Flying from Kansai Airport to Kuala Lumpur, to Kuching, to Miri, and finally to
Bario, it was quite a long travel. Planes got smaller as we transit, and the
plane from Miri to Bario was twin engine Otter which felt quite full with 14
people on board. We heard about the bad weather but we were blessed with great
sunshine without turbulences.
As the plane flew over highlands of Sarawak, we started to see untouched jungles
underneath, and rivers turned like a snake with brown water. Kelabit Highland
is the place the plane was heading, and Bario is like a center for scattered
longhouse communities. From UNIMAS team, we heard that children who are at
Bario school come mostly from outside Bario, where to reach their homes, a child
with longest trip takes 15 days by walk!!
I probably won't be able to reach school if I have to walk 15 days. So many
children stay in school dormitories and go home on weekend if travel is not so
long, on semester ends if schools are fairly far, on year end if schools are
very far. It is bit unimaginable for Japanese to have children in boarding
school when children are so young, but there are no options as a school in
Kelabit is very very limited.
e-Bario project started with the great mission almost 10 years ago with UNIMAS
(Universiti Malaysia Sarawak) and COERI(Centre of Excellence for Rural
Informatics) passion. As they started Pangaea last Feb. 09, they and TTC
(Telecommunication Technology Committee)
had minds to start Pangaea in this
remote village. I was quite worried about bumpy roads with mud and bugs before
I left Japan, but compared to Cambodia trip in '02 which put us in the 4 wheel
vehicle for more than 6 hours on very bumpy roads, it was a piece of cake. Also
very dusty road which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kenya took us near
Kisumu, with greens of lands and Bario rice harvesting season, air seemed very
Bario children probably wondered that what Pangaea is, and seeing projectors,
and computers, videos of Pangaea clips, they looked and seemed to get very
curious. Facilitators consisted of teachers at Bario school, gate securitiesy,
gardeners, PTAs, and all sorts. They enjoyed training so much and at the end,
they all broke into laughs as people introduced by Tako Introduction. They did
wonderful work as Fs as we had our kick-off activity. I have to mention that F
called Anis, who I think was PTA was amazingly talented artist! His Pangaea
house was very nice as he knows how to use crayons. Children knew that there is
something going on as they saw adults drawing something and all seemed very
happy on the day before kick-off. Seventeen boys and girls got together and
please check Pangaea blog for a photo.
PangaeaBlog:February 01, 2010 Starting Bario!
Well, then after Bario, we traveled back to Kuching and run two facilitator
training sessions, and that put Malaysia facilitators this year to be over fifty
people. Students seem to get interested in Pangaea, and they all come with very
enthusiastic eyes. What a reward! Then on Saturday, we connected UNIMAS and Mie
University for webcam. Children participated in UNIMAS were 32 as they wanted to
have 40, but I had to ask them to make 32 as Mie will have 24 or 25. So it did
ended up the largest number of children participated in webcam for one session.
I was MC for both sides, and boy! It was a tough day at work. We used Toolbox
of language grid
as tools for webcam menu, and 100% of
Malaysia participants said "Yes! We like Toolbox and like to use." So I guess
children are more open to new technologies than many adults.
Well, I think I am going bit too long, and say good bye for now!
This month Pangaea Ring writer is Gary
, from the Universiti Malaysia Sarawak.
He helped us a lot to open Bario in this January and he is keen to enhance
interaction among children not only internationally but also locally, within