Botswana Day 1 — Welcome, Planning, and Performance

I landed in Gaborone at 12:20 today, after a solid day and a half of air travel. Principal Andy Taylor welcomed me at the airport, and I met the new volunteer Phil Sandick, who is going to be a great asset to the school’s tech operations for an entire year. I met a few teachers whom I hadn’t seen in ten years and generally reacquainted myself with this lovely country and school. Andy and I resolved to start tomorrow’s investigations with the three computer science teachers and move from there to the heads of department. My first goal is to learn as quickly as possible what is being taught, what is the general state of the tech infrastructure, and what current technologies are most congruent with the teachers’ pedagogical and curricular objectives. The goal for the week is a draft technology strategic plan for the school.

If you are accustomed to the pace of technological change in the U.S., you would find the rate of change here about ten times as great. I was only here a decade ago, yet technology has advanced far more quickly than in the U.S. over that time. In 1994, I came here with a binder of CDs for my music, and the only ways to contact home were the staff room telephone or postal mail. This week, Phil Sandick arrived with iPod, Skype phone, and laptop computer! He is now so much more connected to the rest of the world. Though the internet connection here is slow, it is by no means impossible. They have two 1.5MB down/384k up connections, and once they get the proper router to enable load balancing, it will feel faster. Surfing and blogging feels just fine to me now.

On the cultural front, the school’s Maitisong Festival is underway. What a coincidence for me to be here during the cultural highlight of the year! This evening, I saw mind.junk.magic and Esther Baker-Tarpaga. For more information, visit the Maitisong Festival web site, the Botswana Guardian, or AllAfrica.com.

Skype should work fine from here, as long as the network isn’t too busy. Use the link at right to call me (kassissieh) if you have a moment. If I hang up on you, I’m in a meeting!

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