It's a Samoan pub.

October 9, 2006: The beginning of my adventure in the Peace Corps. I've been invited to serve as an Information and Communication Techonology volunteer to teach computer skills in Samoa. Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog are mine and do not in any way reflect the views of the Peace Corps, the US government, or the country of Samoa.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

New Computer Lab

Before coming to Palalaua College I was told that the school had a brand new computer lab. I was a bit excited, to say the least, that my job would be so much easier. That was until I actually saw the lab, which was brand new… in 2005. There were six broken computers in the school library.

Well, given few other options, I did everything in my power to figure out how to fix them (using the Internet, calling other computer volunteers, reading books on hardware, even cajoling my friend Aaron into coming over to look at them). For a while all six worked and life was good. But slowly, over the course of the year they began to die one by one. Some of them could be revived for a time but by the end of the year there were only two working. This can be a problem for a class of about thirty students. Somehow, though, we made it through and people actually passed their national exam.

Now, in the beginning of last year once I was aware that there were only six computers, I arranged a meeting with two volunteers: Amos and Sone. They were working on a project to bring computers to primary schools all over the country. The project would donate the computers for free. I was unsure whether I would be able to get any but it was worth a shot. There was also the issue of donation. Schools in Samoa have gIn the beginning of August I got a call from Amos explaining that my ten computers were arriving in a month and that I needed to arrange a pick up.

Not having heard from the guys about the project in months, I hadn’t really expected the call. I had spent the previous eight months trying to get my school to raise money computers to no avail. Not that they weren’t motivated. They installed an air conditioning unit in the library and gave me 750 tala to repair our existing computers (which did work for a bit as a result). When I presented the computers to the school they immediately sprung into action. One of the older rooms was completely overhauled. The holes in the walls were fixed, desks and tables were built by the shop class, it was repainted, and then fitted with electrical outlets and an air conditioning unit. At graduation, the finished lab was presented to the pastors and matai of the village and I was given my very own set of keys (major moment).

Note on Sustainable Development: Most of Samoa has gotten used to living off of remittances from overseas. Family members who work overseas are always sending home money and various ‘necessities’ (cars, stereos, tvs, phones…). There are also the aid agencies and donations from the US, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan (the Japanese are constantly giving heaps of things to Samoa like schools and vehicles but don’t even get me started on that). The problem with relying on outside help is that people aren’t often motivated to raise money to buy things. Why buy anything if you can get it for free eventually by just waiting around for it? I want to leave knowing that the school is invested in their computers and won’t just let the program fall to the wayside. Even though they didn’t buy them themselves they put enough time and energy into the lab to make me feel that I’ve done something that has the potential to be sustainable.


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