Tuesday, September 25, 2007

New Computer Lab

Well I am back on Savai'i. This last week has been absolutely crazy. First and foremost I have a new lab… not something I was expecting when I headed back to school. I knew that a new lab was being built as well as a new teacher’s lounge and office area, but I was told it would be completed sometime in November, which to me meant towards the end of the year. Apparently they did a lot of work over the school break.

I first arrived back at school one week after the new term had started. I knew I would miss a week, but I didn’t know that week would be so busy. On Monday morning I got a ride to my site with all of my stuff from Peace Corps. (I had things I didn’t want stolen stored in the PC office). After a quick shower and change I walked up to my lab… only to find nothing there! Nothing. The room was empty and torn all up. I asked one of the teachers where all of my computers were and he said since I had missed so much school they gave them all away. No, seriously, where were they.

So I started looking around. The new building that was being built when I left was just a teacher’s lounge and office. There was no computer lab anywhere. Until finally Laupama told me over the break they started and completed an entirely new and different building (my lab). She pointed the way and I stumbled into a room they were trying to call a computer lab. I couldn’t ask my principal any questions concerning the lab because he had just left for Australia with 2 boys from our school who made the international under 19s rugby team. Let me paint a picture for you of what I saw: The room has open windows that cannot shut or seal entirely, my computers were either on a pile on the floor, or stuck (literally glued) to the wood counters that were not dry when the computers were placed upon them, glue, tar and paint all over the floor, no a/c and a few computers that had broken because they were turned on in this heat and humidity without even a fan or airflow. To top it all off, this week final tests were to be submitted and printed and the few computers of mine that were up and running had a new virus on them contracted from my secretaries “new” computer, that came with 5 different viruses on it. Whew! My jaw dropped and I think maybe a tear.

Also, I was told that the Director of the Methodist Board of Education had FINALLY delivered the printer I had been asking for for the last 2 years, HOWEVER my secretary took it as her own since she said and I quote “needed a new once since hers was out of ink.” Alright, first task on that list was to get my printer back. The Vice Principal didn’t know or believe me that the printer was mine, but after a brief phone call to the Director, we now have a printer. However, since finals were due and the secretaries printer is out of ink, that meant everyone now came to our room to use it and print things out… which means my counterparts and I were also asked to type out all of the test too…

Next step on my list last week was to remove the viruses from all our computers. A few had antivirus software so it wasn’t hard, a few I had to install the software, and on the secretaries computer the viruses were so bad I couldn’t even install the antivirus program. After 2 nights, 4 hours straight each time, I finally got everything cleaned up and working, though I still have a few kinks to work out.

Next order of business was to get the lab into decent shape. This last Saturday, my 2 counterparts and I headed into the lab in the morning to get down on our hands and knees and scrub the floor. With knives, water and kerosene, 8 hours later, the floor actually looked like it was in a new building and all paint, glue and tar has been removed. Yeah! It’s finally starting to feel like a real classroom. We also had the air-conditioned from the old lab installed into the new one. To further protect the computers from the crazy humidity in this country, I am also going to cover the windows with cardboard.

Whew. This week has already been a little less hectic. I pulled a muscle in my arm from all the scrubbing (typing is hurting it now), but other than that it is really coming along. Everyone is required to leave their shoes at the door when they come in, yes even the pastors (who don’t like that new rule, but I didn’t pull a muscle in my arm for no reason). I am actually pretty proud of this new lab and it’s good to see it will be passed into good hands…

I am trying to really enjoy the time I have left and not get too stressed at what is being thrown at me these last few months. After talking with another volunteer on the phone yesterday, we were trying to figure out when I could make it out to their village for a visit and I realized, I only have so few weekends left and they are full until I pretty much head out. These next 11 weeks are going to fly by. Everything from now until then I want to do, but it will make it go by fast.

I have included a few pictures of our new lab and the building. Enjoy.
The lab from the outside. Notice the slatted windows
Looking from the back of the computer lab towards the front. (This is pre-cleaned floor). The teacher's computer is in the front (far left corner).
From the front looking towards the back. Laupama joined me for a "chat," but notice she's on the phone; I think she just wanted to enjoy the airconditioned room.
My monitors, computers and computer parts piled on the floor in front. (At least the smaller things were put in boxes)
Lailing on the floor cleaning it. Notice how the floor is starting to look better! (And yes, that is a vacuum on the floor. Instead of sweeping all the dust around which would just fall back onto the computers, we tried vacuuming it up with Lailings vacuum...)
Meaalofa and Lailing cleaning... (8 hours of hard work) Notice the knife in her hand...


At 4:22 PM, Anonymous Christi said...

Nice work Julya! Looks beauuuutiful. :)

At 9:12 PM, Anonymous Aunt Susan said...

How exciting! Your last eleven weeks in a new lab, even if it did arrive with an astounding shock and staggering drudgery. Could make it hard to leave, but as you think back over the time you've spent there, you can be grateful for all the changes, and the advancements you've enabled your students to achieve.

At 10:00 PM, Blogger Grace for us all... said...

Wow. You now have that great air-conditioned luxury computer lab, so you may not EVER want to come back. We sure miss you, though. Can't wait for Christmas!

At 2:16 PM, Blogger Julya Steyh said...

Well, the a/c isn't strong enough for the room, so it's actually fairly hot and muggy still. BUT, if we get that 2nd a/c put in, then yeah, I may never want to leave that room...


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