The SolarSPELL team held the first of two trainings with Peace Corps volunteers in Samoa in early June, 2016, on Savai’i island.
This training was particularly exciting for a few reasons: first, because all of the PC Volunteers in Samoa are English-language teachers, and/or librarians at their local schools. Thus, the SolarSPELL digital library is truly addressing a need within an existing initiative (or, as I prefer to say, hitting a synergistic sweet spot).
The training was also fantastic because the SPELL team had the opportunity to hang out with and get to know the volunteers on this island before the training started. The group was incredibly welcoming and inclusive! Their enthusiasm during the training was incredible and quite contagious. It was really tremendous to hear how relevant they found the information on the libraries, and to see how excited they were to start using these digital libraries at their schools.
The team also had the opportunity to visit a few of the schools where volunteers are stationed, and to see the libraries they were in the process of setting up there.
It was particularly exciting when we visited the second school: classes were finished for the day, but the teachers were still there. When we showed them the SolarSPELL it was pretty incredible, as every teacher there had a smartphone with her. We showed each of them how to connect to the library with the WiFi on their phones, and within minutes (seconds?) they were all surfing the SolarSPELL website.
In fact, one of them had never used the WiFi or Web Browser features on her phone before, because Internet connectivity is neither common nor affordable here. She was so excited to learn that she already had these capabilities on her very own phone, and could now surf the library’s “Internet” for free!