Wednesday, September 2, 2015


This morning I came to the university for departmental meetings.

There was an atmosphere of pervading gloom due to budgetary restrictions.

I sat down opened up the PC and clicked on the wifi.

I sighed.

I muttered: "Bloody typical."

The wifi was down (again).


I logged into a 4G wifi hotspot on my iPhone 6.

I smiled smugly to myself.

That 3G USB key that I had bought two years ago was already redundant, forgotten in a drawer.

The wifi connection was going to be particularly important to me today.

I had arranged to interview an ex-student, Sebastien Van Egroo for the CLAVIER project.

Sebastien is working with groups of young Haitians to give them training to become sports coaches/coordinators.

A news report about this work: appeared in Le Nouvelliste (which I learnt today is a nationally circulated daily newspaper in Haiti).

Of course, I thought to myself: there are people in the world who do not get their news from The Guardian.

The wifi reappeared in France.

I contacted Sebastien via Facebook Messenger.


The chat was as follows:

En ligne et en train de preparer pour te/vous parler. C'est bon pour toi/vous?

Non c est pas du tt bon pour nous frown emoticon nous n avons pas d electrecite en ce moment

Je communiqué via mon smart phone et j ai plus que 38% de battrie
OK c'est un super story

Nos ordinateurs sont décharge ça risque d être compliqué
Est ce que ca vous arrive souvent?

Mais je peux me connecte via skype sur mon smart phone si vous voulez mais j ai peur que nous ne puissions pas finir l entretien

Oui il y a des coupures très régulièrement l electrecite est donné par intermittence dans les quartier

Mais on ne sait jamais quand ça vient et quand ça part...
OK je propose qu'on se parle brievement par skype et ensuite fait un entretien par chat and gdoc. Et on reprogramme pour hangout

Mais nous devons enregistrer des jeunes ce matin qui vont faire un spectacle et il nous faudra de la battrie
Je ferai un poste blog sur nos experiences d'elec

On veut mettre la vidéo sur YouTube pour faire parler d eux
OK je peux utiliser ca si vous etes d'accord.

J ai peut de devoir économiser ma battrie pr pouvoir les enregistrer

Je les file ce matin et on mettra ça sur internet je pourrai vous envoyer le lien

OK est ce que je peux utiliser ce chat publiquement pour parler de ce moment?

Je suis vraiment dsl mr ensor mais ici c est le jour le jour et on s adapté vraiment en fonction des imprévus qui sont quotidien

Évidement aucun pb
OK donc je vous dis bon courage je vais ecrire un blog et le partager avec vous on vera une autre jour pour entretien

J ai de multitudes d anecdote à vous raconter sur la mise en place de notre projet ici.
Super. Un autre moment avec elec smile emoticon

Merci je vous tiens au courant à bientot

Je me déconnecté pr conserve la battrie
Ok a plus merci a tou

Translation into English:

Me: On line and preparing to speak with you. Is it OK for you?

Sebastien: No it's not good for us :-( we don't have any electricity. 
I am communicating on my smartphone and I only have 38% of the battery left.

Me: OK. Great that's a story.

Sebastien: Our computers have no battery left so it's going to be complicated. 
We can speak via Skype if you like but I fear that we won't be able to finish the interview.

Me: Do you have a lot of power cuts?

Sebastien: Yes the power cuts are regular in our district and we never know when it's going to happen or how long it will last.

Me: OK we can Skype briefly if you like, we could do a chat interview and reprogram the hangout.

Sebastien: But we will have to film the kids' show tomorrow morning and I'm afraid we won't have any battery left.

Me: I'll write a blog post about this experience of power cuts.

Sebastien: We want to put the video on Youtube and get people to see what the kids do.

Me: I can use that if you agree.

Sebastien: I have to save battery to be able to film them. 
We're going to film them tomorrow and I can send you the link if you like.

Sebastien: I'm sorry Mr Ensor but we just have to get by day to day. 
We have to adapt to daily uncertainties.  Sure (for sharing/using chat/video) no problem.

Me: OK. Take care. 
I'm going to write a blog and share it with you. 
We'll find another day to do the interview.

Sebastien: I've got masses of anecdotes to tell you about setting up this project here.

Me: Great! We'll do it when you have electricity.

Sebastien: I'll keep in touch. I'm logging off to save my battery.

Me: OK.  Thank you very much.


I remembered past conversations:

with Maha from Egypt
with Blaise from Cameroon
with Santosh from Nepal.


I remembered the ex-student from Haiti.

He suddenly didn't come to class.

His home town was destroyed.

He came back a while later, minus his joy to speak.

I remember the frustration and surprise of a group of French students that I introduced to Ayiti: The Cost of Life.

They didn't like the feeling of never being able to win a game.

I remembered the blog post that Susan shared about her students: "This is about you."

I remembered the student who used to sleep in English class.

(I discovered he slept because he was working nights.)

I was connected to the wifi via my iPhone 6 hotspot but I felt completely disconnected.

I felt overawed, helplessly privileged.


I go back to the Le Nouvelliste.

I feebly translate the headline into franglais.

This approximation appears appropriate to me:

"When education rhymes with hope."

I look forward to seeing the Haitian kids' show on Youtube.

Do we realise the importance of keeping that last 38% of our smartphone battery for those who matter?

I wrote to Santosh in Nepal.

I found it difficult.

I feel of no use whatsoever.

I feel like a helpless, perversely vicarious spectator.

How can we, 'connected educators', hope to usefully overcome such disconnections?


Education Sport Haiti Hangout On Air


  1. The disparities of situations, and of socioeconomics, and of poverty, and of ... well, everything ... is both a reminder of how far the world still has yet to go, and the possibilities for impact on the world, too. Another great post that has me thinking this morning ..

    1. We are the world Kevin.
      We can only go so far.
      Even Michael Jackson.
      Your connecting here is already a hell of a distance. Thanks for being here.

  2. A poem ...