Sunday, January 20, 2008

Cleaning the Computer Lab or How to Turn Three Days of Work into Two Weeks

My school's computer lab

One of my goals for this break between training and the start of school was to get into my school’s computer lab.

When I visited the school for on on-the-job training in early November, I saw the rocking computer at the school. There were 24 relatively new IBM computers in the room. Someone had built a desk that ran around three sides of the room for all the computers and had set up Ethernet wire so they could be networked. It was air-conditioned and the floor was linoleum instead of the usual cement. However, I heard that only six of computers were currently working. That was why I wanted to get into the lab, to see if there was anything I (or more likely Cale) could do to get more of them working.

On Tuesday the 8th I got the key to the lab from my pule ([pull-ay] principal) and got to work simply turning the machines on and checking to see what towers, monitors, keyboards and mice worked. Cale came over on Wednesday and started fixing on the ones that weren’t working. Right off the bat, 12 of the computers appeared to be in working order. So that was better than the six I initially expected. With Cale’s help, we were able to get a total of 20 of the computers in working order. The biggest problem appeared to be the computers were missing their RAM. Another common problem was a setting that had been changed on the computer that would not allow the monitor to work with the computer.

After we had determined what was working and what was not working, I got to work on cleaning. The lab needed a good scrub down. So on Thursday I headed over with my broom and bucket and scrubby and set to work. I got one wall of the desk space cleaned that day. Cale came with me on Friday and we got that side of the room set up with nine working student computers and one working teacher computer. While Cale I was setting them up, I was cleaning and dusting them all. I even took a Q-tip to the keyboards.

Sunday night we were back in the lab. I was sweeping off the other side of the room, while Cale was trying to make the computer’s desktops and start menus look homogenous. Tuesday found me back in the lab cleaning the other side of the room. Wednesday, Cale was once again helping me set up the computers on the newly clean side of the room. I went through and cleaned the machines. Then Cale took off and I took to the final side of the room with my sponge and pail. Friday I turned the keys back over to my pule.

I would say that I never spent more than a couple of hours in the lab at one time. If I wanted to, and with Cale’s help, we probably could have knocked out the entire sorting, cleaning up and setting up process in three days. However, seeing as how the work in the computer lab was the most substantial, concrete thing I have had to do in a month, I didn’t want to waste it all in three days and then go back to reading books. Spreading it out in pieces meant that I could break up the time I spent reading all the books in the Peace Corps library. I suppose this is my way of saying that despite my nervousness, I am looking forward to school starting and getting down to the business of teaching. Granted, I am sure after a couple of months of teaching I will look wistfully back on that first month in the village when the post pressing thing I had to do all day was a load of laundry in a bucket.

— Sara

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