nursing College.  Loan has always dreamt of becoming a nurse, with strong Christian principles and a commitment to wanting to help sick people get better.

She will make a wonderful nurse, and I was pleased we were able to provide some funding for her college fees to help her realize her dream.  I have always told the girls to dream their dreams and we would help them make it happen.  So it is very satisfying to see one of the girls who has been in the Home since soon after it began when she was 7 now coming through at 21 and able to train in the vocation to which she has aspired.

Two of the other older girls, Thuy and Tien, both aged 20, have now finished 2 years of study at a technical college in Go Vap specializing in economics and accounting, and both now have jobs, Thuy in a bank and Tien as an accountant, so they are able to support themselves and have left the Home”.

It’s been two years since I met the girls in Ho Chi Minh. 5 out of 6 girls I was teaching Sugar left the shelter. One day I’ll visit them again.

 

Immortal Hacker Challenge (Part One) December 24, 2011

I was going to write about The art of happiness in the troubled world book, but my computer caught a virus. Instead of getting mad at the hackers who wrote that virus I thought of a topic for my blog. First, let me tell you what I learned about Virtual Reality and the role of technology in psychology during the 119th APA Convention back in August. I attended at least 4 sessions about it.

Assessment of video game use. They were talking about Star Craft Game, and how it is popular to watch it in Korea. Spectators want to become players and win one day, even though their chances are pretty slim. We watched a video about thousands of spectators observing players of the game live in a big space which looked like a concert hall. People were rooting for their favorite players, eating and drinking. It looked crazy to me. Competitive video gaming is new to the US.

Is video gaming just for fun? The answer is no. For older adults games are used as therapeutic and learning tools. For example, insurance companies are developing video games to help reduce number of accidents per member. For children, some video games help improve pro-social skills, working memory, cognitive process speed. For people with disabilities, to learn and develop skills, example, read together and talk together. learningworksforkids.org, based in RI, suggests smarter playing curriculum. They use with children Say, Do, Review technique, so that children learn, practice and remember, they also take breaks between activities and do physical exercise. It’s called “play diet” that helps make video games digitally nutritious.

Video games are not intergenerational yet, but the goal is to help parents transfer their knowledge to children in interactive way.

Clinical use of video games – measures are still being developed, as there should be corrective index to adjust scores, not only self-report measures and interviews, etc. There is also a need for age appropriate measures, measures of stability, engagement, content (solitary, violent, competitive) and lists of side effects (unequal potential effects, consequences. etc).

Students spend too much time on games instead of studying. Impulse control is still hypothetical and can’t be observed or how it triggers behavioral addiction. Methodology is not efficient based on analogy. It is necessary to rate and analyze effects not only of new games but current games.

Virtual Reality (VR) is “a consciousness-noticing machine” and could be immersion(with goggles) and avatar-based. IBM plans to create avatars for every employee in 4 years, they will have new 3-D studio; it helps employees to better communicate. Avatar: “you are not a gadget”.

Examples of VR: flat public – Second life, flat secure – Inworld solutions, immersion public and immersion secure – Virtually Better.

Why VR is popular? It is an incarnation for some, virtual ability to be anything you want. So far there are ½ billion online game players. On average, 1 hour per game. Average age of the player is 10-15 y.o. In 2013 there will be 2 billion users. Online games help satisfy the need for human interaction. They also make changes in human behavior.

Re-posted from The Ultimate Answer

 

Positive Psychology Movement October 31, 2011

Filed under: Volunteering — polyachka @ 10:00 pm
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Positive psychology is new, but rapidly growing. The International Positive Psychology Association’s student division (SIPPA) and positive psychology masters programs are emerging (at least 15 around the world), and positive psych publications and books have increased in number. It is applied to:

– Education: teaching positive psychology and well-being in kindergarten through 12th grade, both directly in the curriculum, and indirectly throughout all curriculum;

– Positive humanities: : infusing the arts with PERMA (Positive Emotions, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishment);

-Positive journalism: journalism that uncovers what is hidden as well as praises what is worthy.

The Positive Turn: Why Positive Psychology and the Humanities Need Each Other

James Pawelski, Donald J. Moores, Lindsay Doran, Martin E.P. Seligman from University of Pennsylvania, Positive Psychology Center, Philadelphia, PA, United States

At the First World Congress on Positive Psychology in 2009, Martin Seligman issued a challenge to positive psychology. The challenge is to ensure that 51% of the world’s population is flourishing by the year 2051. If we take this challenge seriously, there is lots of work for everyone in positive psychology to do. There is the theoretical work of developing definitions and models of human flourishing, the empirical work of determining the best ways to help people achieve human flourishing, and the applied work of delivering positive interventions to individuals and communities. But positive psychology will not be able to meet this challenge alone. All of the social sciences will have to collaborate in the development of a mature science of well-being. Equally important will be the development of a culture of well-being.

