Monday in a Picture – Girls Got Game

This past weekend, a fellow PCV, Deacon, hosted a camp to introduce computer programming to girls from twenty communities around Swaziland. The camp began with a basic overview of what a computer is and various related TED Talks. Each community, represented by two girl students and one adult mentor, received one laptop computer with a variety of programs. Many of the students admitted that it was their first time touching a computer. 

The students learned programming through an interactive graphic language program known as Scratch. They followed tutorials to create games while learning what various commands did. It was amazing to see the students try different variables attempting to achieve desired results. In one instance, a pair of students and mentor asked for assistance with a variable that wasn’t working. I directed the students to the help section of the tutorial. Before I could go through it with them, they were searching for the solution to their variable problem. I watched as they found the solution, and adjusted their program accordingly. It was impossible to contain my excitement as students with limited computer knowledge in the morning were developing and troubleshooting interactive games by late afternoon. 

The next step for the students is to return to their respective communities where they will design unique games that tackle a social issue in Swaziland. In early 2018, the students and mentors will reconvene to showcase their games in a competition. 

The above picture was taken as pairs and small groups worked together to develop their games. 

Be kind to yourself. 

Sweet Dreams – Grocery Store Go To Guy

Because I am posted in a country where I might contract malaria, I have been given an antimalarial medication called, “Mefloquine”. One of the side effects of this medication is lucid dreaming. The following is what I dreamt last night (as best I can remember). 

​I was in a small town. It was possibly a college town. I had previously worked at a grocery store. I didn’t work there now, but still frequented the place because I knew it. 

I also was somehow affiliated with the local marching band. There had recently been a big festival or competition. I had said that it was my last one. That I wouldn’t be doing anymore after that. I wanted to focus on something else. Several of the new people in town were interested in the marching band/festival/camp. In fact, at the store, my friend Anna was the manager. She would refer people to me about their interest in the life. I think we had been to a festival together. I ended up serving as a bagger in the store just as I talked to people. I stopped coming around for a while. 

Anna was asking where I was. People had questions and I was still the guy to talk to. After some pressure from various places, I became a de facto section leader of this marching band festival camping experience. I couldn’t believe that I should be entrusted with such an honor. I still didn’t know how to read music. Eventually, I had new recruits before me. I was giving them their first pep talk. I was telling them that even simple words can be used to give powerful speeches. That they need to master the simple if they want to be great at this life. 

Be kind to yourself. 

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