There are places where the people are relaxed, the sun is shining and the cost of living is 1/3 of what it is in the US or Canada.
Life in Nica
Let me tell you about our life in Nica. We were staying with a local family. They were solidly middle class. There were 2 televisions and no computers. Every morning, we would wake up and eat breakfast. I would then take my daughter to the local international school. For $80 a month, she was in a classroom with two teachers and 6 children. In the US, I pay $50 a day.
I rented a desk from the school, so that I could actually see her playing while I was working. I taught several WizIQ classes. The Internet infrastructure in Nicaragua is stronger than it is in upstate NY. I had less trouble connecting to WizIQ and I had no problems teaching.
School dismissed at 1:00. I gathered my daughter, who was fed, rested and happy. After school, we went to a pool to drink smoothies.
While we were in Nica, my computer crashed. For $3, I got a nasty virus wiped away. For another $5, I got a new operating system installed and all of my files transferred.
There are so many things that are interesting and wonderful about the life of the city we were visiting, but what really intrigued me was how the children interacted with each other.
The Children Play
The children of Nicaragua engage in a behavior that can best be described as “Play.” They often run in circles with no apparent goal or directions. They throw their arms around each other and fall over. Children can often be seen picking up other children and carrying them around, laughing, for no reason what so ever. This “Play” behavior continues for hours. It generally begins when the air cools in the late afternoon and it continues until the children are called in to go to sleep.
There are approximately 15 children who live on the block where we were staying. The only apparent “play” devices observed in a month long period were:
-A small ball
-A Monopoly board with about half the pieces
Nonetheless, the children are happy. Older children play with younger children. Toddlers run back and forth between their mothers and their friends. Sometimes the kids just sit, perfectly happy, not doing anything.
I am telling you about how little that they had to illustrate how little that we need.
I do not want to romanticize the life of the people. They are many poor people and their lives are difficult. For example, some of these children live in houses without adequate sanitation facilities or potable water. The dust and the air quality are certainly making kids sick. There are almost no books.
This thing called “Play” is becoming a more and more of a rare phenomena in the U.S. My mother tells me that she did it as a child. I certainly did not. According to numerous studies, kids are outside less than half as much time as they were 20 years ago. The US Government says that 8 to 18-year old adolescents spend an average of 7.5 hours a day using entertainment media, including, TV, computers, video games, cell phones and movies, and only one-third of high school students get the recommended levels of physical activity (http://www.letsmove.gov/learn-facts/epidemic-childhood-obesity).
Technology allows me to work from anywhere. Yet, technology is clearly hurting our children, and depriving them of the opportunity to know their neighbors and use their bodies.
The trip made a couple of things clear to me:
-American children are not healthy. The lifestyle supported by the popular culture and in our schools does not support the strong and healthy growth of our children. Homeschooling and living abroad are both healthy and sane alternatives to an unhealthy culture. WizIQ makes it easy to access what is useful about technology.
-Technology, if it were used to get reading material into the hands of children in poor countries, create alternative learning situations in all countries, and help people in developing countries gain technological skills, would be great. These are ways in which organizations like WizIQ can and are changing the world.