Digital Guyana

Posts Tagged ‘Georgetown

Every Wednesday after finishing our workshops me and the guys have walked back to our flats in Kitty via the National Park to get our weekly sporting fix. Nope, not cricket. Ultimate Frisbee.

For the last while (no one’s sure how long exactly) overseas volunteers from orgs including VSO and Peace Corps have gathered each week to play this high-octane game until the sun goes down over Georgetown’s sea wall. More recently, numbers have been swelled by local kids Ronaldo, Nicholas and Chris, who have picked up the sport with impressive ease.

I’ve always enjoyed chucking a Frisbee in the park with a few mates – who doesn’t? – but was deeply suspicious of a sport that came with the prefix ‘ultimate’ (in fact, the sport is now just called Ultimate after legal action from the Wham-O company who own the trademark for Frisbee). How wrong I was.

After just a few minutes of dodging flailing elbows, getting some serious airtime and chasing the plastic (that’s not Ultimate lingo by the way, I just made that up) I was hooked. The rules are a combination of American Football and netball (you can’t run when you have the frisbee), but it’s far superior to either of those sports. What’s more, like football, all you need is the ball (or in this case, frisbee), a stretch of grass and a few people to play.

As you can see from my video above, our standard of play is hardly world beating. But then we can claim local conditions as a major extenuating factor. Early morning deluges (we’re coming to the end of the rainy season here) mean that as well as keeping your eyes on the spinning disc that’s rapidly homing in on you, you better make sure you don’t wander – or slip on your arse – into one of the numerous muddy pools of water.

As well as the video, you can check out these pictures I’ve posted on Flickr. And while you’re on the site, have a look at our Digital Guyana group (or click on the sidebar on the right) where we’ve been adding all kinds of pics from our trip.

Advertisements

Station Street, Kitty

After a fairly gruelling journey on Friday, Pontus and I arrived in Georgetown in the early hours of Saturday. During the taxi ride from the airport we saw some crazy minibus driving, the Banks brewery and some beautiful, wooden, colonial-style houses – not a bad preview for what’s to come, I suspect.

The apartment is slightly better than expected, with a few mod-cons inside and a hammock out the back. Norma, who lives downstairs and looks after our flat, kindly cooked us breakfast on the first morning.

We then set off on a walking tour of the city to get a feel for our new surroundings. The centre of Georgetown isn’t quite what I expected – i’s not all that built up and the traffic on the roads is relatively light. Although it’s clearly not the welathiest city, there doesn’t seem to be too much disparity between the richest and poorest.

Matt and Hugh have been busy getting to know the local VSO contingent. On Saturday night we went out for food and drinks with a few of them (one of whom has been blogging since she arrived in Sept 07 – read Hannah’s blog here).

Yesterday (Sunday), we went to NCERD to check out the facilities for where we’ll be teaching over the coming weeks and to meet Jane, the person who first put forward the idea of a Web Skills project. Happily, everything seemed to be pretty much in order.

Afterwards we did some nature-spotting (which I’m sure will be explained in a later post) and dropped in at the swimming pool at a local hotel.

Today’s the first day of the course and our first students will be two groups of school students. This morning we’ll be teaching some basic HTML; after lunch we’re planning to have a preliminary discussion around social networking, kicking things off by watching Us Now.

We’ll let you know how it goes. In the meantime I need to get my things together.

Oh, and if the picture accompanying this post doesn’t explain the title, we’re in a part of Georgetown called Kitty. You can see more pics on my Flickr account.

Hi, I’m Hugh. I also heard about this project through an email forwarded from the station manager at Resonance FM, where, like Matt, I volunteer as a broadcast assistant and programme maker.

phoneboxpic

The opportunity to travel and share my skills in a far-flung locale sounded really exciting and after doing some research – yes, I Googled Guyana – I applied. I was intrigued by the fact that the country is thought of as part of the Caribbean yet borders Brazil and Venezuela. The ethnic split of Indian and Afro-Caribbean also piqued my interest. (I’d always wondered why cricketers of Indian descent like Shivnarine Chanderpaul – who, by the way, has a street named after him here in Georgetown – ended up playing for the West Indies. And now I know. And, while we’re on the subject, other famous Guyanese include Eddy Grant of The Equals and Electric Avenue fame, cricketer Clive Lloyd and, er, Shakira Caine, wife of Michael Caine and Miss Guyana 1967.)

My web development skills aren’t as technical as the other members of the team but my experience working as a journalist, often online, and a youth worker nicely compliments the other talents we bring.

Back in the UK I’m based in north London. Most of my writing is for the arts and culture section of thelondonpaper and I’ve also worked as a subeditor and in online production for clients including The First Post and the BBC. Since last September I’ve volunteered as a youth worker for east London charity Toynbee Hall, working with 13-14-year-olds on the Aspire project on radio workshops, citizenship and outdoor activities. This has recently led to paid sessional work with a charity called Headliners, which works with young people to produce journalism, where I start working after I return from Guyana.

This week I’ve been helping Matt teach basic animation with the Flash programme at local NGO Merundoi, who produce a highly entertaining and hugely popular twice weekly radio soap which promotes Aids awareness. See Matt’s previous post on how the course has gone (very well).

From next week Matt and I, plus Pontus and Chris (who arrive in the wee hours tonight), will be doing workshops with school pupils, teachers and youth groups on a variety of web skills. The workshops I’m leading focus on photo editing with the open source Gimp programme and what makes good web content and design, plus specialisms which will look at these areas in more detail.

Expect to see many more posts from the four of us in the coming days and weeks.

It’s three days since Matt and I landed in Georgetown, Guyana. Yet we’ve only just got around to posting a blog.

Pretty pitiful for a web skills development project, I’m sure you’ll agree (especially considering our flat’s internet connection is pretty good – thanks to our kind VSO neighbours who usually rent this roomy two bed out for their volunteers.)

In our defence we have been super busy. And the journey here – via Heathrow, Miami, Trinidad and finally Georgetown in just under 24 hours – wasn’t half tiring. Though save for the extensive customs search in Miami (why did I say I was a journalist when I knew it would arouse suspicion? Sheer knackeredness I think) and subsequent mad dash to our Port of Spain check in, largely uneventful.

Since getting the lowdown on Guyana’s capital from our local contact/facilitator – and neighbour of two doors down – Jane Quinn, who initiated this project through the British Council and subsequently the CYEC, we’ve checked out the computer labs at the ministry of education’s resource centre, where we’ll be doing our web workshops from next week, and ironed out a few issues with Mr Yoganand, the ministry’s head of IT.

We’ve also found time to pick up all manner of random vegetables from Bourda market, cooked them in local curry form with a little help from the downstairs flat’s housekeeper Cecelia, finally worked out a way to extract money from the bank and largely failed in our attempts to avoid mosquito bites. Oh, and we’ve decided we prefer Banks to Carib in the local beer stakes.

Tomorrow we start our four day Flash / animation course with Aids NGO Merundoi. After visiting their offices today we were buoyed by their enthusiasm and technical expertise but have concerns about their expectations – they’re hoping to turn their radio drama serial into an animation in the future, but we only have four days to teach them what is a complicated and time consuming medium. Though of course Flash is a good foundation and we will try to help satisfy their needs as best we can.

Matt is the Flash expert and leading the workshops so expect to hear from him soon on how we get on.


Bringing web skills to Guyana

A volunteer project from CYEC (Commonwealth Youth Exchange Council)

Guyana on Flickr

Advertisements