OLPCorps USU Rwanda
XO GO: USU Students for Rwanda
As a result of the 1994 genocide, Rwanda gained at least one million new orphans of all ages. As the potential new leaders of Rwanda's future, these orphans face obstacles that can irreversibly hinder self-development. The UNGANA Foundation and students from Utah State University (USU) will join the Independent University of Kigali (ULK), Gisenyi Campus and local orphanages and primary schools to implement XO Go: a One Laptop Per Child initiative aimed at teaching creativity and life skills using technology to disadvantaged youth.
Gisenyi's children are imaginative, resilient and most importantly – they are mature at a young age. But despite developing survival skills, they still lack the tools necessary to ‘improve’ their lives. If orphans knew how to save money, speak English and use computers, they would be provided with endless opportunities, real-world skills, and a renewed sense of confidence; this places them on the course to become community entrepreneurs. By starting businesses, earning money for their family and stimulating the economy, these children will become agents of change in their communities. This is the objective of the XO Go Program; a parallel to the goals of The UNGANA Foundation. We hope to empower an already impressive youth and build them a global support network. Rwanda’s strongest social initiatives can be united with its strongest population: young survivors.
XO Go Specifics:
XO Go expounds on the original XO application platform through studying basic English and money management principles. The English curriculum will involve learning nouns and common phrases through games and activities using open source software; the money management curriculum includes simple savings and planning principles practiced also through engaging activities with open source software. XO Go is built on diversity, offering peer-to-peer interaction, and creativity development activities – all enabled through XO Laptops.
It starts with the UNGANA Foundation's hub in rural Gisenyi, Rwanda where international volunteers and local ULK students are united to teach and mentor at ULK campus in an after-school/vocational program. This team of 'big brothers and sisters' will work with small groups of 6-12 years old on rotating shifts throughout the week conducting workshops based on the XO Go curriculum. In addition to the weekly classes, these mentors will organize weekend field trips and community service in order to build networks and community support for the children.
Xo Go will host 3 weekday classes at ULK campus, enabling access to the Internet, power grid and early exposure to higher education. An additional 1-2 weekday activities will be held at the student's school with outdoor field trips on weekends. Because the XO Go program mobilizes locals, language barriers will be dissolved and long-term sustainability will follow the initial ten-week program.
Regionally, the Rwandan Government is in strong support of English education, children’s savings, and technology (XO Laptops in particular) deployment throughout schools in the entire country. Extension programs such as XO Go, will further build Rwanda's bright future through an immensely large and irrefutably talented youth population.
The core team of XO Go will join UNGANA Associates and volunteers in Gisenyi, Rwanda on June 1, 2009. Before the June XO training, team XO Go will have the opportunity to begin developing lesson plans with the local university students and orphanage administrators, in addition to solidifying technical preparations. Most importantly though, the XO Go team can meet the orphans and build positive relationships with them.
On June 9, 2009, XO Go team members will participate in the OLPCorps Africa training in Kigali, Rwanda. Following their training, the team will make the short trip back to Gisenyi to orchestrate XO Go deployment over the next 8 weeks.
The team is comprised of three Utah State students and one nonprofit professional. Three of the four team members have traveled to Rwanda on previous research, and are fully aware of rural Gisenyi’s obstacles. Their experiences have allowed them to develop close relationships with community members, local professionals, and the country itself. It is through this local understanding XO Go was developed.
|Greg Allan||Computer Science||Utah State|
|Ashley Linford||International Studies||Utah State|
|Alyssa Callister||Marketing||Utah State|
|Alexander Erickson||Managing Director||Ungana Foundation|
Greg Allan - Computer Science - USU Greg has focused on computer security, writing papers with professors from both Utah Statue University and Notre Dame University. For the entirety of his undergraduate career, he has helped his fellow develop computer skills as a Computer & Information Literacy administrator. That experience has made him aware just how integral computers are in a student's success. Greg is experienced in the Sugar operating system, has learned the XO application platform, and has begun to acquire various open source software options for the curriculum.
Ashley Linford - International Studies - USU Ashley has diverse international experience stretching across Latin American, Asia, Eastern Europe and Africa. These experiences have developed her cultural sensitivity and community interaction. Ashley is currently working with kids and teaching English in Japan and plans to continue her pursuit of teaching in the XO Go program. After a research trip to Rwanda in May, 2008, Ashley decided she had to help Rwandese youth; XO Go is an opportunity for her to do so.
Alyssa Callister - Marketing - USU Alyssa is in her last semester as a student at USU studying business marketing. She is currently an intern for US Senator Hatch working primarily on the finance committee. She has conducted extensive research on the ASPIRE act, legislation focusing on child savings accounts, worked with top economists and legislative counsel to refine and push child savings programs in the US. Alyssa just returned from Rwanda and is familiar with the culture and the people. Her French skills, experience with child savings and the country of Rwanda, make her a valuable addition to the team.
Alexander Erickson - Managing Director - Ungana Foundation A USU alumni, Alex is very excited to bring the Ungana Foundation together with USU students in this promising initiative. He has overseen the development of this nonprofit in Rwanda, and is ensuring partnerships with ULK, schools and orphanages, and local community members. Alex holds a bachelors in economics from Utah State University and has been involved in efforts in Rwanda for over a year now. His extensive knowledge of the region and basic language abilities make him an important asset to XO Go.
Finances (coming soon)
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