I have to admit, the garage full of monitors from Free Geek was a bit intimidating when we got home from vacation in late April. Monitors are always an interesting challenge to pack – the odd shapes, the unique ways that the stands must be removed for packing. Knives, pliers, screwdrivers, extra sets of hands – all are employed to get monitors into boxable form. And then there are always little pockets of empty space in the boxes that have to be filled with *something* for secure shipment.
We’ve had a nearly unprecedented three weeks away from our laptops, but now we’re home again and it’s time to get back to work. Coincident with our homecoming, the new long-term support version of Ubuntu was formally released yesterday. Neal has been eagerly awaiting 16.04, so it was great timing! He’ll have his work cut out for him for the summer. And today our shipping service, Manila Box, picked up six boxes bound for Cebu. Still lots of packing and shipping to do yet, but it’s nice to have so much already underway.
This week we made a quick trip up to Portland, Oregon to pick up a generous hardware grant from Free Geek (www.freegeek.org). Blog readers may remember our last trip, and this trip was equally inspiring and productive! We came back with 10 desktops, 15 keyboards, 30 mice, and as many monitors as we could cram into our rental truck – over 80! We are so thrilled that we will be able to give these monitors new life in public high schools in the Philippines where we are constantly battling attrition of the CRTs they received back in the early 2000’s. In addition flat panel monitors consume so much less power and take up a lot less space, so it is a big advantage for the schools to replace the CRTs.
Exciting news! The Reneal IEO Board of Directors has approved the new Cebu project plan! We will be installing the Reneal system at Calape National High School and Tominjao National High School, both in Daanbantayan. Daanbantayan is at the very northern tip of Cebu, and it was in the direct path of Typhoon Haiyan in November of 2013. We are so happy that we’ll be able to support these schools that sustained a lot of damage in that catastrophe. And in a first, we will be installing the Reneal system for three of the brand new Senior High Schools: Arcelo Memorial, Carmen, and Daanbantayan. So although it’s a big chunk of work to install at five schools, we’ll be working with three very experienced IT teachers for the three Senior High installations.
The jet lag is gone, the laundry is done, and now we’re ready to start planning the next batch of projects in Cebu. There is a Reneal IEO Board of Directors meeting tomorrow, and we’re excited to see the outcome as they analyze the data we’ve collected to date on prospects for later this year in Cebu. Reneal IEO is now supporting TWENTY schools in Cebu, and we look forward to the possibility of adding more. In the meantime, below is a summary of the 2016 work to date that we presented to Dr. Rhea Mar Angtud, the Superintendent of Cebu Province Division, and Dr. Arden Monisit, the Superintendent of Mandaue City Division.
We’re sitting here in Seoul, the 9-hour layover serving as an interlude to the always-difficult transition between our life in the Philippines and our life in California. There are many things we’re looking forward to: the silence of the suburb where we live, spinach, cooler temperatures, and of course friends and family in the US. But I am already missing our family in Cebu, spread now from Daanbantayan to Mandaue City, but most especially in our home town of Compostela. It is ten years this month since we first arrived in Manila as new US Peace Corps Volunteers, and we both continue to be amazed and humbled by the blessings that we have received since we first set foot on Filipino soil.
Suddenly the end of this trip is near, and we’re in “pohon time”. “Pohon” is a word in the local Cebuano dialect that doesn’t have an exact English translation, but captures so well the multitude of emotions we are feeling right now: a sense of melancholy that we’ll be leaving soon, a joyful hope that we will return, and a deep gratitude for the experiences we’ve had these last 8 weeks. At each parting, we say “kita ta sa September pohon” – although we know that nothing in life is certain, we will hopefully see each other again in September.
Things did not slow down much this past week! We spent Monday finishing up at Tipolo National High School, paid visits to several of our 2014/2015 schools on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday, and celebrated the People Power Holiday on Thursday at Compostela National High School starting a major rearrangement of a couple of computer labs.
This last week was probably the crux of our trip, a week where we combined a new installation, visits to previous installations, and scouting for our next trip. We were both viewing the week with some trepidation, because this was all done up in northern Cebu on a rather tight time schedule with no well-stocked computer stores nearby for emergency purchases. However it ended up going wonderfully and we returned home last night happy and excited for the future.
Wow, so much has happened since my last post! We completed our work at Mulao NHS last Wednesday, holding orientation training for the teachers. Thursday and Friday we reported to Compostela NHS to work on miscellaneous tasks, and early Saturday morning we headed off to northern Cebu for the entire week. We’ll have teacher orientation training tomorrow at Almacen Torrevillas NHS in Medellin. It’s been a whirlwind, but things have gone very well so far.