The end of the Conozco Uruguay tour and eduJAM! summit 2011 opening

I really have to apologize for the lack of updates here but the past few days have simply been crazy and in many ways overwhelming. So, let’s do a very quick recap of the end of the Conozco Uruguay tour, I’ll try and compile my thoughts on eduJAM! summit itself in a separate post.

On Wednesday morning everybody was a little tired as Tuesday evening was spent on dinner and dancing with most people only hitting the matrace after 2AM. So on the ~3 hour ride back to Montevideo the bus was relatively quiet as a lot of people were catching up on sleep. In the afternoon we visited a school in Montevideo’s Euskal Erria neighbourhood which happened to be one of the schools I had also visited in July 2010. After a quick tour of the school we got together with the teachers and pupils of the 5th and 6th grade classes. We went through a quick round of introductions before we (the gringo visitors) basically just started talking to them. The pupils were amazingly energetic (and cheeky) and basically overwhelmed all of us with their questions, comments, and jokes. Sam turned out to be particularly popular with the pupils wanting to speak English, Anish got to teach a few words of Hindi, and Bastien talked some basic French. We didn’t see much learning going on but had some good conversations with the pupils, figured out why we saw two or three different software versions running on the XOs, and generally had a good time. After the school visit we hung out with the volunteers of the local RAP Ceibal chapter (again the same people I had met last year). Since this happened during their weekly public meeting a handful of pupils and parents dropped by with XOs which had a variety of issues. Paolo also spent some time talking about the various difficulties with the software and security setup, maintenance issues, etc. While most of these aspects weren’t necessarily new to me it was interesting to see the differences compared to last year, how some issues have gotten resolved, and how new issues have come up.

Thursday was our official day off with lots of people catching up on some badly needed sleep, others going on a tour of Montevideo organized by ceibalJAM! volunteers, and everyone just generally being relaxed. As Pablo had set up for him and me to go onto a live TV show at 9AM we unfortunately had to get out of bed quite early. The interview itself went quite well, surprisingly neither Pablo nor I were all that nervous and contrary to our expectations we also got quite a bit of time to explain what eduJAM! was all about. The rest of my morning was spent catching up on e-mails and finishing a project in Madrid. In the afternoon I had some smaller meetings with various people to discuss a broad variety of topics and ideas and plan some of the eduJAM! summit panels.

In the evening eduJAM! summit 2011 officially started. The entrance hall of the institution where the summit is hosted was a perfect venue for what I can only describe to be a perfect opening (well, except for the quality of the translator that is;-). It was great to catch up with many of the people I had met last year as well as finally be able to meet some of the people who I had only known by their e-mail addresses and IRC nicknames. Additionally various Uruguayan people and groups had tables where they presented the work they’re doing around Plan Ceibal. Apart from learning about the latest advances of the project butía robots I was particularly impressed by two students who built an electronic pen accessory for the XO.

We ended the day by invading a bar that Pablo had recommended. The waiters were kept busy with calls for food and drinks while two dozen or so people chatted about all things OLPC and Sugar, and a billion other things…



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