Monday, 22 March 2010

Khalid Ibn Al Waleed School Visit - Aqraba, Nablus

Today, March 21st 2010, marks our second visits to Palestinian schools in the Westbank. Last Thursday we visited Abu Falah School in Abu Falah village near Ramallah. Today we've been to two schools, a group went to Bodros school near Ramallah, and another to Khalid Ibn Al Waleed School.

I'll leave it to Bodros group to update you with a summary and Pictures.

We were trying a new approach to get the attention of kids by presenting the Sugar interface using a projector. This wasn't as easy as we thought, kids were really distracted by the laptop once they had it and it was hard to convince them to pay attention to the speaker. That was because that was the first time the kids ever saw the XOs!

13 volunteers left Birzeit around 7:30am to Aqraba directly in two seven-passenger caps. I had to go to Ramallah to hand Candy-bags and PaleXO TShirts to the other group. The guys updated the laptops, talked to the kids, played football with them and they even lined up with them in there morning lines and practiced morning exercises with them!

I've joined a bit late due to the fact that I had to go to Nablus first and from I headed to Aqraba. At the time of arrival, they were just about to start eating some meat-stuffed-bread that the teachers and principal of the school got for us along with the drinks. This was extremely nice from them and they were really nice to hang out with.

That was when we started the presentation. We setup the projector while Samar started showing the kids how to open the laptop and how to turn it on (Which they already figured it out by themselves). Then she moved to showing them the 4 views of Sugar and how to navigate between them, explaining what each one is for. This took some time as we expected, as it was the kids' first time to play with the laptop. All PaleXO members were helping the kids in the class follow up with Samar and apply what she was explaining if they couldn't get it.

One of the teacher suggested that we could go outside of the class in a near place called "Sibaryeh", a nice place with some olive trees and a nice view of mountains and Aqraba. We decided to go on an easier and a more fun experience for the kids by dividing ourselves into smaller groups and getting to know the kids more, what they like, and how fast they learn. That was amazingly fun and easier to manage for us and the kids. I even asked the kids who were accompanying me to shoot some pictures of the nature and for their friends while walking to that place, and soon they really got into it and started asking to take pictures of their teachers.

The kids had the chance to experience and play with multiple activities, including Speak, Write, Tuxmath, Arithmatic, Chat, Maze, Memorize, Record and Paint. Though some laptops were missing Tuxmath for some reason (It must be an error during the update process) but it was okay.

This time we've got candy-bags for the kids, they were holding their XO and candy with the same hand and they ate them while playing around with the XO. After finishing, we took the kids back to the school and gave them the chargers, asked them to fill evaluation forms with the help of the volunteers and gave them another evaluation form for their parents to fill.

This has been an amazing visit! Everything was really nice and I couldn't have imagined it any better, although not losing our TShirts bag at the end of the trip would've been nice! (~20 shirts in that bag). We also didn't have much time to go through Aqraba, but it was amazing visiting it, it's a beautiful place and has amazing views of mountains.

This hasn't ended here, the two groups have gathered and had a 14 people lunch at Angelo's Restaurant. This was full of fun, that some people said that it was "the best day in their life!". And I am sure the kids had the same experience as we watched them playing with their friends with the XO.

We would really like to applaud for all the guys who worked hard in this day. Noura Salhi, Salam Abu Makho, Ala' Allan, Lamees Shalash, Suhail Taha, Fayeq Al Remawi, Ayman Qarrout, Mohammad Khatib, Samer Ayesh, Reham, Ahlam, Anas Abdelrazeq, Anissa Yousef, Hanna Kreitem, Mohammed Nawahda, Abdul - Hafeth Salah, Morad Taleeb, Samah Qiwi, Yasmeen Hashem, Abeer Hammad, Raya. And the Teachers and principle of the school who were extremely nice.

We also would like to recognize some special efforts from: Ayman Qarout and his friend for bringing a projector, Hanna Krietem, with his help in getting the projectors and booking the room for the training session and for taking amazingly inspiring pictures, Tamer Alkhouli and Ala' Abu Nada, who helped with the coordination of the visit, and Noura Salhi for holding the training session for the volunteers.

We would also like to thank Exalt Technologies for buying the candy for the kids, they really loved it, as well as we did. And the ITC at Birzeit University for lending us two projectors.

Stay tuned for the Pictures and videos. 


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