Last week, our class time has been very hands-on, as we’re approaching the end of computer basics and seeking to help the students really connect with and retain what they’ve learned. In particular, our teachers are working hard to help students understand how many of the concepts they’ve learned or learned more about can be utilized across the board in Microsoft Office.

On Monday, students did their first presentation—a Powerpoint of their 5-year plan—to help them apply what they’ve learned about Powerpoint, as well as practice their public speaking and sharing their goals. Everyone stood and delivered well, despite some having never used PowerPoint in a presentation before.

On Tuesday, after being shown an actual school advertisement flier, students spent the class creating their own mock school advertisement fliers—for iICT, of course—in Powerpoint. On Wednesday, students were given data and a goal and spent the class a spreadsheet in Excel, which included both a graph and a chart. They then migrated it into Powerpoint to turn it into a presentation. Each day we’re seeing more and more peer cooperation and collaboration to achieve their objectives. It’s always exciting to see what we’ve been discussing and aiming for come to life.

Student Meetings

Also last week, students had their monthly, one-on-one student meetings with our student care director, Melissa. She checked up on their progress and addressed any issues they or the staff perceived them to be having. Overall, students have definitely improved in submitting homework and taking initiative when they need help. They’re working hard to overcome challenges, like not having their own computers and having to find money to get to one, to use it, and to go on the internet. Also, based on the in-class presentations each gave last week, they received feedback and put it into practice by redoing their presentation on the spot. If their presentation skills were already solid, students were challenged with either mock interviews or strategic planning for their immediate future, based on what they had reported their long and short-term goals to be at last month’s meeting. Finally, students were encouraged to set a goal specifically relating to the course that they wanted to achieve by the time of next month’s meeting. We were very impressed with the results of these meetings. Students allowed themselves to be challenged and come out of their shells, to think about things in new ways, and to come away with something specific—an idea, a task, an improvement to make. It’s amazing what can happen with a small volunteer staff when they’re on the same page.

Power Outage

The power company that services Jinja (UMEME) had some scheduled maintenance to do that required them to cut power for the town all day starting at 9am—halfway through our final computer basics class. Being without a generator at this point, we had to make due in teaching a computer class with no computer access, so Anthony began his fundamentals of design component instead with a brief oral introduction. We then switched to doing some leadership development exercises, though they looked a lot like games, as fun was had by all.

It ended up being a good time of having students get up and practice what they’re learning about public speaking: some stood in front of the class and shared riddles, jokes, and some games of their own. It was nice to watch this peer network growing into the family we’re hoping for, as everyone genuinely enjoyed their time of interacting with each other, despite the frustrating circumstances. The class closed with one student, Derrick, sharing what he learned from attending the recent Jinja Business Summit at Town Hall—into which he gained entrance at a reduced rate, thanks to his iICT student ID. Yea!