With Peace Corps Volunteers returning to the field, our team is delighted to be able to return for in-person teacher trainings! Earlier this month, we traveled to Lesotho to train ten Education Volunteers and their local counterparts how to get the most out of the SolarSPELL digital library. 

Kenna attended our training with her counterpart Mohapi. Together, they co-teach about 50 fourth grade students. Kenna shares her experience of the training, as well as her fellow teachers’ reaction to the library:

Education Volunteer Kenna and her local counterpart Mohapi smile for a selfie at SolarSPELL's teacher training in Lesotho.
Kenna, left, and her counterpart Mohapi smile for a selfie during teacher training.

“These past couple weeks were the first weeks of school here. It’s exciting to finally be teaching, which is what we’ve been training for. Speaking of training, the workshop a couple weekends ago went very well. We learned a lot, and not just about co-teaching. We were introduced to two different organizations, African Library Project (ALP) and SolarSPELL. We now have a lot of resources to incorporate in our teaching, and I’m happy to be able to share about these with y’all!

[One] organization we learned about is SolarSPELL. A team from Arizona State University came out to teach us about it. Two of the members that came are Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, one from Lesotho! SolarSPELL is a digital library that anyone can access for free when connected. It has its own WiFi, which only connects to the SolarSPELL library (not the internet).

There are TONS of resources in the library, for every subject — English, math, science, history, art, music… videos, PDFs, books in English and Sesotho, online simulations, and more. What’s also cool is that this library we got is specific for education in Lesotho. SolarSPELL has reached countries in Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East. Lesotho is the 11th country to partner with them! Twenty-five people can be connected at one time, which means even for the biggest schools like mine (which has 22 teachers including me), all the teachers can connect at once! The resources can also be downloaded, so we don’t have to be connected to access our favorites.

An open SolarSPELL library, displaying, clockwise from top left, its battery, raspberry pi and converter.
An open SolarSPELL library.
Participants at the Peace Corps Lesotho teacher training hold SolarSPELL libraries up to the sun to test them out.
Learning how to charge the libraries.
A closed SolarSPELL library, charging in the sun.
A SolarSPELL library charging.

The team trained us on how to use it, and we all took our SolarSPELL libraries back to our schools to train the other teachers. Teachers at my school are very much looking forward to using the digital library, and I’ve heard from other volunteers that teachers at their schools are very excited too. We are all so grateful to have the opportunity to use these resources, and I can’t wait to see the positive impact it has for our students.”

This excerpt originally appeared on Kenna’s blog in the post “Back to School.” You can read more and follow Kenna’s journey at https://kennaheroy.wixsite.com/peace-corps-blog.