Friday, November 6, 2009

Juriehien's Day

Thursday was a great day. Many of the children take part in karate lessons on Thursday's, so today I worked with 3 of the older boys (they're around 15/16 yrs old).

Since there was only 3 of them (I usually work with about 10-15 at a time), I thought it was a great opportunity to try a new activity, that involved computer basics (such as: dragging and right-clicking) and math (length and angles). The activity is called Etoys.

Reading the instructions, the boys were at first hesitant because the steps were a lot more challenging than they were used to. I made a point to tell them that it was okay to go slow and we would go step by step, making sure they didn't feel discouraged (because I've learned that as soon as the kids are discouraged they want to give up). When each boy completed the first step of "finding the key and dragging it to the keyhole in the castle," I could see their eyes widen and their smiles grow as they realized that they in fact could do the challenging activity.

The game went on and eventually they were advancing by themselves, telling me to shush and let them do it themselves! It was a great moment when Juriehien was the first to "drive the car to the goal" and shout my name to come running over to show me his achievement. I gave Juriehien a big high-five. I finally began to see confidence in his eyes and the smile on his face showed a "wow I can do this" expression.

Juriehien is a boy who was a bit slower with learning the activities on the laptops, and I have recently begun to notice his frustration and lack of confidence, seeing some of his peers improve drastically, showing little trouble. However, today was Juriehien's day as his two older friends looked over his shoulder, asking him questions on how to work the activity, giving him "props" for what he had done. I was so happy and proud of Juriehien.

Unfortunately in many of the schools in the township, motivation and positive reinforcement is scarce. It is days like this Thursday, that these kids, kids like Juriehien, need to push them to work hard and that they are not "stupid" or incapable of a better future. The intelligence is there, it's just buried; and it's resources like the XO laptop that will help these children realize their talents and bring alive the self-confidence and motivation needed for a brighter future.

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