Monthly Archives: March 2016

Zu will stay for now :)

I wired the first supplemental salary payment to Zu on March 15. I will continue every month for the next 6 months. It’s tracked in The Books.

Our goal was to raise $1500 by March 15, and we raised $1000 as of March 20.  You know what – that totally works out. Why? Because Zu agreed to stay for now, but for less $ than I offered. Her reasoning: so we would use the extra $ to pay for a new teacher for the kindergarteners. She feels strongly that they need a full time teacher. I couldn’t agree more. Zu’s pretty awesome.

The Khan is Strong with this One

Last week, I drove to Sumayyah’s apartment at least four times – each time debugging something that had gone wrong with her laptop.  Examples:

  • passwords on Khan weren’t working
  • Windows 8 clock wouldn’t synchronize, as such, https certificates failed authentication (end result: no Khan Academy access)
  • one month pre-paid wifi sim card ran out of data, 2 weeks early

So much driving, so much time at digi wireless help desk, so much time sitting in traffic on Jalan Scottland. Okay, I’ll stop being a complainy-pants now. At long last, a few days ago, we had her set up properly. With a 6 month pre-paid sim card allowing twice the data per month, she now has unfettered access to Khan Academy.


From what I can tell, she’s knocking her lessons out of the park. Check out this activity graph. She’s earned badges every day since she got back on track five days ago.

From my Khan Academy dashboard, I see her activity and progress.  It took a while, but it seems she’s finally set up. And working hard. I’m proud of her.


Everyone Loves Learning About the Solar Eclipse

Photo credit: Heather Lang, she was smart enough to get her camera when she saw the eclipse.

Just before dropping my son at school Wednesday morning, he spotted the partial eclipse from our car. So cool!  As soon as I pulled up to the curb, he ran off to see if he could see more from the roof. I drove off to the Peace Learning Centre to teach.

Naturally, once I got to the classroom I made the lesson all about solar eclipses. Three of the kids had observed it that morning too, and were excited to learn what what going on.

The lesson was great for building English skills because the kids had to master prepositions like between, and in front of. We talked about shadows, and orbits, and line of sight.

They asked about Mercury, Venus and Mars. Just like last week, they asked if people lived on those planets. And again, I explained, uh, no. Nur wanted to know why not. I kept it simple: Mars is too cold and Venus and Mercury are too hot. Earth is just right. Oh, but there’s so much more to tell. For example: Hubble Spies Most Distant, Oldest Galaxy, Ever.


Zu Might leave … Noooooo!!!!

Zu is the main teacher who holds the school together. She teaches about 30 kids every day. She’s paid approximately 1/3 of what an average teacher in the area should make.

While my goal is to fund the school long-term, we need to raise money to supplement Zu’s salary. If we can raise $1500 USD, we can promise her a $250 raise per month for the next six months. Hopefully by then, we’ll have our 501c3 status and can raise more money.

We’ve raised $190 so far, will you help us get to $1500?

Paypal and Credit Card donations here.

Everyone Loves Learning about the Solar System

Today, the Rohingya refugee kids paid attention like never before. They couldn’t get enough about the sizes and distances between planets. Rukiyah took pride in calculating the diameters of each planet, given their radii.


They marveled at the fact that Jupiter is over ten times bigger,in diameter, than Earth, and the sun is ten times bigger than Jupiter.

They oohed and ahhed as I walked all the way to the back white board to show how far out Uranus, Pluto and Neptune were.

But the thing that blew their minds was learning about galaxies and the universe. I asked them guess how many stars (suns) were in the Milky Way galaxy. Incredibly, Arfat guessed 400 billion. The right answer is that we don’t know, but scientists estimate there are between 100 billion and 400 billion stars in the Milky Way. Arfat was pretty pleased with himself.

At the end of the discussion, Nur was so excited, he asked me to take a bunch of pictures.

I think today was the most fun I’ve had since I began teaching English here last May.