May, 2011 VETA Mikumi Reflections

253745_10150201662887086_507597085_6863504_4073334_nThe opportunity to bring IT students from our program to the VETA Mikumi Campus and improve ICT resources for the students and staff there was definitely a WIN-­‐WIN  situation! We made a difference and that is the best that anyone involved in international service learning could hope for.

The two NSCC students who travelled to Tanzania had, I feel, an ideal service learning experience. They used their skills, their knowledge, and their practical experience to install a sable, reliable network infrastructure   at  the  Mikumi  Campus.   They  learned  about  teamwork   and  gained  a  truly  global perspective. It was what service learning should be: rewarding and enjoyable.

The project also had an impact on the other students at the Truro Campus, as throughout the winter semester many “teachable moments” arose from discussions of the value and sustainability of various resources  and  components  we  considered  for  the  project:  virtual  disks…  VLANs…wireless  vs.  wired links…etc. With the success of this project, we all have a renewed appreciation for the value of planning and preparation.

We  accomplished  our  service  goal  and  far exceeded  our  learning  goals  and  credit  for that  must  be equally shared with the staff and administration  at VETA Mikumi.  We couldn’t have asked for better hosts  and  we  couldn’t   have  done  it  without  their  assistance.     They  were  accommodating   and appreciative and made us feel very welcomed.  The tourism students taught us about their country and their culture, and they shared their knowledge and time with us. We introduced Chrisostom Sosthenes to web  server administration only to find the next morning that the welcome message on the Mikumi WordPress Server was in now in Swahili and the photo was of the Mikumi Campus!…Just further confirmation that we had the right partner for this project.

After our time in Mikumi, I had the opportunity to attend the 6th Annual International eLearning Africa Conference  in  Dar  es  Salaam  as  a  presenter.   A  number  of  individuals  I  met  there  asked  me  for information  on  one  or  more  of  the  components  we  used  in  our  solution  at  Mikumi  (MSDNAA, DeepFreeze).  The  impression  I  was  left  with  was  that  our  project  at  Mikumi  could  be  replicated  a hundred times over in schools and college campuses throughout Africa. It would be exciting to think we could provide such an ideal service learning opportunity to even more NSCC students.

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