From field assistant to a programmer

Transition must have been boring!!

Most of you must be guessing the above statement by the title of my blog. But, I am here to surprise you all.

As a passionate explorer, I am hooked with the anxiety and the butterfly effect I get when setting out for a journey. The feeling of a vicious circle of my daily routine slowly breaking while escaping into the unknown; it feeds my desire to learn and gets me going.

The field visits of OLE Nepal are an adventure on its own. Our project schools are located in diverse locations without any sign of basic infrastructures. Most of the time we had to walk long hours to reach our destination. The walks are comparatively easy then the next task; talking to people and making them aware and co-operative. There were times I slept above a barn and ate what was served. But after seeing the happiness reflected from the innocent eyes of the children who are fascinated with our E-Paath and E-Pustakalaya, it feels rewarding. And, on top of that, the work we conduct during field visits are truly satisfying for one’s soul. It encourages us to do more for them.

Then comes the transition…… It has been 3 months since my last field visit. After shifting from a technical room to developers room, I have been deprived of all the adventures. However, I am focused as the quote says,

“The secret to change is to focus all of your energy ,
not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”
– Socrates.

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working seriously 😉

I managed to find my own adventure in coding. While it is fun to go places and get our digital educational programs implemented, it is exciting, both as a learner and as a student studying Information Management, to be able to develop these interactive activities. I can not express my gratitude in words towards our development team who dealt with my constant curiousness and guided me throughout this transition process.

I am currently working on grade 7 math activities and so far have managed to develop two activities with the help of my mentors. I feel deep sense of satisfaction developing them as students of different schools in diverse parts of Nepal will be able to learn math with the help of these activities. I feel such because this particular subject has never been my cup of tea.

All in all, it will soon be a year since I joined OLE Nepal team as an intern. And coming back to discussing my transitions, I have had many in this one year. I gained a clearer perspective, learned interpersonal and technical skills, understood the outlook on education and ICT and much more.

It is all because of these transitions, I have evolved as a better person.

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Developer’s team

Balancing the act of duty and wanderlust

It was 5 a.m. and the sound of an alarm clock woke me up. I got up, got ready, grabbed my bags, and headed to the OLE Nepal office where my colleague Deepa was waiting for me. For a head start, we had packed all the necessary equipments, laptops, stationeries and other documents properly a day before and I couldn’t help but feel content that all the things were moving as per the plan. We both were feeling robust as we picked up those heavy bags and loaded them on and off from the taxi and throughout our travel. We knew domestic flights are always late. While waiting at the lobby of the airport, listening to the music  and flight announcements both at the same time, I was trying to make a visual image of the school and the people whom I will be interacting with for the next five days. We were going for XO laptop deployment in the Arun Jyoti Primary School in kaski, Pokhara.

The librarian of the school Miss Hari Maya Neupane was waiting for us outside the airport. We engaged in a quick introduction and headed to the school. On our way, miss Hari gave us insight about the school and the library Ria’s Reading Room, which was established on a foreign aid by Wanda in the memory of her mother.

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Arun Jyoti School, Begnas, Sundari dadha, Kaski.

I was startled by the beauty of Pokhara as we reached Sundari dadha (hill) where the school was located. We could see both the Begnas lake and Rupa lake in each side, resting calmly in between those magnificent hills. We quickly unloaded all the XO laptops and all the other equipments in the library and headed out for lunch.

View of Rupa(left) and Begnas(right) lakes from the school.

Our official interaction started with an introduction with the teachers and about XO laptops. As Deepa was conducting the session. I quickly unboxed the offline server and my tool box to set up a network. I placed the server, switch and router in a safe place, connected with RJ45 cables. All thanks to the trainings I received in the office, setting up a network was like piece of a cake. During my introduction, I used simple vocabularies to explain our technical system. I was glad to sense some enthusiasm among teachers who were listening actively.

As we learned about the absence of proper security in the school, we could not help but carry all the laptops to and fro from the librarian’s house we were living in. Despite this hassle, we were glad to see the natural beauty of Sundari dadha. Luckily, we had a room that faced the Rara lake.

Teachers exploring XO laptops during the training

With the feel of fresh air just outside of our window, we planned our day each morning, followed by proper examination of the laptops. We were juggling our times to meet the requirements of the plan in between the power cuts and ongoing internal exams in the school. However, these early morning preparations helped us to maintain our cool in between the training hours. We basically focused on E-paath activities during power cuts and helped them understand the concept of E-pustakalaya and its use during the power available times. As a refresher to the hectic trainings, we made teachers sing their favourite local songs which they sang very happily. You can listen to them singing here.

Deepa Thapa helping the students explore XO laptops

Another round of training was provided on the basic knowledge of operating, safekeeping and troubleshooting the XO laptops. I explained about the school server, intranet and the network in the simplest language possible. The teachers were also made to do overall process of connecting the server to its power, linking switch with the server and then to the router. This process made them more comfortable with the device and helped them understand the networking better. Following the training on the integrated teaching techniques, we also organized a micro teaching sessions of 15 minutes, where teachers used both the course books and XO laptops while demonstrating the techniques. We trained two students on using the E-Paath activities and asked them for feedback. You can watch their video here.

These five days went with the blink of an eye. The last day of the program was basically reserved for Q&A session where the teachers shared their concerns about the XO laptops. It was reassuring to see teachers fully familiar with the XO laptops. The students and teachers all gathered up to explore the green boxes full of knowledge.

Miss Hari was one of the most enthusiastic learners among the teachers. She also had an advantage of learning a bit more than the other teachers while we stayed in her home. She also took us on walks around the Rupa and Begnas lakes. We also went boating in the Begnas Lake after the training period. Hypnotized by the sun set and the overall beauty of the surrounding, it was hard for us to think of returning back. They say travelling is to go to unfamiliar places among the unfamiliar faces and to leave a part of you there among the unknown. And for us we had established a connection, not the connection of the server and the routers but a connection of hearts with the place and the people.

Farewell by Arun Jyoti School teachers

Being a computer student, all I had to do was to understand and communicate with the electronic devices and computers. After joining OLE Nepal and assisting in many field visits, my timidity has taken over by immense self-esteem and confidence in myself. I wouldn’t say that I have completely changed but the internship has definitely upgraded my skills. I have been fortunate to learn so much from this internship and about the importance of teamwork. And, not to forget about my public speaking, which has certainly improved. Now while looking back, I just cannot wait to headway with another exciting field visit.

 And that’s me with the students of Arun Jyoti School

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