Processes & Metaphors: An Exploration in Preparation by Katelynn Wright

People marvel at magnificent structures created by man. People go to France to see the Eiffel Tower, they go to China to see the Great Wall. The end result is astonishing. Ostentatiously rising into the sky is something beautiful, complex, and somewhat irreverent, and the work itself that goes into a truly magnificent structure can be a masterpiece all on its own. In the following weeks, Friends of Gueoul’s ESL program will educational development of young lives in the subject of English—but it seems we have neglected the preparation that leads to a, very likely, successful venture into the unknown.

I met Judy Beggs at a DU function while I was manning a table for my department. Often, I jump into the fray, and that is exactly what I did when Judy said “Friends of Gueoul wants an intern for our new ESL developments…” (I am likely paraphrasing, because you know… the whole “memory is fleeting and flawed” Proustian concept). With my brief little sprint in ESL teaching in Beijing in mind I decided to respond with “Oh! That’s something I would be VERY interested in.” I took a week to mull it over, then I messaged Judy with a very bold email expressing my very true intent to travel to Gueoul, Senegal and be one of the major actors in her nonprofit’s ESL summer camp. What I didn’t know, at that time, was that I would be more of an administrator than an educator for this program.

Preparing for travel has been a very interesting journey. Friends of Gueoul had the remarkable donation of 44 General Dynamics laptops from Xcel Energy. Those laptops were swiped clean of all their outdated functions, and updated by a very diligent Friends of Gueoul employee—Tuan. These computers now hold something unique: E-learning modules created specifically for the Village of Gueoul. These laptops are like the golden geese of this ESL summer camp—at least to the eyes of the creators of the E-learning modules. What do you do with a golden goose that is reincarnated into modern appliances? You treat it like royalty.

Tuan and I packed these laptops to ensure their safe arrival and documented that process, which you can see in the photos provided below:

The empty boxes ready for stuffing.
The empty boxes ready for stuffing.
Computers in Chest
Putting as many computers in a wooden chest to transport upstairs from the basement–Success!
Cleaning the Laptops
Protecting the screens and using rubber bands to hold them together.
Protect Screen & Rubber Banding
Line them up just for show.
Bubble Wrap
Must wrap in bubble wrap. Working with bubble wrap is than fun than just playing with it.
End Result
The end result: a well insulated home for nesting geese.

We used what must have been pounds of tape, peanuts, bubble wrap, and, well… more tape and cardboard around as encasement of course. But, why is all that important? I can hear readers say “Give us some footage from Senegal! We know, you pack things up safely when transporting them. EVERYONE DOES THAT! DUH!” And that is true. Good of you to ruefully express your boredom with hard work and preparation. If Tuan and I had not worked laboriously to secure these computers, the donation would have been lost and a magnificent ESL program would have a poor foundation.

It isn’t so much the packing of computers, specifically, that is profound, but it is the process of continually laboring and deliberating the next most appropriate, proactive, and sometimes revolutionary move to take. Do I have USBs and DVDs that hold the E-learning modules? Yes, yes I do. But, without those computers, I would not have been able to test the quirks in my software. I would not have been able to troubleshoot with a truly experienced individual in computer science. More importantly, I would not have learned how to correctly sever a piece of heavy duty tape from its holder. Seriously, that may have been the most important skill I am proud to have mastered (well… only sort of) after packing 44 computers into eight cardboard heavy duty boxes and a wooden chest.

Initially I was ambitious with this first blog post. I wanted to write about the clothing we would wear, the specific components of the E-learning modules that I’ve created, and what the future holds for both the modules and the entire project overall. Usually, I err on the side of ambition, but not this time. This time I give credit to heavy duty cardboard boxes, a generous donor, an extremely patient Tuan, mountains of tape (so much tape… seriously, I have nightmares about tape), bubble wrap and peanuts, and a little piece of paper that details in precise wording what is within eight boxes and a wooden chest: 44 precious golden geese that hold within them a process of teamwork, dedication, and trial-and-error.