Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Volunteers helping to restore education in class rooms throughout Port au Prince

Snow is falling in Northern Illinois this week and that gives Vicki Kessel a great opportunity to carry her computer outside and show the snow drifts to her English class in Haiti. Vicki lives 150 miles west of Chicago, and she loves her volunteer virtual teaching job. “The kids show up and are so eager to learn, I just love this work.”

For 3 months Vicki has been connected to classes of 10 to 20 students organized in Port au Prince by Teach the World Online, which started offering classes to children living in the tent cities three weeks after the earthquake and is trying to expand the classroom sites in Haiti as fast as donations will allow. Money is needed for the student classroom space rental, the internet access costs, and one laptop computer for each class, and speakers to plug in so the children can hear the teacher talking to them from the laptop screen.

Working with Teach the World online’s curriculum coordinator, Vicki has her daily lesson plans and works to engage the class, get them to speak to her and to each other in English. There is a class monitor who helps interpret and keep the class focused on the Haitian end. Children have lessons to take home, and “each one, teach one” is expected from the children, who have widely varying English skills.

It has been reported that 4000 schools were destroyed by the earthquake in Haiti. Free universal education is not offered, and tuition schools are too expensive for most children, so the children of Haiti are losing valuable years of education as they wait to see how and when their country will be rebuilt.
Vicki Kessel is logging on to Skype and hoping the connection will stay strong for her 4 PM Port au Prince class, because today they will be reciting some poetry, and singing a song they learned this week. She sees 6 faces in the small camera range, with 10 more behind, all eager to speak to her . She starts; “Hello Everyone, My name is Vicki, and I live in Illinois. What is your name, and where do you live?” In a later poling question she asks, “How many of you live in a tent?” On her monitor she sees all the hands go up, tent is an English word that everyone knows.
To see a class and hear a teacher starting a class of beginners go to:
Contact information:
Vicki Kessel

Justin Purnell

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