When I first arrived in Cameroon, I came with no expectations. It’s better this way, when you are doing research, or development work, because when you create expectations, you’re bound to be disappointed. Of course you should have goals, but those can be achieved in a variety of ways, so you don’t box yourself in.
When I first arrived at Tassah Academy, I was immediately expected to present myself, my reason for being there, and what I hoped to do. I almost felt like a salesperson, selling an idea. In fact, every time I have to approach ISSP in a different way (for more information, visit my work blog: http://internationalschooltoschoolpartnerships.org/category/laura/ ) Every presentation was completely different – some were easy sells – a “yes, you have me already, sign me up!” those were the local ngos, or the younger, up to date teachers, who were excited to have more internet access and technology.
Others were a little harder though. The first round of teachers, as they stared at the screen (you know that 4 PM glaze teachers, when you’ve just finished a day of teaching). As they watched my powerpoint, some stares were just stares. Others were more concerned: “I don’t get it, we already have a computer, why do we need tablets?” or “How are we going to use this in our classroom?” The parents were the same: “Why?” Well, normally I would say this is a perfect example of a program NOT to implement, because the community doesn’t see value in it, right? Wrong.
Then came the parents who all signed up to learn more, or the father who showed up in the office, sat down, and said, “I would like to buy one of those tablets.” Ok, or the teachers that showed up at the house at 8 PM to skype with teachers from California, and talked with us until 10:30, discussing how to move forward. Or the students who eagerly signed up for the classes offered their first week of summer break. Sure, there are many challenges, but we have faith that this is worth it. The next generation is a new generation of technology users, and the more advantages we give them, the better prepared they will be for the work force.
So excited to see what happens next.