Technology Solutions for Off-Grid Learning

Lifeline Energy – SCU Summer 2013 Interns in Zambia

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJack bartering at the market in Lusakapic 7Grade six students listening to stories about Zambia

  • “A lesson, an entire classroom, a future for a child” – so says Jack Bird about our Lifeplayer MP3. Read his final blog from Zambia.

As I sat down to write this blog on my last night in Zambia, I was plugged into my iPod listening to music. I skipped through a few songs until I found one that I liked. I adjusted the volume and pressed pause and got up to grab my laptop. Never once did I stop to think about how incredible it was that I could control what I listened to, how I listened to it, and when I listened to it. Even though I have been around MP3s for over a decade, it was not until I was introduced to Lifeline Energy that it occurred to me that they could be used for anything other than entertainment. As I sat staring at the tiny device in my had I was reminded of an experience I had had in Chikuni a few weeks ago…

  • Laura describes how her time in Zambia made her understand the importance of information access.

In the United States, I often feel like I am being inundated with information: World news headlines on my internet homepage; breaking national news during my favorite TV shows; local news updates between songs on the radio; emails about classes; emails about meetings; emails about rescheduled meetings; emails about traffic advisories; and text message alerts from Campus Safety. It’s all helpful — but the quantity of it can quickly become really overwhelming.

Last night when I was cooking fajitas at the mission house, I started to dance to a familiar tune. I quickly realized that I was dancing, not to any sort of local Tonga or Zambian beat, but to Justin Beiber. This sparked a lively dinner debate on the successes and shortcomings of “Beiber fever” around the world with the others we dine with for our evening community meal.

On the day we visited a radio school in Michelo, we interviewed a mother whose children were enrolled in the Learning at Taonga Market distance education program. After interviewing a group of people who had gathered to make bricks for the new school building, we asked for a volunteer parent.

I think it’s interesting how much your perspective on life can be shaped by where you have come from and what you have experienced. Something might be so familiar to you that it may never cross your mind that you could look at it or think about it in any other way.

“Its just so…painful,” Boniface said as he pulled the motorcycle over on the side of the road. It was an understatement to say the least.

As part of our internship, Lynsey, Jack, and I have been visiting Taonga radio schools around Chikuni Parish to learn more about radio education. 

I have gained a new appreciation of the conveniences and luxuries of living in an urban area. Although I cannot stand the traffic and the concrete jungle of San Jose some days, I always know that I have access to almost everything I need.

As a native Oregonian, I think it’s fair to say I’m used to the rain. One thing I love about home is that we have four distinct seasons—three of which involve some form of precipitation. When it’s raining for nine months out of the year, it’s easy to feel like there is an unlimited supply of water in the world.

After bumping along the road for an hour and developing a fine layer of red dust on everything that we owned, we finally reached Michelo. As with many of the rural villages in Zambia, it seemed to come out of nowhere.

As the words of the famous Queen song go, I like to ride my bicycle.

Upon walking into the kitchen yesterday morning I was greeted with a “Happy Independence Day!” from Mrs. Milimo, our wonderful cook, who reminded me that it was indeed the Fourth of July. Despite being halfway around the world in rural Zambia, we were determined to celebrate as best we could. The night before, we had planned the menu and parceled out duties to everyone and were all set to get cooking the next day.

Sightings:

Jack bartering at the market in Lusaka

Charcoal in Ng'ombeIMG_0956IMG_0881OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIMG_0954

 

I perked up instantly when we watched the Taonga Market radio programming in action. Right after we arrived the grade four programming begun. The teacher gathered all the students who sat on mud bricks and turned up the radio.

Languages fascinate me. By using a language, we can communicate so many things with other people – we can share a funny story with our colleagues, explain a math problem to a child, or even articulate frustration. Every time I travel to a new place, the first thing that catches my attention is the language people are speaking. Since coming to Zambia, I have been amazed at the number of languages people here know.

Our hard working Interns:

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DSC02755-imp OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Team Lifeline forging ahead-imp

Sightings in Lusaka:

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Our first day in Zambia has already proven to be quite the adventure. We concluded a 20+ hour, two-night plane trip from California just as the sun was rising over Lusaka. No time was wasted as we immediately dove into the day’s activities that included shopping for food, meeting with the officials at the Education Broadcasting Service, and visiting a township orphanage.

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