Simple tech as bridge across boundaries

Just back from a working trip to Nicaragua and one piece of what we were doing involved putting digital cameras into the hands of a

bunch of kids from rural communities. We worked in teams - one north american university student, one Nicaragua

n university student and one, two or three Nicaraguan schoolkids. The most remarkable thing, to me, was the ability of the simple digital cams to arc across boundaries and barriers - the tool provided a common nexus for a connection to be made that (mostly) eliminated the linguistic barriers (where they existed). And once one child was introduced to the tool there was a ripple effect - she would show it to her friends, during the picture taking process, and it would often be passed on to the friend....the only drawback was gather up the equipment at days end. They (the cameras) would cycle through and end up in different hands than they began.

So, we did that. We also packed up our gear and went home, afterwards which leads me to question some things about this work. Is there value in exposing economically poor children to shiny technology that they can play with for a bit but likely won't have access to again until we, or others like us, come back? What values are being promoted? Is that momentary master or control the kids gain a glimpse of worth anything on it's own?


I have no answers right now, just questions rising from reflection on the experience.

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