OLPCorps Cornell Mauritania

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Mission Statement

  • We are a group of socially conscious, technically inclined students at Cornell University who wish to improve education in Africa. We believe that OLPC and its constructionist, hands-on learning method is the best way to do this.
  • We are going to use technology for the rest of our lives in whatever profession we choose. Acknowledging this, it is necessary to share a part of what we have been given. All children can succeed if given the right tools. We need to go out and share the technology that has enabled us to learn.
  • Improving literacy is the best application of this technology.

Who we are

Team Advisory Board
Name Major Responsibility
Eli Luxenberg Information Science '10 Project Lead (Fieldwork)
James Elkins Information Science '11 Logistics Lead (Fieldwork)
Charles Curwen Information Science '12 University Liason
Seth Luxenberg Policy Analysis and Management '08 Community Lead
Alan Garcia Information Science '09 Technology Lead
Nora Callinan Biological Sciences '08 Fundraising Lead
Jawwad Asghar Mechanical Engineering '11 Pedagogical Lead
Billy Podlaski Biological Sciences '11 Pedagogical Lead
Name Responsibility
Dmitry Epstein General Advising
Jennifer Wofford General Advising
Barbara Trueger General Advising


  • The Mario Einaudi Center has generously pledged $500 to our trip! Thank you so much Professor Ndulo and the Einaudi Center!
  • The Program of Information Science and the Faculty of Computing and Information Science have donated $400 to the trip! Thank you so much InfoSci and CIS and Jennifer!
  • We got interviewed by the Cornell Chronicle & they have a great article about us up on their website: Cornell Chronicle.
  • The Ithaca Times just ran a piece on us here: Ithaca Times. Unfortunately they messed up James's name - it is Elkins, not Elkin.
  • We have been featured in the Groton Independent - they picked up the story from the Ithaca Times.
  • The Alternative Press, a hyperlocal website targeting James's hometown of Livingston, NJ, ran the press release that we send them verbatim. If any other teams need an example of a press release they can find it here.
  • We're extremely excited to have been one of the 29 teams selected for the OLPCorps grant program! We want to extend our congratulations to the other winners, and our condolences to those who did not make it. If anyone has any questions, please feel free to contact us at eal95@cornell.edu or jhe44@cornell.edu.


  • Summer 2009 - June 20th-August 20th


  • Tdjikja, Mauritania

<googlemap version="0.9" lat="18.559205" lon="-11.431832" zoom="15"> 18.558205, -11.426863 Tidjikdja, Tagant Location of the Girls Mentoring Center </googlemap>

750 Word Formal Proposal

Please comment on the discussion page if you have any suggestions!

Girls' Mentoring Centers

Girls' Mentoring Centers (GMCs) across Mauritania provide private tutoring and computer lessons, art classes and creative days, yoga and other sports classes, sessions on effective study–skills, and health and AIDS seminars and other life skills seminars. They are comparable to 4H clubs or the YWCA in the U.S. Members of the GMCs are students from each regional high school and various elementary schools, and they are chosen according to motivation and participation, achievement in school and entrance exams. Local female Peace Corps Volunteers, along with local partners, manage the centers. Locally successful professional women from different sectors (health – including HIV/AIDS, education, information technology, administration, and agriculture) also participate in the centers' activities in order to mentor the girls and provide positive role models. These centers, along with other workshops and conferences, promote and facilitate girls' academic success and their attendance in school. In order to accommodate the XO deployment, the GMC will be open to boys and girls.

Cornell OLPC - OLPC Principles

Child Ownership
We offer a unique solution to this difficult problem based on a unique situation. We will satisfy child ownership by deploying the laptops through the GMC. The children will have a location to store their laptop when they do not wish to bring it home or if they are worried about potential theft. The central location of the deployment will also enable the Peace Corps and Girls Mentoring Center (GMC) staff to make sure that the laptops are actually being used by the children.
Low Ages
Working with the primary schools in Tidjikja in combination with the GMC we will identify children in the 6-12 age range who will benefit from the laptop. These children will be involved in a program that is centered around education for their specific age group.
We will achieve 100% saturation by deploying through a special program linking the primary schools and the GMC. In conjunction with our local partners, we will identify the students to partake in the program, and then, incorporate them into a program consisting of all the students that are to receive an XO. Rather than deploy at a major school, where only a fraction of the students could benefit, our program enables a group of 100 students to engage in learning.
Although Tidjikja is a rural city, there is internet access. We are exploring various methods of connectivity including use of the existing connections that have been set up. We are in talks with the infrastructure leaders of the town, including the controllers of power and internet. Additionally we plan to engage in pen-pal programs across Mauritania and with Arabic language students in the United States in order for the students to benefit both in language skills and in cultural awareness.
Free and Open Source
We plan to strictly hold by the OLPC principles of Free and Open Source software. None of the applications that we plan on using are proprietary. We will engage the students on collaborative projects and will encourage teamwork especially across the various Mauritania deployments. These projects will lay the foundation for students to learn the value of openness and will hold true to the OLPC principle.

How You Can Help

  • Send a check to us (James Elkins, 9 Bear Brook Lane, Livingston, NJ, 07039), made out to "One Laptop Per Child" (P.O. Box 425087 Cambridge, MA 02142 USA) and we will forward the check to OLPC, who will immediately cash it and forward it to us.
  • You can donate online here (http://laptop.org/en/participate/ways-to-give.shtml) - make sure to scroll down to the bottom to the Paypal link and you can pay by credit card or with a Paypal account. If you click the "give a laptop" button, that money has to be used by OLPC specifically for laptops - which isn't a bad thing, but that money will not get to us. The only caveat with donating by Paypal is there is no place to identify Cornell OLPC as the place where you'd like to give your money - so you should respond to the email you get from OLPC after you donate, saying that you'd like the money to go to us (Cornell OLPC). Once you do that, they will make sure that money gets to us. In both cases, we can supply you with a tax number, because OLPC is a 501(c)(3) organization.

Supporting Documentation

Our Budget

Deployment Plan & Notes

Peace Corps & GMC Letter of Support

Letter of Support - School Dren (Superintendent)

Letter of support from the Tidjikja community

Proposal in PDF form