(Note. Sorry about all the recent downtime. It’s been resolved – thanks for your patience!)

Today is my last day in Bijawar! It’s a little strange how well I’ve adapted to the vagaries of living here and how quickly the time has gone. I really wouldn’t mind a little Thai or sushi or frozen yogurt right about now, though. I made some Maggi (sort of like instant ramen) the other night, and it was such a nice change, even though the flavors were still definitely Indian.

Yesterday was Rakhi, so the school had a holiday. Attendance has also been a little spotty because of the festival.

In the last couple of days, we introduced Excel to the second batch of kids as well. They’re picking it up really fast, and they seem to understand it intuitively more than Word or Windows – which really just reinforces what we learned last winter. The first and second batches of kids are now at the same place in Excel because we skipped a bunch of stuff with the second batch to get to Excel more quickly. That said, they need to learn to use Windows and Word as well, so after I leave, I hope the teacher focuses on those topics a bit more.

Some of the kids were having trouble with the basic math in Excel – which operations do you perform on which numbers to get a percentage out of a data set? Which numbers do you multiply together to get total price out of unit price and number of units needed? I can’t tell whether they were being distracted by the shiny, shiny software, whether they were having difficulty translating the math they’ve learned in the classroom to a different application, or whether their math skills really just aren’t that great. I think it might be a combination of the first two, especially since what I’ve seen of the Indian system – and particularly the rural, resource-poor Indian system – emphasizes rote learning over creative thinking. (No judgment, just an observation.)

I checked the school’s warranty on the computers, and it turns out that it’s for three years. I called Wipro back and yelled at them for a bit, and now the status of my complaints is “pending engineer allocation,” which is an improvement over “rejected.”

In my last post, I forgot to mention that I bought a couple of power strips in Chhatarpur on Sunday and gave them to the school on Tuesday. They work. Also, it seems like all of the computers might be getting simultaneous internet connectivity soon, because some technician has been called to wire up the switches in the next few days.

The principal and school finally seem to be on board and at ease with what we’re doing, and they’ve relaxed enough to give the teacher the keys to the computer lab (before, he’d have to pick them up from someone’s house every morning). That at least bodes well for some sort of short-term sustainability.

I have another massive post in the works with a more detailed analysis of the kinds of challenges I’ve faced in my three weeks here, so stay tuned!