Friday, April 28, 2017

Lakocerej English Room: A Culmination Of My Service

"How you do anything is how you do everything." Unknown.

          The Lakocerej English Room is complete. 

          It took time, patience and cooperation but it all came together to make a great learning space for the kids. It wasn't easy but we did it right and it was worth it. 

          First, a prelude. It takes time to develop trust and I worked with my colleagues on smaller projects, gradually building up their comfort with me. We painted the school windows, held Spelling Bee’s and soccer tournaments. We had a student-led art exhibition and painted a massive World Map

          After those projects were finished my counterpart, along with a few other coworkers, asked if I would submit a grant to create a much needed space for English learning. They mentioned that it would be very beneficial if they had the proper tools to create engaging lessons for their students. I was elated until I found out that the project would never be approved with my limited time remaining in service. So I promised them that I would extend my service to complete the school year thus allowing the necessary time to have the project approved and completed. 

          During the draft process my counterpart and I thought deeply about what to request.  We decided that we would use a multi-point approach. We requested digital technology, physical materials and the creation of a new classroom to organize those tools in a conducive environment for engaging lessons. The requested digital technology was a new laptop, projector and usb’s to share lesson plans with all teachers. The physical materials were two mobile white boards and a large stationary white board additionally used as the projector screen. Lastly, the new classroom would be built at the end of a hallway, incorporating the World Map project with a new floor, curtains to block out the morning sun and a large electric heater guaranteeing a warm and encouraging learning environment. 

          This project’s success was never guaranteed. However, due to our previous successful projects, my colleagues and the community knew that I would follow through on my promise.  So they greatly contributed to the success of this project by donating desks and pooled money together to buy new chairs.  They painted those desks and decorated the walls for a complete finish. 

          Honestly, the greatest frustration I had was being patient on the project coming together. This project was my largest focus but wasn’t for many others. They were more concerned with having enough food on the table or navigating the treacherous political terrain their governement is built on. Things that would take hours or days to complete in the West took weeks or months here. Realizing that was crucial for our success and my sanity.

          Lastly, this project wouldn't have succeeded without my colleagues, community members, director and counterpart. She especially made sure it all came together and that promises by people were followed through on.

Putting up the walls to make the room.
The room with the walls and plaster.
How it looked from the hallway.
Once the floorboards were put in the entire room brightened. 
Assembling the mobile white boards.
Installing the large white board.
Decorating the walls.
They painted the "Four Seasons". It's very well done.
Missing the desks and chairs.
Painting the desks. 
I wasn't allowed to paint without wearing the weird orange glove. 
The older students chipped in as well.
Little notes are left behind.
Here you can see how it all came together.
By using markers instead of chalk it's much easier for the students to write instead of just the teacher. 
Not to mention having a powerpoint presentation or watching a video is now a breeze to do instead of a massive chore.
Financials:
  • Total budgeted cost:  $1,362.96 (73,600 den) + 25% from the school/community.
  • Total money spent: $1,250.07 (70,395 den).
  • Difference: $56.95 (3,205 den).
Requested Materials:  

  • Laptop, projector, mobile white boards, large white board, usb's, 3in1 printer, scanner and copier.

Community/school contributions:

  • Built a new room, added floorboards, painted the room, plastered  the walls four feet up from the floor. Donated desks and bought new chairs. Helped decorate the room and desks. Plus, a table for storage.
Extra materials bought since we were under budget:

  • Electric heater, curtains, curtain rods, paint, brushes, extra white board markers, erasers and school supplies.

Final Analysis:

  • A month late on the original, and aggressively expected, completion date but under budget thus able to purchase additional supplies. 

          Finishing up, the Lakocerej English Room blended the previously completed World Map with help from colleagues, the support of our school director, community members and my counterpart. It took a village to complete this project but similar to the map it came out detailed, practical and elegant allowing it to be used by teachers, students and the community for years to come.

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