Key here is the engagement of the humanities, the branch of learning that studies human culture. The humanities, which includes such disciplines as history, literature, law, philosophy, religious studies, art, and music, influences every aspect of our lives and comprises a large part of what is taught to children in K-12 schools and to adults in universities.

 

One hell of a dream September 12, 2011

Fall 2000-Spring 2001 I was in NYC, struggling to adjust to new culture and find ways to go to grad school. In the summer of 2001 I made a friend, who got killed two months later in a car accident. When I learned about her death, I was in California, on a spontaneous trip from San Fran to Los Angeles. Running out of money, I couldn’t continue my trip even further, so I remember getting to the Los Angeles Airport and buying a $100 ticket in cash to New York, where I still had some of my stuff. It was the 10th of September 2001.

What is really strange, I remember being on the plane and having the feeling of detachment and emptiness. I wasn’t afraid of anything happening on the flight, as I had nothing to lose, I thought. In a way I didn’t see any meaning in my life. I was just passing by.

When I arrived in New York, I went straight to my friend’s place, who lived in Brooklyn. In the morning of Sept 11, I was still sleeping when the land line phone rang. I didn’t want to pick it up but to continue sleeping. The answering machine was on and I heard my friend saying: “Marina, wake up, wake up, the war has started”. I immediately picked up the phone and still not completely awake tried to understand what she was saying. She told me about the first tower going down. And then I turned TV on and learned the whole story: the terrorist attack on America. My friend’s apartment was in the basement of a small house, the owners, an Orthodox Jewish family, lived upstairs. According to their religion they didn’t watch TV, but on that day, the couple came to watch TV too. We all wanted to know what will happen to the country, to us, to the whole world. We felt horror, grief, shock and fear. We felt compassion for all. As I stepped outside the house, in the middle of the day there were no sun, only grey clouds covering the sky and pieces of ash falling down on us. It did look like the end of the world.

I was scared and wanted to escape, to go back to Massachusetts, but couldn’t do it for several days as all public transportation was shut down between cities .When I finally made it back to the Vineyard, I met up with a friend of mine who knew Lena, the one who died in the car accident. That friend said that we should not worry about Lena, as she definitely went to heaven, not hell. Still horrified by the latest events, I was thinking too much about Lena, the victims of 9/11 and myself… How unfair their deaths are. Who decides who will die or who will live? Are we worth living?.. And right after our conversation I had a dream:

I’m in the office, there are people around me, who are working. I’m doing something as well, probably, work too. Suddenly, as if out of nowhere, a man dressed as a government official comes to me and says: “Your time is up, you have to go.” Taken by surprise I couldn’t help but ask in return: “Already? And who decided? Where, to hell?” He doesn’t answer, which I interpret as “not heaven”. I try again by asking: “Is it final?” He quietly says: “Yes”. All I could say is “I don’t agree, I demand to see a decision maker”. He, definitely surprised by this turn in our conversation, pauses but then gives me a sign to follow him. I enter some private office, the messenger man leaves and the door closes behind him. And in there I see another man, more established, in gray suit, sitting at the desk. He doesn’t speak, because he knows that I asked for this audience and I’m the one who will be speaking.

I don’t even remember how but I sat in a chair in front of the table and full of emotions I started my emotional speech.”Why do you think that it is my turn that came? Is it because I didn’t do any good deeds in this lifetime? Because I only wasted my time given to me? If I haven’t done anything so far, that doesn’t mean that I will not do anything in the future. You are supposed to give everyone a chance. There are circumstances and a person may experience difficulties, but that doesn’t mean that she is not capable of anything good. I know that I have a lot ahead of me. And may I ask what kind of right do you have to deprive me of my life, when my parents are alive? My mother told me that she will not be able to survive the death of her children. Did you think about consequences of your decision?  That by ending my life you will end the life of my mother?”

All that time the man in gray suit, who was the boss of that department or the chief of death, and on whose decision depended whether I’ll live or die, didn’t look at me even once. He was busy writing something in his notebook. I couldn’t see what he was doing exactly or what his was writing. Maybe he was taking notes about my life, or was studying my life case. I was scared as I thought he was calculating and weighing what I’ve done more in my life – good or bad. In every moment he could stop me and say “Enough, your case is closed, not sufficient evidence to let you live…”

And suddenly, I saw him put his notebook on the desk and I peeked in it. In front of me in this whole grayish setting I saw on the paper a big red heart that the man drew while I talked. And in that moment I realized that I’m allowed to live more but under condition that I create more good things in my lifetime. And I woke up.

Reposted from http://www.theultimateanswer.org/blog/2011/09/11/ten-years-ago-my-dream/

 

 
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