Friday, February 12, 2010

Anticlimax: Part 1

While we were in training, the Peace Corps instituted a new method of monitoring volunteer achievement by using trimesterly reports. Every 4 months we fill out an Excel Spreadsheet (with all kinds of fancy macros so it doesn’t feel like Excel at all) with all of the things we’ve done during those 4 months. It seems like there should be plenty, but with teaching day in and day out, there can be a lot of blank space in those reports. So we’re constantly on the lookout for menial triumphs to note on our Volunteer Report Forms.

I brought up this mental list 2 weeks ago when Yukiura, the Senior JICA (Japanese International Cooperation Agency) working with Samoa’s Ministry of Education, emailed me last week to ask if I’d present at the Computer Studies teachers meeting. He was looking for a Peace Corps to present the Peace Corps textbook volunteers have been putting together and editing and re-editing over the past 6 years. I agreed, and then immediately emailed Sara for some guidance.

I attended a couple textbook committee meetings during term 1 last year, and I assembled a draft of the Spreadsheet chapter, but after a certain point last year, Sara and Ryan were appointed to compile the materials and unify the layout. And I’ve been out of the loop since then.

Sara replied quickly with a bunch of helpful instructions on what I should talk about and how the textbook materials are organized. This was about 2 weeks ago, and I hadn’t given any more time or thought to the presentation until around midnight Tuesday when I realized I should probably put together materials for Wednesday’s presentation.

As I waded through the material and became more familiar, I began to feel like this presentation was a slightly bigger moment. The Peace Corps has been teaching computers in Samoa for 9 years, and all of the collective information that’s been passed down and perhaps the only tangible thing we’ll all leave behind are these teaching materials and textbook. And I suddenly realized this presentation was, in a way, the culmination of years of work of past PCVs. So there was some pressure.

Yet if this was the case, MESC’s setup already played down the moment. They’d scheduled me for late in the morning on the second day after they presented textbook materials they’d developed themselves. So with no fanfare, after tea and kekesaina on Thursday morning (“Surprise! We moved your presentation to tomorrow,” they told me.), I got up and presented the Peace Corps textbook and teaching materials.

I emphasized this was Peace Corps’s last year teaching computers—I searched for relief and/or glee on the faces around the room, but was happy when I saw none. I emphasized the blood, sweat, and tears many volunteers had put into it. And then I was done.

Yukiura thanked me for presenting, and the other PCVs who were at the meeting hooted and hollered as we Americans are prone to do. Every school received a copy of the textbook and teaching materials on DVD.

The Acknowledgement section calls out the following PCVs: Michael 71(?), Marques 75(?), Dylan 77, Meghan 77, Cale 79, Matt 79, Ryan 79, Sara 79, and me. Computer-wise, aside from our current classes, I guess our work here is done.

I hope you’re well. Pictures below.

Phil gives an impromptu lesson in Photoshop.

Me presenting. Blah blah blah.

The lady who came to speak about MESC's new SchoolNet project was the spitting image of my supervisor Adrianne at eCivis. It was creepy.


Barb Carusillo said...

Taking the baton on the Peace Corp text book and carrying it to the glorious (hopefully) finish line for your predecessors earns you major kudos. I know Sara sweated bullets getting her part done before leaving the islands (Cale right in there with her), and it is good it just didn't dissappear without notice and fanfare. Good show!

Cale and Sara's Long Layover said...

I just wanted to point out that the SchoolNet program in Samoa is nothing new. Steve from a group much earlier than us was at a SchoolNet school. Samoa has been working on (and failing at) this SchoolNet thing for years.

Marques Stewart said...

Amos(73) was the first Peace Corps Volunteer (I believe) that was involved in the SchoolNet project - he put alot of hard work into that. Hopefully it doesn't fail hard.

But Matt, thanks for letting me know that the hard work put into that Computer Text Book kept getting better and better. Your group numbers for Michael and myself are correct.

Good job!

Anonymous said...

It's hard to use a textbook you can't get. Why not put it on the net?

Tua said...

:) malo galue Matt!
great job, many of predecessors will surely thank you NO DOUBT about that!