Solar Powered Educational Learning Library

SolarSPELL Site Visit to Nguna Island, Vanuatu

The ASU SolarSPELL team’s third site visit was to Nancy’s village of in Nguna on Monday, May 15, 2017. With a village population of about 130 and no electricity, running water, or Internet connectivity, this village faces significant challenges. To give one example, there is no school beyond a kindergarten. All schoolchildren must travel to other villages to continue their schooling. Nancy welcomed us to her home and told us more about the village when we arrived.

Some of the local schoolchildren began asking Nancy to help them with various homework or school-related activities, and she heard about a SolarSPELL digital library that had been left with a headmaster in a neighboring village, on the same island but quite a distance away, by a Peace Corps volunteer who had completed their term of service there. She asked the headmaster for the SolarSPELL and had been using it for the past 6 months. We brought her the new, updated version.

Nancy had invited a group of students she regularly interacts with, to come and be among the first to “surf” the new SolarSPELL library.

At first, these kids were incredibly shy–this picture captures it well!

But after Miles explained how the SolarSPELL worked, and pointed out some of the new content, they were off and running!  They became far less shy, and we were so happy to see how second-nature it was for them to connect to the library and start surfing, whether on a tablet or smartphone.

They began surfing to their hearts’ content, (mainly) watching videos that interested them.

They are currently on a two-week break from classes, so this was a welcome diversion. A village youth leader also joined in the action.

Later on, he proved to be a natural on flying Bruce’s drone, taking amazing aerial photos of the village.

Another highlight of the day was that our nursing student, Emily, was able to meet with some local women, to hear the health-related concerns facing them, their families, and/or the village more generally. What a fantastic opportunity to learn what the true challenges are for remote villages that lack so many resources we take for granted.

The team would like to thank our gracious Peace Corps volunteer hosts in all three locations. What an amazing experience to be welcomed everywhere we went, benefiting from the wonderful relationships that the PCVs have established and cultivated with their home villages. We feel so fortunate to have been welcomed in so warmly, in each and every case.