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This blog tells about the extraordinary experience of a team of six Intel volunteers on an education project in Swaziland with the Intel Education Service Corp program. 

Our team set up the Mayiwane Primary School with 25 Classmate PCs and trained the teachers to teach basic computer skills to some of the cutest and neediest kids in the world.  We were astounded how far along the school came in the two weeks we were with them, and we know we’ve planted seeds for much bigger and better things to come.

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With mixed emotions saying our final goodbyes to the school and Swaziland and our driver friend Nhlanhla (pronounced something like “tchan-cha”).  We had a very successful project, where it was amazing and very rewarding to see how far along we were able to bring the teachers and kids (most of whom had never touched a PC before) in just 9 days. We left them with training and sustainability plans to integrate computers into their lesson plans and keep the momentum going. 

Four of us moved on to a fantastic week of vacation in South Africa, where we went to the Blyde River Canyon, Kruger National Park, and Cape Town.  Ping us about those if you’re interested.

The team members, from the left in the bottom picture, (along with our SiSwati names we were given), are::

Ed Epp “Sive” - teacher from Oregon

Stacy Yee “Gu Gu” - teacher from Oregon

Nhlanhla (our local driver)

Rosana McNew “Sibongile” - teacher from Oregon

Bruce Lippmann “Mandla” - Project Manager from Santa Clara

Sara Stille “Thuli” - technical expert from Oregon

Donna Yu “Jabulile” - technical expert from Taiwan

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At the ceremony, the school presented us with these beautiful emahiya (traditional dress shawls) and ligcebesha (beaded necklaces). There were many key figures from the Ministry of Education, Mayiwane school and NGOs.  The ceremony speakers were gracious enough to provide a translator who repeated all the SiSwati in English and there were lots of speeches, so the ceremony went on for about 3.5 hours.

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Final day ceremony.  The school with our partner NGO (Nazarene Compassionate Ministries) put on a great closing event attended by >1000 people including many officials from the schools and Ministry of Education and NGOs.  Mothers of the school kids cooked up a huge feast featuring 2 cows and several chickens the school slaughtered in our honor, a great honor in these parts.  Several were up all night cooking.

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The team worked hard and played hard!  We went on an amazing zip line canopy tour at Malolotja Park, where we were thrilled by about 12 zip line rides back and forth across a huge canyon.

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Ed introduced the kids to a WeDo Scratch lego set, where they were intrigued how they could program the computer to move the lego alligator jaws.  They flocked around him and were captivated for a couple hours.

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We were treated like celebrities the whole time, and the kids LOVED everything we showed them — we brought Frisbees, which they had never seen before … and we taught them high fives and fist bumps, where a big swarm of kids would instantly flock to us to join in.

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More very excited and cute school kids!  A few were barefoot, more had very poor fitting shoes - and they all walk to school each day, some as far as 6k each way!  Rosana very generously bought and donated many new shoes for them.

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on the first day as we were setting up, the kids kept peering into the classroom window and were fascinated by us and the computers.

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More action pics with the teachers!