After a successful trip to Yaounde – where I got a visa, a meeting with the US embassy, AND all the cheese I could carry back with me I returned to class on Monday.  We’re supposed to be six days into the schedule and it seem like we’re more like four days into the schedule.


Lycee is the best-equipped school to facilitate our program and yet – by Western standards it’s lacking a lot of what we need.   There are 20 computers in the lab where we work – but only four that actually connect to the Internet well enough to work.  That means each of my 22 students has to share computers in groups.  Imagine trying to sign up five kids for Facebook on one computer – one at a time.  Imagine spending most a a class watching someone else play with a computer patiently waiting your turn to log in.  It’s frustrating for me – and I imagine it would be for the kids.


Yet, for the most part, the kids don’t seem to be disappointed.  Most seem content to sit a watch and patiently wait their turn to log on.  They are just excited to be there and to be working.  There are a few who hop from computer to computer hoping to see something new and interesting on a different screen but I am absolutely humbled by their patience.


I’m also humbled by the importance of our mission here.  I understood that kids here had very little access to technology – but I had no idea what that meant until I started to work with them directly.  My most advance students know where to type a URL – most look at the screen and have no idea where to put their curser.  All of the students have trouble navigating basic menus and trouble shooting. 


YAN brings students in with the promise of film-making and Facebook.  The practical skills are like medicine carefully hidden in sugar.  There is no question in my mind that these students will need basic computer skills in the future.  I worry that this short course is barely meeting the need.  Today we’ll hopefully get everyone logged onto Facebook and if we’re lucky some will have a chance to play around on it.  Hopefully this initial contact will be a catalyst to encourage them to explore all that the Internet has to offer in terms of research and learning.  Just playing around is one of the best teaching tools out there – if they only had the time and resources to get some real quality time in to play around.


It’s frustrating.  For now I am content that most now know how to send an email and that they are very excited about this fact.  I am also worried about the up-coming work with video editing programs.  This can be complicated stuff.  I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.  I guess a little exposure is better than none – I just wish I had ideas to overcome these obstacles.