Thursday, June 14, 2012

RISE’s Internet Café Grand Opening

  On Thursday, June 7th, 2012 with blood, sweat and tears we proudly opened the computer lab at the RISE elementary school, which we named the “RISE Internet Café.”  Students sat in amazement while viewing an animated PowerPoint slide introducing the lab and all of its functionalities. During one of our introduction sessions the 6th grade students simultaneously shouted “Thank you Bridget and Abby for the Computer Technology Program!”

The Internet Café includes 4- laptops (2 new, 2 donated), 2- desktops (both donated), 1- digital camera, 2- printers, 1- scanner/copier, 6- headsets, 1- backup generator, 1- wireless rooter, 4– Memory Sticks, and about 50+ educational CD-ROMS.

 I am so proud of RISE and its commitment to educate rural children of India in computer technology in order to close the digital divide.  

Friday, June 8, 2012


"The road to success is not straight: There is a curve called failure, a loop called confusion, speed bumps called friends, caution lights called family and you will have flats called jobs. But, if you have a spare called determination, an engine called perseverance, insurance called faith and a driver called God, you will make it to a place called success!"

Did you ever wake up on the wrong side of the bed? As an optimist, if I ever wake up on the wrong side of the bed I like to lie back down and get up from the opposite side of the bed in an attempt of ridding any negative feelings. Today was different though, it was a day some individuals refer to as "Murphy's Law," where "anything that can go wrong, will go wrong."

As usual I got up this morning in my dormitory with my counterpart, Bridget Meyer, at 6:00 a.m. to review our daily lesson plan. However, today was no ordinary day. Every laptop and memory card, we used to save our training used to teach village teachers about computer applications, caught a virus. It turned out all of our files were transformed into shortcuts and would not open. We were overwhelmed by the thought of losing all of our files because all the documents we needed to implement a successful computer technology program were on our desktop files and flash drives. Of course we had backed up all of our files but even those devices caught a virus. I tried to quickly get on the Internet and search for a solution to the problem but was unable to get on the web because the virus contaminated all of our removable devices and made them unable to use.

We hurried down to the RISE computer lab, which we recently established, to connect to the Internet. As we entered the school we realized the power was down (a common occurrence in rural India) and no one was certain as to when the power would be accessible again. No power = No Internet. As Bridget was walking back to our dormitory she tripped over a rock and sliced the bottom of her foot on a rock. Blood spilled everywhere, adding an additional layer to our already messy day.

Like warriors wounded from battle we pushed through thirteen hours of troubleshooting in a failed attempt to fixing our virus problem and dealing with India's customer service (which is almost non-existent). Our entire day was a loss since we were not able to conduct our training with any of the students or teachers. After having dinner with Krishnan, the founder of the organization, he empathized and listened to our horrific story. He urged us (Bridget and I) to give the day a rest (which typically ends at 1:00 a.m.) and invited us to spend the rest of the day staring at the stars and watching the moon-rise. Never have I ever witnessed a unforgettable phenomenon I will never forget.

The moon was so bright and beautiful as it gracefully rose and took it place in the dark sky giving us the proper amount of light needed to walk back to our homes. Maybe this was life's way of forcing us to take a break while in India and enjoy the scenery...if only the message would have been delivered in a more peaceful manner. :-)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Excited to Learn Technology

During one of our Computer Technology Program training sessions I was passed a love letter from one of the teachers, S.E. Sangeetha, expressing her excitement of our training session. Naturally my heart melted after reading her great attempt of writing in English so that I could understand her emotions.

I decided to share her letter with our supporters. 

Listed below I have typed out her email so that you all can review. Please do not be judgmental regarding any of her spelling or grammar, thank you in advance:

“My name is S.E. Sangeetha. I am working in the RISE School.

First, I will like to say thank you to Mr. Krishnan and our correspondent Geetha Krishnan for giving me this great opportunity to learn about laptops and meet Bridget and Abby. Both are very nice persons. This has been the first time I have ever met and talked to foreigners very closely. 

Already I had seen M.S. office in basic documents. These past two days I practiced a lot of new things using the laptop. I also got to learn how to use a LCD projector. This will be very useful in my class teaching for this academic year. I hope my students will enjoy this method of teaching.

Bridget and Abby make the class very interesting. I like your teaching and you also.

Thank you!”

I hope you enjoyed the note! It is a great delight to be teaching women about the use of technology. 

Thanks so much for reading. 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Can You Be A Successful Leader in the 21st Century and Be Fearful of Technology?

Meet Madame Sharadha, the principle of Rural India StudentEducation (RISE) elementary school located in the small rural village of Thimmanguthu near Pollachi, India. Fierce and determined she leads a team of ten teachers to adopt an all English curriculum that is technological advanced. Her passion and objective is clear, she wants to push the boundaries of learning in the rural village.
Madame Sharadha (in middle) speaking with students
First to graduate in her family, she holds a Master in Education and is the breadwinner in her home. Highly respected, she walks with confidence amongst the villagers and teachers, but one thing keeps Sharadha up at night, her fear of technology. How can a woman so powerful and accomplished live a life fearful of electrical devices designed to advance human life? The capabilities of a laptop/computer and other electrical devices fascinate her but she is still very weary of being a middle-aged female living in such a technological world with limited knowledge of the field. As any great leader Sharadha encourages her teachers and students to advance in the field regardless of her shortfalls. 
With the Computer Technology Program taking place this summer Sharadha made a special request that we help her get over her fears of using the computer because she knows education is the key to success. Learning how to use a laptop and its applications can only help Sharahda and her vision in turning the RISE elementary school into an advanced technology institution for her students.
We salute Madame Sharadha on her mission and are very thankful to help her reach goals.
To learn more about Madame Sharadha tune in for in-person interviews on her progress and vision. (Please Note: Youtube clips will be public after June21st)

"All I want is a Laptop"

“If I had one wish – I would ask for a personal laptop!” words of ten-year-old Sri Lakshmi, a student of the Rural India Student Education Foundation (RISE).  Sri Lakshmi is an only child and the only child living on the RISE campus. Extremely smart she translates English to Tamil in her village, she knows how to use a laptop and she is extremely advanced in mathematics. Her hobbies include yoga, karate and dance; all activities that are taught at the RISE elementary school. She tries to hide her beautiful smile as she shows off her moves. When we asked her “What do you want us to help you with?” she quickly responded: “All I want is a laptop,” she went on for twenty minutes on how a laptop could help advance her in school. She loves translating for the people in her village and would love to help create translation signs for the elderly workers in the village. Only ten years of age but already inspired to help teach the people of her village be more advanced.

Sri Lakshmi was one of the first of ninety students to greet us on the campus. As our bus arrived in front of the campus it dropped us onto a dark path to our place of residence, for which we would be staying for the duration of our trip.  Our first memory of Sri Lakshmi was her beautiful smile and greeting us in English “Welcome to Rise Foundation, I have spent all day waiting for your arrival; I hear you are the teachers with the laptops.”

It is such exciting times for the students at RISE elementary to have foreigners visit the campus to deliver laptops and train teachers. Our aim is to help all of the determined students at RISE gain access to their personal laptop allowing the young children of the village to use laptops for homework assignments to increase their confidence as they enter higher levels of education in a technological advanced world.

We are currently collecting donations to help Sri Lakshmi purchase a laptop. We were able to secure a special discount at a local computer store offering laptops to us starting at $500. To donate or learn more about Sri Lakshmi wish please feel free to contact