On Dec 12-13, 2019, the ASU SolarSPELL team held a two-day training with 15 Peace Corps volunteers (PCVs) and 15 Principals/School Directors from the schools where the PCVs serve.  The training also included 5 representatives from local English-language teaching Associations, as well as a representative from the Ministry of Education.

The workshop kicked off on a very high note: the Minister of Education came to personally open the ceremony, informing participants of his enthusiasm and support for this workshop and for the SolarSPELL initiative’s work within Comoros.

Our agenda for the first day of the training (Thursday) consisted of telling the SolarSPELL story; teaching about how SolarSPELL works; connecting to and exploring the library; and finally having a lively discussion about information literacy and copyright.

The lunch break also held some excitement as multiple attendees were interviewed by the local news station. Interviewees included Dr. Hosman, a Peace Corps volunteer, and Peace Corps staff.

Zeinab Serhan, a Master’s student in ASU’s Global Technology and Development program, was able to further her applied research project, on-site, by administering the first part of her user experience survey to the workshop participants. The end goal of her research is to help create an improved user experience for the SolarSPELL library website.

On Friday morning, we kicked off the second and final day of our training. The day started with a beautiful photo of all the participants, Peace Corps staff and the SolarSPELL team.

We then transitioned to an exciting, high-stakes scavenger hunt for content found in the SolarSPELL library. As usual, the scavenger hunt, designed to promote the discovery of resources available on the SolarSPELL library, was a hit with the participants, and the prizes available to the winners promoted some stiff competition among the teams.

After this, Dr. Hosman transitioned to talking about best practices for implementing the SolarSPELL library in local communities and schools, drawing upon numerous real-world examples from previous SolarSPELL implementations around the world. She also talked with the participants about becoming SolarSPELL ambassadors as they transition to becoming “train the trainers” themselves.

Jared Sidman, a returned Peace Corps volunteer (RPCV) who served in Micronesia from 2016-2018, as well as a Coverdell Fellow in ASU’s Global Technology and Development Master’s program, subsequently told his story of introducing and using the SolarSPELL at his site and in his school, when he served as a PCV in Micronesia. Jared’s firsthand experience with using the SolarSPELL provided the volunteers and school directors with much food for thought on how to creatively introduce and make valuable use of the library in their own communities.

The training wrapped up with a final round of surveys, to provide the SolarSPELL team with feedback on how to improve all aspects of the initiative, as well as many photos being taken and the exchanging of contact details, so that our new SolarSPELL ambassadors can stay in contact!

Thank you so much for the warm welcome for this third visit and training, Peace Corps Comoros!